“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.” by Meryl Streep
Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings from their point of view, rather than your own. An empathy map is a tool that I like to use with teachers to take a human-centered approach when thinking about personalizing students learning. Originally designed for businesses to think about their customers needs, schools are now using them to think about their students needs. Empathy maps shed light on which problems to solve within your school or classroom through a protocol.
The purpose of an empathy map activity is to empathize with end users, our students. When we better understanding how they think and feel, it will allow us to design classroom practices that work for them. You can create empathy maps several ways but my favorite way is to interview multiple students to gain perspective and truly hear their voice. Example questions for an interview would be:
- What would make you excited to come to school?
- Describe a class you feel most successful in and why.
- How could all teachers help you feel successful?
- Tell me about a time when you learned to do something really difficult? How did you learn it?
- What would your ideal learning experience look like?
- What change do you feel would make the biggest difference in your learning experiences? Why?
Then when I sit down to do an empathy map, I take a blank piece of paper, draw a circle in the middle and then section it off into the four sections below:
- Said: What are things this student might say in your class?
- Thought: What are things this student might be thinking while in your class?
- Did: What are some things this student might be doing in the class?
- Felt: How might this student feel?
Inside the middle circle I put the students name and then answer the above questions for said student using the data I gained from the interviews. If you don’t have time to do the interviews, that is ok too. You can then walk through this activity and think about what they would say, think etc- just know with this approach you can unintentionally add judgements.
Empathy Maps are a great way to disclose the underlying “why” behind students actions, choices and decisions so we can proactively design for their real needs; not based on what our needs as teachers are. After completing the empathy map activity you can now adjust an upcoming lesson, task, classroom environment etc to address students’ needed.
Other activities to build teachers empathy:
Lots of images of doing an empathy map
Google Drawing Empathy Map Template
STARTING WITH STUDENTS: ONE TEACHER’S DESIGN THINKING JOURNEY
EMPATHY MAPPING IN THE TEACHING AND TRAINING CLASSROOM
“When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person psychological air.” by Stephen R. Covey
Developing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills within students is not only one of the most important ways that classrooms and schools can raise student achievement scores but the skills also prepare students for life. Here are my favorite ways to integrate social emotional learning into the classroom at any grade level:
- Morning Check In: Greeting students at the door and gauging how they are entering can help reshape a students day. When you see a students demeanor different, you can have them step aside to find out whats wrong and how you can help turn their day around. This not only shows you care but also can allow for less disruptions in the classroom. For younger grades you can make a chart and have them tap the feeling that they are having. such as happy, sad, etc with pictures to help them recognize their feelings.
- Read Alouds: Reading aloud stories that have social-emotional themes help student understand situations. Read aloud for the younger grades can be pictures books and for older grades can be chapter books.
- Morning Meeting/Advisory Time: Holding morning meeting is a great way to start off the day and build classroom culture. Having SEL activities as part of morning meeting makes them even better. For older students, I usually call it advisor time. This time set aside empower all of your students with a voice and allows ownership of their learning environment.
Other great resources:
ASCD: Whole Child Initiative
13 Powerful SEL Activities
8 Apps for SEL
Common Sense: SEL Resources
“Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone willing to engage.” By Amy Jo Martin
I love social media as a way to learn and grow as an educator. To me, it is eyes and ears into so many different educators classrooms, schools and districts. Recently I have been getting a lot of Facebook (FB) requests from educators. To me it is important to keep these worlds seperate as I believe that it is a key component for digital citizenship, especially as educators. This is what led me to make a seperate FB profile as an educator. I can accept other educators as friends to continue to learn and grow and not annoy my other friends when I post about education topics. 😉
Below are all me education social media links:
*I have not done instagram at this time but I may on day.
“I’m excited about Augmented Reality because unlike Virtual Reality which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently… That has resonance.” Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
AR, VR and MR which are know as ‘realities’ are fast tracking into education in many ways. Are you thinking, AR, VR, MR – oh mylanta?!? Let’s break it down so that together we can understand the differences and start thinking about how we can apply these realities into the classroom! AR, VR and MR provide new ways for teaching and learning to happen that engages all students!
AR = Augmented Reality
- Overlay of objects in the world around you
- Uses a phone or viewing device
- Examples of AR in the real world: IKEA Place (lets you overlay IKEA furniture in your home to “see” it.) Snapchat lenses and Pokemon Go.
VR = Virtual Reality
- Immersion into another world.
- Often requires a headset (but not always)
- Does not interact with the real world
- Examples of VR in the real world: Playstation VR and DiscoveryNow (Education)
MR = Mixed Reality
- Combines elements of both AR and VR, real-world and digital objects interact
- This is still very new and I see it becoming more popular within the next few years as people get more comfortable with AR and VR.
This is a great video explaining the difference between VR and AR in less than two minutes.
I love this Thinglink of educational resources for AR and VR!
Read more about AR and VR:
How Reality Technology is Used in Education
What Is the Difference Between AR and VR? A Lesson in Altered Realities
25 resources for bringing AR and VR to the classroom
Why VR? 8 key reasons VR will transform education
AR vs VR in Education
The difference between AR, VR, MR, XR and how to tell them apart
I would love to hear how you incorporate AR, VR or MR in your classroom!
