Empathy is a way of connecting with other people that shows you understand that they’re experiencing something meaningful. Even though you may not understand exactly how it feels for them. In other words, empathy is about finding a way to connect and to be able to say, “I want to understand how this feels to you and let you know that you’re not alone.” Being the top school in western Odisha, we suggest practicing this at your homes too.
Think about yourself at first
It is very difficult to connect with others if you are not very aware of your own behavior. While teacher training is extremely helpful, you may not be aware of some of your own approaches in how you manage your class once you settle in a routine. For example, it is worth noting what triggers certain emotions at work, such as frustration or even anger. Then, it is also useful to recognize feelings of self-doubt, your reactions to stress, and even whether you are going through burnout. Usually, when we do not address these problems, they end up piling up and they might affect our ability to interact with others. Asking for help from peers or a supervisor is a good strategy that will help teachers cope better in the long run.
Let them see you as you
Let yourself be seen. This is way easier said than done. However, in sharing our shortcomings as well as our successes, we are being more authentic. An educator that holds back cannot demand full openness from their students. You can admit when you are not having the best day, or when you got a fact wrong. You can be open about that one time you struggled with a concept in school, or got a bad grade. Students do not need to see perfection, they need someone they can relate to and someone that they can trust.
Show students how to be more empathetic
Many teachers choose their profession after being inspired by an educator themselves — someone that has had a great impact on their life. For example, I will never forget my Math teacher, who had a tough-love approach to teaching, but made time after her normal teaching schedule to tutor students who were struggling, because “everyone deserves a second, third, and fourth chance”. Students will tend to look up to teachers that show more empathy towards them and in turn, show more kindness towards one another and emulate positive behaviors.
Separate behavior from the student
This is nothing innovative, yet we tend to fall into the trap of identifying students according to some behaviors that they exhibit in class. There is a good student and a problem student. The problem with labels (aside from the fact that they belong on jars, not on students) is that students will internalize and identify with the said label. This can in turn become a self-fulfilling prophecy, not to mention that it will also alter your own perceptions and expectations of your students. Other negative aspects are lower confidence in themselves and lower confidence in their academic skills. Instead, one of the building blocks of a good relationship with students is separating what they do vs. who they are as a person.