Tag: empathy



Someone with many years in education was visiting our building recently and commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a high school lunch period this quiet.” 



I think they caught us on a good day. But it was a nice compliment.


I know our lunches aren’t perfect. In fact, there were a few grapes flying around recently too. Kids will be kids, right? But I was a proud principal after hearing the visitor’s perspective, because I think it is a small indicator of our culture.



I was speaking with another educator who shared, “At my previous school, we had to have supervision all across the lunch room to keep everyone’s behavior in line.” It sounded like they had a bunch of people on guard to make sure there weren’t any problems.



It’s possible to achieve good behaviors by “running a tight ship” or by being “heavy handed.” There are lots of ways to influence behavior. And forcing compliance is one way to change behavior. Fear is a way to change behavior. Sticks and carrots are a way to change behavior. 



So don’t mistake a culture of compliance for a culture of character. There’s a difference in doing the rights things, and doing the right things for the right reasons.



What happens when the adults aren’t watching? How will the students act in those situations? That’s when character is revealed. We can keep our thumb on them to get what we want, but are we really helping them develop the decision-making and responsibility they need?



I want students to learn why character matters. 



I want them to show empathy.



I want them to be upstanders and not bystanders.



I want students to understand how they treat all people makes a difference. 



I want students to know it’s important to be honest, with themselves and with others.



I want students to learn to admit mistakes and move past them in a positive way.



I want to see students take full responsibility.



Ultimately, my goal is to create an environment that brings out the best in our students. I want them to feel supported and valued. And I want them to know I have very high expectations for them, not because of what they do but because of who they are. I believe in you, want the best for you, and I’m here to support you. That’s the message I want to send.



I think the traditional model of education has been very focused on compliance. In fact, compliance is often celebrated. I’ve had parents and teachers talk with admiration about teachers and administrators who ran classrooms and schools with an iron fist. They applaud the strict adherence to commands and rules. I have to admit that used to impress me too. 



But not anymore. I’ve come to realize that schools can be extremely orderly and run with precision and under the surface have a character deficit. I’m all for discipline, but I want to see that students are taking ownership for their behavior and can self-manage in positive ways. I want to see students empowered to do good and make a difference in the world. That won’t happen in a culture of compliance. It will only happen in a culture of character.



Is any of this making sense? I want to hear from you. I’m convinced that teaching character and developing it in our schools is as important as ever. What do you think? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Culture of Compliance or Culture of Character?



Someone with many years in education was visiting our building recently and commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a high school lunch period this quiet.” 



I think they caught us on a good day. But it was a nice compliment.


I know our lunches aren’t perfect. In fact, there were a few grapes flying around recently too. Kids will be kids, right? But I was a proud principal after hearing the visitor’s perspective, because I think it is a small indicator of our culture.



I was speaking with another educator who shared, “At my previous school, we had to have supervision all across the lunch room to keep everyone’s behavior in line.” It sounded like they had a bunch of people on guard to make sure there weren’t any problems.



It’s possible to achieve good behaviors by “running a tight ship” or by being “heavy handed.” There are lots of ways to influence behavior. And forcing compliance is one way to change behavior. Fear is a way to change behavior. Sticks and carrots are a way to change behavior. 



So don’t mistake a culture of compliance for a culture of character. There’s a difference in doing the rights things, and doing the right things for the right reasons.



What happens when the adults aren’t watching? How will the students act in those situations? That’s when character is revealed. We can keep our thumb on them to get what we want, but are we really helping them develop the decision-making and responsibility they need?



I want students to learn why character matters. 



I want them to show empathy.



I want them to be upstanders and not bystanders.



I want students to understand how they treat all people makes a difference. 



I want students to know it’s important to be honest, with themselves and with others.



I want students to learn to admit mistakes and move past them in a positive way.



I want to see students take full responsibility.



Ultimately, my goal is to create an environment that brings out the best in our students. I want them to feel supported and valued. And I want them to know I have very high expectations for them, not because of what they do but because of who they are. I believe in you, want the best for you, and I’m here to support you. That’s the message I want to send.



