Invoking empathy

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

George Couros says that “to be innovative, . . .focus on having empathy for those we serve.” To truly have empathy for others, we have to learn more than the single story students present to us in the classroom. It is not enough to look at students as they sit in our rooms and think we know who they are. It is not enough to pass out an index card or a link to a Google form. It is not enough to analyze a pre-test or assessment data.

Relationship building is key for reaching students where they are, rather than where we think they are. Without empathy, we teach in the style in which we are most comfortable, not in the style that is best for each learner. Truly working to know our students takes time, effort, and multiple attempts. I need to know my students’ passions. I need to know their background, where they come from, in order to know where they are going. And they need to know that I care, and that I am interested in them as people, not just data in my spreadsheet.

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