Building Empathy

How my identity shapes interactions and building empathy with the student experience.

Photo of Jenn Crill
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Who are you? How does your identity and role affect how people interact with you?

I am an Asian American. As a quarter-Hawaiian my Asian heritage is not always immediately evident. When people figure out (or are told), I'm often surprised by the pervasive bias - sometimes I'm told that school must have come easily for me.
I am a Christian woman. While this aspect of my identity makes me easily relatable to some, primarily those that are like me, and difficult for others who may feel uncomfortable or unsure of what to say.
I am well-educated. I have worked hard and am the only person in my family to obtain a graduate degree. I have seen other educators inflate their vocabulary or say things like "it's not like I am getting a doctorate, but..." and I often wonder how people would respond to me if they didn't know that about me.
I have a large family and my children are unschooled. This tends to be really unpopular, but it's what works for my family for now.
I am a STEM coordinator and instructional coach. This one is tough, primarily because I miss the classroom and student interactions. However, I find that teachers are more likely to talk to me about support they want in their classroom and that's a great thing!
I am authentic. At least I try to be.

Which Empathy activity did you complete? Reflect on how it felt to complete the Empathy activity. Please post any videos, notes, or artifacts from your Empathy activity.
I shadowed a middle school student throughout her school day. It was super interesting to see how she navigated the different relationships with her teachers, including one substitute. As a follow up, I want to interview her about how it feels to navigate those relationships.

How do you collect information on students’ experiences, emotions and motivations at your school? What do you do with this perspective?
On the whole, now that I'm out of the classroom, my interactions with students are limited and I don't collect this type of information as regularly as I did when teaching. I would like to build a student wall in my office to remind me of the words, feelings, and experiences of students in my school so that I can keep this perspective in the forefront as I plan experiences with teachers.

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Photo of Alysha English
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Hi Jenn! Look forward to seeing you in St. Vrain soon! I just wanted to say how much I appreciated your thoughtful reflection here and love how you explored how your identity impacts your own experience and biases. Thanks for taking the time to conduct the empathy work with your student. I'm curious what surprised you most in this process, especially during the interview process. Did you learn anything that shaped your design question?