I think the traditional model of education has been very focused on compliance. In fact, compliance is often celebrated. I’ve had parents and teachers talk with admiration about teachers and administrators who ran classrooms and schools with an iron fist. They applaud the strict adherence to commands and rules. I have to admit that used to impress me too. 



But not anymore. I’ve come to realize that schools can be extremely orderly and run with precision and under the surface have a character deficit. I’m all for discipline, but I want to see that students are taking ownership for their behavior and can self-manage in positive ways. I want to see students empowered to do good and make a difference in the world. That won’t happen in a culture of compliance. It will only happen in a culture of character.



Is any of this making sense? I want to hear from you. I’m convinced that teaching character and developing it in our schools is as important as ever. What do you think? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More Culture of Compliance or Culture of Character?



Someone with many years in education was visiting our building recently and commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a high school lunch period this quiet.” 



I think they caught us on a good day. But it was a nice compliment.


I know our lunches aren’t perfect. In fact, there were a few grapes flying around recently too. Kids will be kids, right? But I was a proud principal after hearing the visitor’s perspective, because I think it is a small indicator of our culture.



I was speaking with another educator who shared, “At my previous school, we had to have supervision all across the lunch room to keep everyone’s behavior in line.” It sounded like they had a bunch of people on guard to make sure there weren’t any problems.



It’s possible to achieve good behaviors by “running a tight ship” or by being “heavy handed.” There are lots of ways to influence behavior. And forcing compliance is one way to change behavior. Fear is a way to change behavior. Sticks and carrots are a way to change behavior. 



So don’t mistake a culture of compliance for a culture of character. There’s a difference in doing the rights things, and doing the right things for the right reasons.



What happens when the adults aren’t watching? How will the students act in those situations? That’s when character is revealed. We can keep our thumb on them to get what we want, but are we really helping them develop the decision-making and responsibility they need?



I want students to learn why character matters. 



I want them to show empathy.



I want them to be upstanders and not bystanders.



I want students to understand how they treat all people makes a difference. 



I want students to know it’s important to be honest, with themselves and with others.



I want students to learn to admit mistakes and move past them in a positive way.



I want to see students take full responsibility.



Ultimately, my goal is to create an environment that brings out the best in our students. I want them to feel supported and valued. And I want them to know I have very high expectations for them, not because of what they do but because of who they are. I believe in you, want the best for you, and I’m here to support you. That’s the message I want to send.



I think the traditional model of education has been very focused on compliance. In fact, compliance is often celebrated. I’ve had parents and teachers talk with admiration about teachers and administrators who ran classrooms and schools with an iron fist. They applaud the strict adherence to commands and rules. I have to admit that used to impress me too. 



But not anymore. I’ve come to realize that schools can be extremely orderly and run with precision and under the surface have a character deficit. I’m all for discipline, but I want to see that students are taking ownership for their behavior and can self-manage in positive ways. I want to see students empowered to do good and make a difference in the world. That won’t happen in a culture of compliance. It will only happen in a culture of character.



Is any of this making sense? I want to hear from you. I’m convinced that teaching character and developing it in our schools is as important as ever. What do you think? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More Culture of Compliance or Culture of Character?



A substitute teacher in our building recently approached me about some problems she was having with student behavior. She detailed how she told the kids exactly what she expected and tried to enforce the rules, but they didn’t respond well at all.



I got the impression she was trying the stern teacher approach.



She told me about one student in particular. And as she shared, I could see her demeanor immediately shift.



She was really upset. Her body language and facial expression showed she was really frustrated. I would go so far to say she was having a miserable experience.



And so I felt really bad for her in that. I don’t want visitors to our building to ever have a bad experience. And being a substitute is not easy on a good day.



So I asked her a question, “Are you trying to enjoy the kids?”



She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I’m sure she was thinking how could I enjoy these kids when they’re acting out and being uncooperative?



“What do you mean?” she said.



“Well, I’ve just found that I get a much better result in working with students when I make it a point to enjoy being with them. They don’t always act just like I want, but I try to enjoy them anyway.”



“But I’m trying to get them to follow the rules and do the work,” she said.



