“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or a duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." Kate DiCamillo
Monday, March 11, 2019
SLICE #11- How do you teach empathy?
Last Wednesday, my partner's iPhone was stolen.
She was sitting on a bench, talking to our assistant principal. When she got up, she accidentally left her phone. Five minutes later, she realized she had left it, and went back to get it, and it was gone.
The next day, they found out that two eighth grade girls had stolen it.
She got it back, but minus the SIM card.
On Thursday, I passed out Scholastic book orders. Our school is part of a special program, where the kids get to spend $7 a month on any book of their choice. When I passed out the orders this month, one of my little guys said, "This isn't the book I ordered."
Pretty much every month somebody says that, and usually it means that someone got a book they like better. And I have to go back and look at the order list. And show it to the student. Just to prove that they actually got what they ordered.
But this month, M was right. He had ordered something else. A book about a hamster, that came shrink wrapped with a whistle. I found the book, but the whistle was missing. Until Friday, when another student ended up having it.
And insisting it was hers.
Even though I absolutely knew it wasn't.
Today it was my turn. I had sent a student to get something out of my office. I had given my keys, on a lanyard. When she came back, about twenty minutes before the end of the day, she put the lanyard on my teaching table. I saw her put it down. It was still there after school.
And then I rushed off to a meeting and forgot to pick up my lanyard And when I came back, an hour later, it was gone.
I searched for a little while, but the thing is, I knew exactly where it had been.
When I went down to tell my principal it was gone, he said, "Was it blue? I think someone found it outside."
And they had. But the lanyard had been cut. And my keycard was missing.
And so tomorrow I will go through the hassle of getting the keycard replaced and finding a new lanyard.
The thing that bothers me in all three cases, is that I feel like our kids are better than that. To take someone from someone else represents such a lack of integrity, such a lack of character.
And such a lack of empathy, not to think about how someone else would feel.
And that makes me really, really sad.
And I wonder how you teach empathy.
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I was in a similar situation with my class last year. They didn't steal things, but they were absolutely nasty to each other. Nothing I did seemed to make a difference.
Does your school have a social-emotional curriculum (e.g., Responsive Classroom)? If not, that could be something to implement. I feel like whole school cultures are better when there is an emphasis on SEL.
I always believe that behavior communicates, but it's hard to know what's being communicated here! It seems like such a largescale problem right now.
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