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Stories by empathy

By Jill Anderson 03/01/2017 3:32 PM EST
Tweet to Action
As Ashley Ford describes it, it was "some random thoughts on a random day." She had no idea that putting it out into the twitterverse at that moment would spark a movement. Yet, now, over $150,000 has been donated nationwide by hundreds of people in order to wipe out the lunch debt of strangers. "What's beautiful is that I tweeted the idea and these other people decided to make it happen in their own communities," says Ford, a writer and editor whose work has appeared in The Guardian, ELLE, and Slate, among other publications. "That's the thing that overwhelms me." The importance of school...
By Leah Shafer 02/27/2017 2:12 PM EST
Raising Kind Children
Families foster kindness and respect at home by setting expectations for manners, sharing, and helping with chores. And families hope, often with a tinge of worry, that children will continue those behaviors when parents and caregivers aren't nearby: in the school cafeteria, at a friend’s house, or on Instagram and Snapchat. But guiding children to be empathetic and ethical in their independent lives — even when no one is looking — can be more intentional than that. Here, a set of parenting strategies for teaching children to think ethically, care about the people around them, and create...
By Matt Weber 02/21/2017 8:00 AM EST
Male and female college student studying in library
In her years as president of Heritage University in Washington State, Sr. Kathleen Ross noticed an emerging trend. The number of students matriculating whose parents did not have college degrees was growing to the point of outnumbering the students whose parents had finished degrees. But then she observed something else about this "new majority" — they weren't succeeding in their studies at quite the same rate. "While it's wonderful that there are all these new majority students coming to university," says Ross, "[but] the fact of the matter is that ... the percentage of those students...
By Leah Shafer 02/21/2017 7:56 AM EST
Teacher leading discussing with diverse group of elementary school students
When the news is filled with racialized rhetoric or violence, teachers need to be prepared to discuss these topics with their students — especially when those students are people of color, economically disadvantaged, immigrants, or undocumented. It may be tempting to think of your classroom as an unaffected space, but students are going to hear about traumatic events anyway. Many may feel anxious or fearful, making it hard for them to engage academically. And for the students who identify with targeted groups, it can be “dehumanizing not to have their experiences addressed in schools and by...
By Usable Knowledge 02/21/2017 7:53 AM EST
Young girl sits with head in hands. Another girl in a backpack walks toward her
These three steps — to counter bullying or begin to change a bullying culture — are offered by Gretchen Brion-Meisels, a researcher and lecturer in prevention science and practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A onetime elementary and middle school teacher, Brion-Meisels now works to explore holistic student support processes that build on the local knowledge of students and communities. First, build strong relationships between adults and young people. Make time for people to build relationships and get to know each other as human beings. Allow students to learn about each...
By Jill Anderson 02/07/2017 4:48 PM EST
The Sandy Hook Promise
The first step to lessening the threat of potential gun violence in our communities and schools? Awareness and a knowledge that it can happen to you, says Nicole Hockley, founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, an organization launched by family members of the victims of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. "In order to create sustainable and meaningful change, people really need to be engaged in the issue," says Hockley, who lost her young son in the tragedy. "The best way to be engaged in an issue is to know about it, realize it is...
By Iman Rastegari, Leah Shafer 12/22/2016 1:54 PM EST
A graphic with icons of students and teacher, illustrating affirmation coming from teacher
With an unsettling year drawing to a close, many educators are increasingly aware of race: how it impacts student achievement and how it obstructs connections between people. But as we hope for a new year filled with equity and kindness in schools and beyond, research offers some encouraging insights. Confronting racial tensions, biases, and microaggressions can have powerful effects. But schools may also benefit from widening the lens. Behavioral psychologist Todd Pittinsky has found that when white teachers encourage and model overtly welcoming interactions between students of different...
By Matt Weber 12/13/2016 4:52 PM EST
Hands on globe
It is essential that in a world as hyperconnected as ours has become that nobody can be complacent, says Ross Hall, director for education at Ashoka Europe, a pioneering social entrepreneurship organization dedicated to supporting and developing "changemakers." In order to address the world's problems — the problems that all people share — everyone must develop empathy and begin to contribute. And, it's best if this process starts young. "For us, learning is a process of becoming and it is continuous," says Hall. "We must create systems — or what we call ecosystems — which are explicitly...
By Leah Shafer 07/15/2016 3:40 PM EDT
A smiling teacher calling on students in math class
What is the key to a high-quality social-emotional learning program that makes a lasting impact? It has to be a whole-school effort, according to developmental psychologist Stephanie Jones and her research team at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. They’ve spent the past five years exploring connections between social-emotional skills and positive life outcomes, in the process measuring the efficacy of many programs that teach those skills. Their findings — developed as part of a research project called SECURe (Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Understanding and Regulation in education...
By Leah Shafer 07/01/2016 11:23 AM EDT
Picture of a lake in summertime, with a camp house and a wooden fence hung with colorful lifejackets
Summer camp: For so many kids, it signifies carefree days of swimming, playing sports, singing songs, and reveling in freedom from the demands of the school year. Camp means no homework, no studying, and no teachers. But significant learning is still taking place at summer camp — even if the campers don’t necessarily realize it. Summer Learning (Without the Books) All those classic camp dynamics — being away from home and parents, making new friends, being part of a team, and trying new things — are building blocks to crucial social-emotional skills. Social-emotional learning (SEL) can...

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