“And that’s a good thing. We expect students to follow rules and be productive and use time wisely. They do need accountability for that. But how you hold them accountable can make a big difference.”



I encouraged her to leave some notes for the classroom teacher about the behavior problems, and asked her to give my advice a try the next time she had a chance.



A couple of weeks later she was back in the building, and she came rushing up to me. Her demeanor was completely different. She was smiling and full of energy.



“I tried what you said, and it worked so much better. It’s like I’m not putting as much pressure on myself and the students are doing better too. I feel so relieved,” she said.



I told her I was so happy to hear that, and I appreciated her giving my advice a try. I thanked her for sharing with me and for giving me an update.



The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you like them and enjoy them.



What are your thoughts on this advice? Are you enjoying the kids? How can you show delight in them and keep the classroom energy positive and productive? I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Simple Advice: Enjoy the Kids



A substitute teacher in our building recently approached me about some problems she was having with student behavior. She detailed how she told the kids exactly what she expected and tried to enforce the rules, but they didn’t respond well at all.



I got the impression she was trying the stern teacher approach.



She told me about one student in particular. And as she shared, I could see her demeanor immediately shift.



She was really upset. Her body language and facial expression showed she was really frustrated. I would go so far to say she was having a miserable experience.



And so I felt really bad for her in that. I don’t want visitors to our building to ever have a bad experience. And being a substitute is not easy on a good day.



So I asked her a question, “Are you trying to enjoy the kids?”



She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I’m sure she was thinking how could I enjoy these kids when they’re acting out and being uncooperative?



“What do you mean?” she said.



“Well, I’ve just found that I get a much better result in working with students when I make it a point to enjoy being with them. They don’t always act just like I want, but I try to enjoy them anyway.”



“But I’m trying to get them to follow the rules and do the work,” she said.



“And that’s a good thing. We expect students to follow rules and be productive and use time wisely. They do need accountability for that. But how you hold them accountable can make a big difference.”



I encouraged her to leave some notes for the classroom teacher about the behavior problems, and asked her to give my advice a try the next time she had a chance.



A couple of weeks later she was back in the building, and she came rushing up to me. Her demeanor was completely different. She was smiling and full of energy.



“I tried what you said, and it worked so much better. It’s like I’m not putting as much pressure on myself and the students are doing better too. I feel so relieved,” she said.



I told her I was so happy to hear that, and I appreciated her giving my advice a try. I thanked her for sharing with me and for giving me an update.



The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you like them and enjoy them.



What are your thoughts on this advice? Are you enjoying the kids? How can you show delight in them and keep the classroom energy positive and productive? I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Simple Advice: Enjoy the Kids



A substitute teacher in our building recently approached me about some problems she was having with student behavior. She detailed how she told the kids exactly what she expected and tried to enforce the rules, but they didn’t respond well at all.



I got the impression she was trying the stern teacher approach.



She told me about one student in particular. And as she shared, I could see her demeanor immediately shift.



She was really upset. Her body language and facial expression showed she was really frustrated. I would go so far to say she was having a miserable experience.



And so I felt really bad for her in that. I don’t want visitors to our building to ever have a bad experience. And being a substitute is not easy on a good day.



So I asked her a question, “Are you trying to enjoy the kids?”



She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I’m sure she was thinking how could I enjoy these kids when they’re acting out and being uncooperative?



“What do you mean?” she said.



“Well, I’ve just found that I get a much better result in working with students when I make it a point to enjoy being with them. They don’t always act just like I want, but I try to enjoy them anyway.”



“But I’m trying to get them to follow the rules and do the work,” she said.



“And that’s a good thing. We expect students to follow rules and be productive and use time wisely. They do need accountability for that. But how you hold them accountable can make a big difference.”



I encouraged her to leave some notes for the classroom teacher about the behavior problems, and asked her to give my advice a try the next time she had a chance.



A couple of weeks later she was back in the building, and she came rushing up to me. Her demeanor was completely different. She was smiling and full of energy.



“I tried what you said, and it worked so much better. It’s like I’m not putting as much pressure on myself and the students are doing better too. I feel so relieved,” she said.



I told her I was so happy to hear that, and I appreciated her giving my advice a try. I thanked her for sharing with me and for giving me an update.



