Wednesday, April 10, 2013


What is Empathy?

Empathy is putting yourself in someone else's shoes.  Feeling what they feel, seeing what they see, hearing what they hear.  Second grade is a great year to begin discussions about empathy because students are developmentally becoming less egocentric and willing to think outside of themselves. Here is a great visual for reinforcing this idea:
I started by reviewing the I Messages (see blog post here) we've practiced in the past.  Then I introduced the Empathic Response.  When friends are trying to solve conflict and let us know what is going on with them, it is important for us to listen carefully and restate what they are experiencing in order to help solve the problem.  Here is the Empathic Response poster to help with phrasing your statement to show your understanding:

Afterward we read one of my favorite books, The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller.  I was lucky enough to meet her a few years ago when she visited an elementary school I taught at.  She writes and illustrates her own stories, and the little details she adds excite readers.  

In this story, the state Kansas is unhappy and decides to plan a party and invite all of the states.

At the party they come up with the idea to switch places.

Well, as you can see from above, they are all excited at first.  But then conflict starts to occur.  As each of the states begin to complain, we stopped and came up with I Messages and Empathic Responses the states could use to communicate effectively with each other.

After the story I gave students a packet full of the different state pictures.  They picked two states to have a conflict, glued them to their paper, and wrote out a conversation between them using I Messages and Empathic Responses.


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