The Compassionate Educator

Linder Elementary filled a whole bunch of buckets this week during STAAR testing! Primary teachers, students and staff showed empathy for the intermediate students and teachers that tested this week by “adopting” a class and showing them love and support in many creative ways. These bucket fillers gave out goodie bags to those that were testing and hung posters with words of encouragement to acknowledge all of the hard work their fellow students and colleagues have done this year. Thank you Linder Elementary for leading the way to our next tip in the compassionate educator series!
Linder Elementary

“One of our important needs is empathy.

To meet this need and to increase student-to-student connections in your classroom, consider organizing an empathy buddy system that students could be part of.

Set aside a time of the day or regular times in the week for students to share with each other, and give and receive empathy.”

-The Center for Nonviolent Communication

A Compassionate Educator

As we speak about our needs with those in our lives we begin to build connections and understanding. Look at our newest tip from our compassionate educator series:

“Learning is not the only need that students bring to school. They also bring their needs for belonging, fun, freedom and contribution. Unless these needs are acknowledged and met, students will not feel safe enough to fully engage in the learning process.

Create a needs inventory with your students — a list of all the needs they bring with them to school. At least once a week, ask everyone to look at the list and express how well their needs are being met at school.

Use this information as the basis for class discussion.”

Click on this link for an insight into what your students may be seeking in the classroom!

Needs Inventory

A Compassionate Educator

In the Filipino language they have a word “gigil” that expresses the urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute! In fact, many languages around the world have feelings words unique to their cultures. In English, we have over 400 words that can express our emotions. Find out more in our latest compassionate educator tip below:

“A wide-ranging feelings vocabulary provides deeper self-connection and an enhanced ability to express yourself to others. These skills can strengthen compassion in any learning environment.

Help your students enhance their feelings vocabulary.

With your students, make a list of feeling words, and try adding a new word a day for as many days as you can. Put your feelings vocabulary in a prominent place in your classroom.

Each time students feel an emotion that isn’t on the list, invite them to express it by saying it aloud or writing it on the board.”

Feelings & Emotions

A poster with visuals of different feelings helps students identify and label their emotions.

Feeling Words

Check out this list of feelings and emotions you can hand out to your students!

A Compassionate Educator

How often do we pick up on the nonverbal cues our students give us? Our body language sends a message that is often times more powerful than our words. Read the newest tip from our series:

“Body language can convey whether we are speaking from a “power over” or “power with” perspective.

What is your body language with your students? What is your body language communicating?

Regardless of how short a child is, to convey that we want to speak with them from a “power with” perspective, we can squat or sit down to talk with them eye-to-eye. We can invite students who are taller than we are to sit down so that we can talk eye-to-eye with them, as well.

Notice how often your students are looking up when they interact with you.”

A teacher and pupil

Here are some tips from the NEA website on how body language can help teachers establish a good rapport with their students!

NEA’s Tips for Teachers on Body Language

A Compassionate Educator

As we begin to feel the pressures of the upcoming tests ahead, let us be reminded of this tip from our series:

“The emotional center of the brain is so powerful that negative emotions such as hostility, anger, fear and anxiety automatically downshift the brain to basic survival thinking.

Imagine the impact on student learning in an environment dominated by academic or social pressures, threats of punishment, or peer hostility.

In such an environment, the reasoning center of the brain shuts down and students automatically prepare to flee, fight, or freeze in our tracks. The brain is so thoroughly preoccupied with survival needs that students are literally unavailable for the complex activities of the mind that learning requires. Their curiosity, wonder, and ability to focus are usurped by a state of heightened vigilance and an immediate need for protection and security.

Look for instances of this happening in yourself and your students. Ask what you can do to enhance emotional safety in your learning environment.”

Survival Mode Brain

The Committee for Children uses a simple pie graph to illustrate the three ways educators can create a positive classroom environment:

Positive Classroom Climate

A Compassionate Educator

John Cotton Dana once said, “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” The Center for Nonviolent Communication has published tips for creating positive environments for our students and we decided to feature them on our blog….they are just that good!

Here is our first featured tip on listening!

“Listening carefully to students shows that we value what they say and we take them seriously. Listening meets students’ needs for understanding, connection and trust. If you could make only one change in a classroom, listening more is probably the most important one to make. On any given day, make a point of noticing how much you talk and how much you listen. What are the percentages?”

Stay tuned for more Compassionate Educator tips. The website for The Center for Nonviolent Communication provides a wealth of information and you can also subscribe to receive the tips via email for free!

The book below features tools on how to create a compassionate classroom. One of the chapters is dedicated to changing our language from naming and blaming to giving and receiving. Click on the picture to purchase this fantastic resource!

Compassionate Classroom Book