The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you like them and enjoy them.



What are your thoughts on this advice? Are you enjoying the kids? How can you show delight in them and keep the classroom energy positive and productive? I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Simple Advice: Enjoy the Kids



A substitute teacher in our building recently approached me about some problems she was having with student behavior. She detailed how she told the kids exactly what she expected and tried to enforce the rules, but they didn’t respond well at all.



I got the impression she was trying the stern teacher approach.



She told me about one student in particular. And as she shared, I could see her demeanor immediately shift.



She was really upset. Her body language and facial expression showed she was really frustrated. I would go so far to say she was having a miserable experience.



And so I felt really bad for her in that. I don’t want visitors to our building to ever have a bad experience. And being a substitute is not easy on a good day.



So I asked her a question, “Are you trying to enjoy the kids?”



She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I’m sure she was thinking how could I enjoy these kids when they’re acting out and being uncooperative?



“What do you mean?” she said.



“Well, I’ve just found that I get a much better result in working with students when I make it a point to enjoy being with them. They don’t always act just like I want, but I try to enjoy them anyway.”



“But I’m trying to get them to follow the rules and do the work,” she said.



“And that’s a good thing. We expect students to follow rules and be productive and use time wisely. They do need accountability for that. But how you hold them accountable can make a big difference.”



I encouraged her to leave some notes for the classroom teacher about the behavior problems, and asked her to give my advice a try the next time she had a chance.



A couple of weeks later she was back in the building, and she came rushing up to me. Her demeanor was completely different. She was smiling and full of energy.



“I tried what you said, and it worked so much better. It’s like I’m not putting as much pressure on myself and the students are doing better too. I feel so relieved,” she said.



I told her I was so happy to hear that, and I appreciated her giving my advice a try. I thanked her for sharing with me and for giving me an update.



The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you like them and enjoy them.



What are your thoughts on this advice? Are you enjoying the kids? How can you show delight in them and keep the classroom energy positive and productive? I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More Simple Advice: Enjoy the Kids



A substitute teacher in our building recently approached me about some problems she was having with student behavior. She detailed how she told the kids exactly what she expected and tried to enforce the rules, but they didn’t respond well at all.



I got the impression she was trying the stern teacher approach.



She told me about one student in particular. And as she shared, I could see her demeanor immediately shift.



She was really upset. Her body language and facial expression showed she was really frustrated. I would go so far to say she was having a miserable experience.



And so I felt really bad for her in that. I don’t want visitors to our building to ever have a bad experience. And being a substitute is not easy on a good day.



So I asked her a question, “Are you trying to enjoy the kids?”



She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I’m sure she was thinking how could I enjoy these kids when they’re acting out and being uncooperative?



“What do you mean?” she said.



“Well, I’ve just found that I get a much better result in working with students when I make it a point to enjoy being with them. They don’t always act just like I want, but I try to enjoy them anyway.”



“But I’m trying to get them to follow the rules and do the work,” she said.



“And that’s a good thing. We expect students to follow rules and be productive and use time wisely. They do need accountability for that. But how you hold them accountable can make a big difference.”



I encouraged her to leave some notes for the classroom teacher about the behavior problems, and asked her to give my advice a try the next time she had a chance.



A couple of weeks later she was back in the building, and she came rushing up to me. Her demeanor was completely different. She was smiling and full of energy.



“I tried what you said, and it worked so much better. It’s like I’m not putting as much pressure on myself and the students are doing better too. I feel so relieved,” she said.



I told her I was so happy to hear that, and I appreciated her giving my advice a try. I thanked her for sharing with me and for giving me an update.



The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you like them and enjoy them.



What are your thoughts on this advice? Are you enjoying the kids? How can you show delight in them and keep the classroom energy positive and productive? I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More Simple Advice: Enjoy the Kids



Last night I watched the film, Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis as the 16th U.S. President. It was great to finally see it. I’m kind of a history nerd, but for some reason I had never watched it before. It’s an incredible film covering the final four months of Lincoln’s life. Daniel Day Lewis is outstanding in his portrayal of the president.



