Exploring empathy, walking the mile
Elizabeth Kilmer (City Hill Middle School student)
To us, empathy is “seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.? That is exactly what all the squadron leaders tried to get across to our classmates last Wingman Wednesday. By using fun activities such as a word scramble, word searches and designing posters we hoped that the students at City Hill Middle School would understand our empathy message. After being involved in the lesson, some of our classmates, namely Autumn, Mitchell and Herve described it as “fun”, “effective”, “interesting” and “helpful.”
During our lesson we first defined empathy, then asked the class what it meant to them. Answers included “Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes” and “Knowing how someone else feels.” Next, students designed a poster defining empathy in their small groups and presented it to the class. Each group had a different interpretation on what empathy was, and some interesting conversations developed as a result of the students’ definitions!
Classes then listened to prepared scenarios and shared what one of the characters should and shouldn’t do. An example scenario read “There is a new student in Zach’s class, and she is standing in front of the room alone and uncomfortable because she doesn’t have anywhere to sit. There is a group of boys in the back laughing at her. Put yourself in Zach’s shoes. What should and shouldn’t he do?” In addition, there were other scenarios where students had to match up actual pictures of shoes with the scenario and have a discussion within their groups
The entire class, both the seventh as well as the eighth graders chose their favorite empathy quote and placed it on a snowman. These snowmen, as well as many of the class posters were put on display around the school and posted on the bulletin board in the main hallway. In addition, real shoes were hot-glued to a wall with the saying, “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” for all to see throughout the month of December. Finally, all the canned foods donated for the local food bank as part of this month’s Wingman challenge were displayed in the main hallway showcase. On either side of the showcase stand white Christmas trees decorated with purple lights (Dylan’s favorite color!) and each person who donated filled out a painted puzzle piece for autism awareness and hung it on the tree.
Overall everyone really enjoyed the empathy activities on our Wingman Wednesday, from the students to the squadron leaders to the teachers. People seemed to take something away from the lesson; that they needed to care about other people’s feeling more and they realized the importance of being empathetic.