Covid-19 Taught us a Lesson in Empathy - How to Leverage that for a Better Future for Education?

Updated: Apr 26

These past few months we have been filled with fears. For our loved ones' health. About how the future will be. I wonder how things look like from the point of view of a child.

Youth may ask themselves: Will we have a matriculation certificate? Maybe it will affect our whole future.

Children may ask themselves: Will I ever see my class mates again? How will going back to school feel? Maybe now I'll be a failed student. Are my parents going to be all stressed out again?

All may ask themselves: How will next school year look like, especially if the pandemic is back?

To start finding certainty within fears, let's look at the good thing that this challenging time brought us. There is a trend of thanking teachers. This empathy could serve as a springboard for better teachers' motivation. Before, burn-out was wide-spread because of all those conflicting expectations. What parents want from teachers is very diverse, as is the community around the school. What students want is a challenge too. And what school leadership want...

Empathy can lead to better communication and therefore to better results.

You're probably one of the change agents around school.

Here's what you can do:

1) Principal - Grow as a change advocate. Inspire. Give teachers more autonomy. Coordinate that with the superintendent. Pay attention to details, yet focus on building an environment of collegiality, on empathetic relationships. Teachers need their colleagues' feedback, experience and support.

2) Teacher - Prepare for a lesson in advance several stimuli that connect to your learning material. During the lesson, every 7-10 minutes present something new: an image to talk about, for example. Keep their curiosity high. Try to see the children as individuals and as little intellectual adults. Use phrases like: Let's think about it for a minute.

3) Parent - See your child's personal needs. Coordinate them with the teacher in an empathetic way. If you feel they didn't listen, say it again another time. Try not to talk much about the news in the presence of the children. When they see the parents angry, they don't say much. But it affects them.

4) Grandparent - Support your children (the parents) with empathy. You've been there too. Parenting feels totally differently than grand-parenting. What's more, you have a special perspective on your grand-kids. Ask yourself how do you see them in 10 years? Which of their gifts would lead to a profession that will fill their lives with meaning? If they know their end goal now, they will find purpose to study as best they can.

5) Student - You are probably told to concentrate on studying. This is important. But don't do that strenuously. Persevere with kindness to yourself, with playful ambition. Enjoy being a kid, a student. The time to be an adult will come. With this approach, your home will be happy and your future colleagues will like to cooperate with you.

Empathy is one of the social-emotional skills highlighted nowadays.

It is connected to emotions. To be empathetic we need to feel for someone else.

Yet it is also a social skill. For empathy we need to see the person in front of us and ask ourselves:

1) Why is he/she behaving this way?

2) What are his/her worries?

3) Have we been in such a situation ourselves?

4) How did we feel then?

5) How could it help this person.

Sometimes a smile is all it takes.

In the image of this blog post a father holds his daughter in a difficult to balance position. He gets his one balance supported by the ground. Who is the actual customer of education? children. Our best backup to create an environment that supports them is empathy.

And if the person in front of us is not being empathetic, we need to make sure we are. This strategy will bring the best results.

Need help becoming such an educator? Check out the Raising Creative Thinkers' Academy to learn more about our stimulating teacher training. Become the teacher you always wanted to be building 21st century learning professionality.

1) Find a solution to your current educational challenge.

2) Learn to identify the kid/s' gifts. Directing them to fulfillment will give them motivation.

3) Discover STEAM activity ideas to nurture cognitive flexibility and curiosity.

4) Get tools to manage aggression and to boost your impact as an educator..

5) Fill up with hope.

With empathy,

Michelle Korenfeld

21st Century Project-Based and Social-Emotional Learning lesson plans, stimulating teacher training, teaching tools, and best children’s STEAM book