As I watched, I noticed several times how Lincoln used the word must as he considered the decisions and actions he would take as the leader of a bitterly divided nation. He was a courageous leader who stood firmly on principles in the face of incredible opposition and obstacles.



I reflected on the difficult decisions he made. I’m sure there were times he would rather have taken an easier path. He faced hardships and failure throughout his life, and he could’ve veered off course, retreated, or just settled for the status quo. He probably didn’t want to carry all of the heavy burdens of a Civil War, the bloodiest war in U.S. history. 



But he did carry those burdens and remained a steadfast leader. He stood firm. Because he felt a moral imperative. He felt he must



We are all faced with challenges as educators. We are often faced with choices about what we would rather do versus what we must do.



And while our decisions may not be described in history books, our work has great significance in the life of a child. We might be the best hope for some. We don’t always know what might hang in the balance. We don’t always know what difference we might make for this one child.



We usually have the opportunity to make the greatest difference when we choose must over rather.



I would rather not have that difficult conversation, but I must.



I would rather not have to learn something new, but I must.



I would rather not be creative today, but I must.



I would rather not call that parent, but I must.



I would rather not give that extra effort, but I must.



I would rather not be enthusiastic today, but I must.



I would rather not have to repair that relationship, but I must.



I would rather not consider another idea or perspective, but I must.



I would rather not give that kid a fresh start today, but I must.



I would rather not change my lesson, but I must.



I would rather not deal with new technology, but I must.



I would rather not overlook that offense, but I must.



Every day I see educators choosing must over rather. But we should always, always, always be asking, “What is best for kids?” 



In this situation, “Am I choosing must or rather?”



Do you ever struggle to choose must instead of rather? I think we all face that. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Power of Choosing ‘Must’ Instead of ‘Rather’



Last night I watched the film, Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis as the 16th U.S. President. It was great to finally see it. I’m kind of a history nerd, but for some reason I had never watched it before. It’s an incredible film covering the final four months of Lincoln’s life. Daniel Day Lewis is outstanding in his portrayal of the president.



As I watched, I noticed several times how Lincoln used the word must as he considered the decisions and actions he would take as the leader of a bitterly divided nation. He was a courageous leader who stood firmly on principles in the face of incredible opposition and obstacles.



I reflected on the difficult decisions he made. I’m sure there were times he would rather have taken an easier path. He faced hardships and failure throughout his life, and he could’ve veered off course, retreated, or just settled for the status quo. He probably didn’t want to carry all of the heavy burdens of a Civil War, the bloodiest war in U.S. history. 



But he did carry those burdens and remained a steadfast leader. He stood firm. Because he felt a moral imperative. He felt he must



We are all faced with challenges as educators. We are often faced with choices about what we would rather do versus what we must do.



And while our decisions may not be described in history books, our work has great significance in the life of a child. We might be the best hope for some. We don’t always know what might hang in the balance. We don’t always know what difference we might make for this one child.



We usually have the opportunity to make the greatest difference when we choose must over rather.



I would rather not have that difficult conversation, but I must.



I would rather not have to learn something new, but I must.



I would rather not be creative today, but I must.



I would rather not call that parent, but I must.



I would rather not give that extra effort, but I must.



I would rather not be enthusiastic today, but I must.



I would rather not have to repair that relationship, but I must.



I would rather not consider another idea or perspective, but I must.



I would rather not give that kid a fresh start today, but I must.



I would rather not change my lesson, but I must.



I would rather not deal with new technology, but I must.



I would rather not overlook that offense, but I must.



Every day I see educators choosing must over rather. But we should always, always, always be asking, “What is best for kids?” 



In this situation, “Am I choosing must or rather?”



Do you ever struggle to choose must instead of rather? I think we all face that. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Power of Choosing ‘Must’ Instead of ‘Rather’



Someone else’s experience is different from mine. 



It seems obvious doesn’t it? But I think it’s one of the most important things to come to terms with in developing empathy. It’s important to recognize another person’s experience is different than mine and then honor that experience and try to understand it.



That’s empathy. It’s the emotional skill of being able to recognize, understand, and honor the feelings of another person.



