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Teaching Empathy Through Teamwork

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Showing empathy is an important part of being a kind person, and learning what empathy is can be the first step in exhibiting empathetic behaviors. Bayville Intermediate School fifth-grade teacher Kelly Price implemented a creative approach to teaching her students the importance of empathy and sharing the lesson with younger students. The lesson, which included reading books about character, carries the motto, “I Have Character.”

To enhance the project, Ms. Price’s students are mentoring second-graders in Dani Schatz’s class at Bayville Primary School to help them learn about empathy. The two classes join together monthly, pairing fifth-graders with second-graders to work collaboratively. In a recent lesson, the older students presented the younger ones with questions about how they would handle certain situations, including seeing a student sitting alone at lunch or witnessing bullying. The questions sparked important conversations, enabling mentors to guide the second-grade students towards the best way to be an empathetic classmate.

Students created paper versions of themselves, and as they learn new, positive personality traits each month, they add symbols to their characters to represent those traits. Ms. Price said this demonstrates to them that what we have on the inside is more important than what we see on the outside. She hopes the lesson will help them become more empathetic, kind, grateful, resilient and hardworking. 

“I hope that 20 years from now when my students think back to fifth grade, they remember their experience and journey of becoming better human beings. I hope when they are 30 years old, they can say, ‘I have character,’” Ms. Price said.