Empathy and Compassion
Students build and strengthen the skills of empathy and compassion.
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
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. We introduce students 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.
The lesson starts with a Mindful Moment in which students practice compassion for others as well as for themselves. The lesson then moves to defining kindness, compassion, and empathy. In a unique rhyming Munchy and Jumpy story, students walk through a grumpy day in which each person’s bad mood gets passed along and then the same day but marked by kindness getting passed along. Students learn the importance of doing the next kind thing to make a positive impact on the world. Students then draw responses to what kindness looks like, feels like, and sounds like. The class finishes with a journal reflection.
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. The Munchy and Jumpy story will help center the lesson and give students a good understanding of kindness, compassion, and empathy.
For the activity, use either the printout from the lesson plan or have students create their own by making three columns of what kindness looks like, feels like, and sounds like. If possible, have students or their parents send you an email, picture, or video of how the student practiced kindness and then share back out a collection with the class.
As a closing, have students share in the group how they can show kindness to someone at their home after the lesson ends. Consider using one of the videos under lesson variations.
During the introduction, use the slides for the definitions of key terms. As a closing, have students think about and make a plan for how they can show kindness to someone at their home after the lesson ends.
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