“Empowering those around you to be heard and valued makes the difference between a leader who simply instructs and one who inspires.” By Adena Friedman
All leaders want people who show initiative by taking on and completing tasks with little guidance. In order to do that leaders need to empower people which is not always easy when there are many initiatives to balance, lack of time and guiding employees that are facing personal challenges. Below are tips and tricks I have learned and continuing to develop as I grow as a leader.
- Cultivate Open Communication: This can be done many ways and needs to be often referenced back to help employees continue to feel safe. One way to cultivate open communication is having an open door policy. Employees can come in anytime the door is open if they have a question or an idea. During this time, the leader needs to stop doing what they are working on and listen. This is not always easy as you as a leader also have items on your plate and to do items to be done but it is something that needs to be done. I know I am not the best at this but hoping that writing about it will help me practice what I preach! Another way to cultivate open communication to empower others is to building a community of authentic feedback. We do this as a team through reviewing all our work as a team so that many eyes are on it and we are always producing our best content. This does not happen over night and will make some employees uncomfortable but over time they will open up as they see that it is a safe learning environment. The other great part of this approach is that it nudges people to produce their best work because they know others will be looking at it with a different “eye.” Just like how students produce better work when they know they have an authentic audience verse just the teachers.
- Be Transparent: I feel that the more transparent you are, the easier change becomes and it empowers people with the right information . This doesn’t mean as a leader you don’t filter things to protect employees. For example, for me, I do not tell employees things until they are facts! There are often times many rumors floating around and I will address that with them because they are just that…rumors. If I know a change or changes are going to occur but the leaders above me have not made final decisions, then I do not tell them what could be, I tell them the facts, there are going to be some changes and they are not sure what they are. Another way I am transparent is by having an employee handbook for our department so that each person knows what is expected of them and there are no surprises. If I make a change to the handbook, it is something that we have discussed as a team.
- Show Appreciation: Everyone likes to feel appreciated and for many that empowers them to want to do a good job for the team. I like to show appreciattion differently so they see that I truly care about each one of them (I may be bias but I do have the best team). Sometimes it is through celebrations at our staff meetings, sometimes it is a thank you note on their desk while other times it is a favorite treat. I also like to do team appreciations such a making breakfast or getting pizza for them or doing a fun activities such as bowling. It is important to note here something I have recently learned as well, you may feel you are doing a good job of showing apprciation but that does not always mean other on your team feel that way. It is important to try to find out how they view apprecition too.
As always, I would love your ideas and feedback because
leadership is always something I am trying to improve my craft in.
“The core of what Google is about is bringing information to people.” By Sundar Pichai
I am excited to announce that I recently became a Google For Education Certified Trainer! A Certified Trainer is part of a Professional Development program offered by Google to help schools effectively implement Google in the classroom. As a Certified Trainer, you’re a part of a selective group of technology experts with special access to resources, product updates and networking opportunities within the Google ecosystem.
Are you ready to start the Google for Education Certified Program? To become a Google for Education Certified Trainer you must be admitted by Google into the Program through a selective application process. The application steps are:
- Pass Google Certified Educator Level 1
- Pass Google Certified Educator Level 2
- Pass a Trainer Skills Assessment
- Complete Application
- Complete Case Study
Once you are selected as a Google for Education Certified Trainer, there is a commitment that you need to uphold. You will need to…
- host twelve sessions per year and report all training activities to Google.
- help educators pass Google Level 1 and Google Level 2.
- complete and pass product update assessment every 12 months.
- participate in the Google Trainer community and share resources.
If you are interested in starting your journey to becoming a Google for Education Certified Trainer, let me know as I would love to help!
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John C. Maxwell
A few years ago I wrote a blog post called, 10 Ways to Build Teacher Leaders. I feel it is such as important topic, I wanted to add to it because enhancing teacher leadership can help schools and districts with:
- Improve teacher quality
- Improve student learning
- Provide opportunities for professional growth
Teacher leaders assume a wide range of roles to support school or districts. Some roles that teachers can take to become teacher leaders:
- Instructional Coach
- Professional Learning Specialist
- Data Coach
- Lab Teacher
To recognize all teachers, here are some ideas to try that can help build teacher leaders:
Super Teacher of the Week: Each week at staff meetings, one teacher is recognized as “Super Teacher of the Week” based on nominations from other staff members. Their nomination is read out loud at the staff meeting. Reward: They’re given a superhero pin to wear all week.
Teacher Shout Outs: Celebrate teachers accomplishments and/or failures to show it is okay to take risks. Reward: Shout outs are given at staff meetings. If you have sponsors or PTA, gift cards are a nice perk.
Above-and-beyond the Call of Duty: This recognition would go to a teacher that went above and beyond the regular job requirements. Reward: You can take a teacher’s duty for a day.
Spotlight on Support: Establish a bulletin board in the workroom that ‘spotlights’ a different support staff each month. This would be a way to recognize TA’s, Custodians, Bus Drivers, etc. Reward: Hang a bucket or envelope from the bulletin board where staff can fill out notes to recognize that support staff member for his/her special talents etc.
Other teacher leadership resources:
Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders
The Many Faces of Leadership