Empathy and Compassion


Learning Goal

Students build and strengthen the skills of empathy and compassion.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the lessons, students will be able to:

  • Identify the emotions and perspectives of others
  • Help improve the emotions of others
  • Understand the importance of being kind to others

Learning Summary

Student behavior towards others is directly related to their ability to empathize and treat others with kindness and compassion. When students focus on taking the perspectives of others—the first part of empathy—they expand their cognitive and emotional capacity to extend beyond the egocentric developmental stages within childhood and adolescents. Students are introduced to the concepts of kindness, compassion, and empathy, and provides students with tools to act in response to their development of compassion towards one another.

In the Mindful Moment, students practice compassion for others as well as for themselves. After defining kindness, compassion, and empathy, students engage in a circle conversation to discuss their perspectives with the intention of building empathy and a sense of community. Students then are shown a music video showing a kindness chain and in small groups write their own. The class finishes with a journal reflection to identify the impact of compassion on their emotional state and action steps moving forward.

computer icon    Online Teaching Tips for Empathy & Compassion

Starting with the mindful moment, have students turn off their cameras and microphones in order to focus on the mindfulness practice. If possible, have students or their parents send you an email, picture, or video of how the student practiced kindness recently and then share back out a collection with the class. 

For a live class, during the community circle make this optional to share outloud or to write down something in a chat and send it to the class or teacher privately. Show the Kindness Boomerang video and have students either work independently or in groups to think about how they could make their own kindness chain.

During the introduction, use the slides for the definitions of key terms. Show the Kindness Boomerang video and have students make their own kindness chain on a piece of paper. The additional activity, Be as Kind as You Can, is a great challenge for students to try out especially through online learning!

CASEL Competencies

Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. The ability to accurately assess one’s strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a "growth mindset."

Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. The ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.

Classroom Teaching Example