Enjoy playing BINGO with your students using key words and phrases about Empathy in the squares! Print off Bingo boards below.
The language of empathy moves away from making judgments and toward describing things accurately. Here is another exercise in which students take on roles and respond from different viewpoints to given social scenarios.
Tell the students that you will leave the classroom and then come back. Their job is to closely observe your behavior. Leave, then walk back into the classroom and make several mistakes in the process: talk loudly, eat some food without permission, take somebody's pencil without asking, etc. Tell students to write down on a note card what they noticed. Collect the cards, and read them aloud. As students listen, ask them to signal one way when they hear descriptive language, and another way when they hear judgmental language. Follow this by providing a quick definition: empathetic language is descriptive, not judgmental.
Four steps of empathetic language
Teach students the following sequence of descriptive, non-judgmental (empathetic) language:
Exclusion-a student is left out of a party
Use drama scenarios to practice the language of empathy in social situations students are likely to encounter. Describe the situation (do not act out the negative behaviors) and then have students try it using the four steps of empathetic language in response to the situation (this is the part to act out). You can use the following ideas or provide your own examples, and then ask students to brainstorm a list of scenarios.
Play around with these Empathy Activities from Originsonline.org
The Talk Show Game
How to play: Group students in pairs.
In each pair, one plays the role of a talk-show host. The other plays the role of the guest on the show. Present each pair with a scenario that involves empathy or lack of empathy. The goal is for the host to elicit an empathetic response by drawing ideas from the guest about some of the experiences, feelings, and attitudes associated with that scenario. The host interviews the guest for one to two minutes, and then the leader gives a 30-second warning. After the time expires, call for a break, and invite players to stop, switch roles, and take up a new scenario. The process is repeated: the new roles and topic are used within a one- to two-minute time frame. After both students in each pair have played both roles, give the students a few minutes to reflect with each other about the exercise.
Possible scenarios for pairs:
Plan for Success: It is the guest who is practicing empathy by imagining himself or herself in the specific situation and trying to identify what it would feel like. The host should not give advice, but should try to ask questions that assist the guest in getting in touch with what it might be like to be involved in the given scenario. Hosts can ask questions which probe the details of a feeling.
Because this is a challenging line of questioning, in the beginning interviews will likely be short, composed of perhaps 4 or 5 questions. As students' skills grow, extend the questioning period.
Encourage the hosts not to use "why" questions during the interview process. Often when we ask others to explain why they feel a certain way, we are asking them to rationalize a non-rational experience. This can be confusing and may not forward the empathic experience.
Provide specific scenarios, not abstract generalizations. Before playing, model the game with a student, and ask the rest of the class to watch and listen carefully. Play the role of the host, and model asking questions that clarify what the scenario is and lead the guest to his or her own understanding of what someone might feel in this situation.
Scenario: a student does not do well on a test.
Host: How do you feel about your grade on the test?
Guest: I am disappointed and mad at myself.
Host: What grade did you hope to receive?
Guest: At least a C.
Host: How does it feel when you're mad? What happens inside you?
Guest: I get tense and crabby. Right now, I can't think about anything but that test.
Host: Have you felt this way before?
Guest: Yes-every time I get a bad grade.
Host: What do you say to yourself or think about yourself?