I have to admit, sometimes I struggle to understand another person’s experience. It seems so obvious to me how they should respond or how they should feel in a given situation. If I’m not careful, I start feeling the need to convince them why they should feel more like I do about this thing. My sweet wife will confirm this I promise!



But that’s not helpful. Every person has every right to every one of their feelings. They belong to that person. And that’s okay. 

I’ve learned better how to respond when I have those thoughts, when I’m tempted to expect others to see it my way, right away. In the past, I felt frustrated and even angry if a student or colleague (or my wife or kids) was being unreasonable in my view, if they didn’t see it my way, if they didn’t feel the same as me. 



It’s so important to keep healthy emotional boundaries. I’m not going to let your (emotional) stuff bump into my (emotional) stuff.

Instead of responding with anger or frustration, I’ve learned to try to respond with curiosity. Rather than being upset by someone else’s feelings, I respond with curiosity and puzzlement. Hm? I wonder what this person is experiencing right now or what this person has experienced in the past that makes them feel this way? I’m curious. I want to understand.



And that creates the safety for dialogue. It keeps safety in the conversation. And it requires me to listen. When I’m curious, I want to know more. I want to understand how this person is experiencing this. I remind myself that my feelings are still mine. I can feel a certain way while honoring another person’s feelings too. It helps me to show up well in the situation and work toward win-win solutions.



When we honor the other person’s experience, it opens paths for shared understanding. Most of us want to be understood. In fact, one of the things that bumps into me more than just about anything else is feeling misunderstood. I’m sure many of you can relate to that.



Some people (mainly guys) might see all of this as soft or weak, but it’s not. It’s actually being a much stronger person. You are stronger when you have your emotional abilities in hand. Weak people fly off the handle and act like toddlers when they don’t get their way. Strong people don’t feel threatened easily by someone’s differences. There is great strength in accepting differences.



But of course, it’s still completely appropriate and beneficial to call out bad behavior. We must hold people accountable when they act badly. Empathy is not being tolerant of bad behavior. But it is being tolerant of another person’s experiences and feelings. It’s addressing the behavior in a way that tries to understand what the behavior is communicating, because all behavior is communication.



Empathy helps us think about the needs of others, and ultimately when we do this we are much more likely to have our needs met too. We’re more likely to have authentic conversations that lead to better decisions. We’re also more likely to feel heard when we are able to have honest conversations that keep empathy at the center. 



So clearly I value empathy. Why is it so important? Here are 9 reasons for educators.



1. Empathy leads to kindness. It fosters acceptance and understanding. Empathy lifts up others. It meets needs. It believes the best about others.



2. Empathy brings people together in community. It helps us to connect in spite of our differences, no matter what our differences.



3. Empathy results in better lesson plans. It seeks to understand how students learn this best, how they are experiencing learning. It values them as learners. 



4. Empathy results in better discipline plans. Empathy is not punitive, it’s corrective and supportive. It seeks to understand and prevent the causes of poor behavior. It is essential to resolving conflict.



5. Empathy improves teamwork. Effective teams are build on trust and togetherness. Empathy allows for constructive conflict.



6. Empathy improves problem-solving. It opens us to new possibilities and it considers the end-user and how solutions will impact others.



7. Empathy improves performance. Performance is stronger when people value risk taking and accept failure as an opportunity to learn. Empathy provides the safety for that to flourish.



8. Empathy builds stronger relationships. Most people want to be liked, to have more friends, to have people we can really count on. Empathy is essential to developing stronger bonds between people.



9. Empathy can reduce anxiety and depression. When people feel heard, feel understood, and feel supported, it can help ease anxiety and depression. Depression for teens, especially has been on the rise. I wonder how a culture of empathy might ease this in our schools.



I want to hear from you. Why is empathy important to you and what are you doing to cultivate it in your classroom or school? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Note: Header Image Retrieved https://www.pinterest.com/hattieshortie/english-to-kill-a-mockingbird/

Read More What Is Empathy? And Why Is It So Important?



Someone else’s experience is different from mine. 



It seems obvious doesn’t it? But I think it’s one of the most important things to come to terms with in developing empathy. It’s important to recognize another person’s experience is different than mine and then honor that experience and try to understand it.



