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October 1, 2019
Vol. 77
No. 2

School Tool / This Is What Empathy Looks Like

Social-emotional learning
Ashoka Foundation has a downloadable toolkit to foster empathy skills in the classroom. "Tool cards" contain lesson plans and activities—both one-shot and suitable for extended projects—that can be used with many grade levels. Activities are organized into ways to prepare a safe space, engage kids in activities that lift empathy skills, and strengthen class members to take action on empathetic feelings. For instance, to create an "emotional intelligence charter," students brainstorm words for how they want to feel in class every day, then winnow those words down to five that will be their charter's foundation. Through discussion, students list what actions should lead to feeling those emotions day-to-day ("respect looks like taking turns when using equipment") and translate those actions into rules.

Naomi Thiers is the managing editor of Educational Leadership.

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