pondering empathy

Empathy.

What is it? How is it expressed? How much is too much?

These are all questions that I’ve always wondered, but now within the context of a classroom… How much is too much? How is it expressed? What is it? These questions return to my inquiry focus on creating respectful classroom environments, and it is rooted deeply in my own teaching philosophy.

These questions have found their way into my brain more consistently and intensely over the last week as I encountered by first instance of student dishonesty (a big hunch on students cheating on a reading quiz) last week. What was the best way to approach such a situation? I consulted a few different teacher colleagues to hear their perspectives which all varied. What didn’t vary was the advice about how this situation could be used as a teachable moment- that is, what was the ‘learning objective’ that would come out of a discussion about cheating with students? So back to my initial ponderings: as educators, how do we balance taking into consideration individual students’ unique positions and give them opportunities to demonstrate their learning VS treating them the ‘real world’ would in preparation for a harsher life beyond high school walls? How much do we give before it’s all taken?

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