That’s empathy. It’s the emotional skill of being able to recognize, understand, and honor the feelings of another person.



I have to admit, sometimes I struggle to understand another person’s experience. It seems so obvious to me how they should respond or how they should feel in a given situation. If I’m not careful, I start feeling the need to convince them why they should feel more like I do about this thing. My sweet wife will confirm this I promise!



But that’s not helpful. Every person has every right to every one of their feelings. They belong to that person. And that’s okay. 

I’ve learned better how to respond when I have those thoughts, when I’m tempted to expect others to see it my way, right away. In the past, I felt frustrated and even angry if a student or colleague (or my wife or kids) was being unreasonable in my view, if they didn’t see it my way, if they didn’t feel the same as me. 



It’s so important to keep healthy emotional boundaries. I’m not going to let your (emotional) stuff bump into my (emotional) stuff.

Instead of responding with anger or frustration, I’ve learned to try to respond with curiosity. Rather than being upset by someone else’s feelings, I respond with curiosity and puzzlement. Hm? I wonder what this person is experiencing right now or what this person has experienced in the past that makes them feel this way? I’m curious. I want to understand.



And that creates the safety for dialogue. It keeps safety in the conversation. And it requires me to listen. When I’m curious, I want to know more. I want to understand how this person is experiencing this. I remind myself that my feelings are still mine. I can feel a certain way while honoring another person’s feelings too. It helps me to show up well in the situation and work toward win-win solutions.



When we honor the other person’s experience, it opens paths for shared understanding. Most of us want to be understood. In fact, one of the things that bumps into me more than just about anything else is feeling misunderstood. I’m sure many of you can relate to that.



Some people (mainly guys) might see all of this as soft or weak, but it’s not. It’s actually being a much stronger person. You are stronger when you have your emotional abilities in hand. Weak people fly off the handle and act like toddlers when they don’t get their way. Strong people don’t feel threatened easily by someone’s differences. There is great strength in accepting differences.



But of course, it’s still completely appropriate and beneficial to call out bad behavior. We must hold people accountable when they act badly. Empathy is not being tolerant of bad behavior. But it is being tolerant of another person’s experiences and feelings. It’s addressing the behavior in a way that tries to understand what the behavior is communicating, because all behavior is communication.



Empathy helps us think about the needs of others, and ultimately when we do this we are much more likely to have our needs met too. We’re more likely to have authentic conversations that lead to better decisions. We’re also more likely to feel heard when we are able to have honest conversations that keep empathy at the center. 



So clearly I value empathy. Why is it so important? Here are 9 reasons for educators.



1. Empathy leads to kindness. It fosters acceptance and understanding. Empathy lifts up others. It meets needs. It believes the best about others.



2. Empathy brings people together in community. It helps us to connect in spite of our differences, no matter what our differences.



3. Empathy results in better lesson plans. It seeks to understand how students learn this best, how they are experiencing learning. It values them as learners. 



4. Empathy results in better discipline plans. Empathy is not punitive, it’s corrective and supportive. It seeks to understand and prevent the causes of poor behavior. It is essential to resolving conflict.



5. Empathy improves teamwork. Effective teams are build on trust and togetherness. Empathy allows for constructive conflict.



6. Empathy improves problem-solving. It opens us to new possibilities and it considers the end-user and how solutions will impact others.



7. Empathy improves performance. Performance is stronger when people value risk taking and accept failure as an opportunity to learn. Empathy provides the safety for that to flourish.



8. Empathy builds stronger relationships. Most people want to be liked, to have more friends, to have people we can really count on. Empathy is essential to developing stronger bonds between people.



9. Empathy can reduce anxiety and depression. When people feel heard, feel understood, and feel supported, it can help ease anxiety and depression. Depression for teens, especially has been on the rise. I wonder how a culture of empathy might ease this in our schools.



I want to hear from you. Why is empathy important to you and what are you doing to cultivate it in your classroom or school? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Note: Header Image Retrieved https://www.pinterest.com/hattieshortie/english-to-kill-a-mockingbird/

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