Start with listening

Listening to others is the key to developing empathy.

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There are many simple ways to help students listen to each other.

In Circle Time, having each student respond to a simple phrase, such as, "I like it when..." helps others to know more about each other.

In class meetings, having students respond to the previous comment with phrases such as, "I agree with ... because and I'd like to add..." makes the speaker feel validated and develops empathy in the next speaker.

As a class, conduct a Socratic Seminar (heaps of resources here). In this type of discussion, students respond to each other and use their intuition to develop discussions. I find that students who often don't speak up in a public situation, do so in this format.

Conduct Empathy Interviews like the example above about a particular text or issue. Person A interviews Person B and Person C scribes. NOTE: This is not a discussion. It's great for those who don't speak up. It's wonderful if there's time for each person to act in each role.

Finally, allow time for pausing. This gives students time to take everything in and formulate a response (or not).

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Photo of Jessica Lura

It's amazing how such a "small" thing (listening) can make such an impact. Which of the ways have you found the most success with? How did you build the culture where students value listening to each other (and the space for it)?

Photo of Chantelle Love

Hi Jessica,
Thanks for your comment. Great questions - you really made me think! We started working in collaborative teams of 4-5 Ss on Day 1 designing our learning space - that really helped ensure that everyone had a voice and were listened to. We scaffolded that with Design Thinking which has Empathy at its heart so that added to it. The most effect practice was starting and finishing each day with Circle Time - it was fast and thus, easy for students to listen to each other. In terms of space, did you mean physical space or space in the timetable?

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