Lesson plan

Relating with Empathy

Being able to step into another's shoes can support healthy relationships and compassionate young people! Students will be able to define the word "empathy." They will discuss different scenarios and perform skits that illustrate empathy.
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Students will be able to define the word "empathy" and discuss ways to positively relate to others and exhibit understanding and empathy.

(10 minutes)
  • Join students together in a circle, either seated or standing.
  • Pair students up into partners.
  • Explain that today the class will be discussing how we can relate with others.
  • Pass out whiteboards and whiteboard markers.
  • Project the first scenario from the Empathy Scenarios worksheet on the board.
  • Read the first scenario out loud.
  • Read the question and ask student partners to discuss how they would feel or relate to the person in the story.
  • Give pairs two minutes to discuss.
  • Ask students to write down their feelings and what they discussed on their whiteboard.
  • Ask for 2–3 groups to share their thoughts and what they wrote on their whiteboard.
  • Project the next three scenarios and move through the same sequence of events (read the scenario and questions, give students time to discuss, write, and share).
(15 minutes)
  • Write the word "empathy" on the board.
  • Ask, "Does anyone know what this word means?"
  • Write the definition of empathy on the board: "the understanding of or the ability to identify with another person's feelings or experiences."
  • Use the following questions to lead a class discussion on the topic of empathy:
    • Why is it important to understand another person's feelings?
    • How does it feel when others understand your feelings?
    • What are some ways that others have shown that they understand?
  • Explain that students will participate in a group activity where they will be given the scenarios from earlier, but they will perform the scenarios showing understanding and empathy.
  • Model (with another student volunteer) how you would act out a scenario showing that you can relate and understand another's feelings. Use the following sample scenario to model:
    1. Teacher and student volunteer are at the pencil sharpener.
    2. Student sharpens pencil and pencil breaks.
    3. Students says, “Oh man! That was my last pencil! I can’t believe it broke!”
    4. Teacher says, “That is a bummer! I can’t stand when that happens! I have one you can borrow until you get a new one."
    5. Student says, “Oh wow, thank you! I am way behind on the math test and really appreciate your help!”
(10 minutes)
  • Review the worksheet and directions.
  • Ask students if they have questions.
  • Break students into groups for skits.
  • Assign each group a location in the classroom to work.
(15 minutes)
  • Dismiss students to go to a special place in class to work on their skit. Be sure to circle around the room and check for understanding of empathy with each group.

Enrichment: Ask advanced students to write their own scenario that illustrates empathy.

Support: Assign students to work in mixed skill-level groups during group work. Work one-on-one or in small groups with some students when working on skits.

(5 minutes)
  • Walk around the room and check student comprehension of empathy and the ability to work as a team during group work.
(5 minutes)
  • Bring students back together in a circle.
  • Ask each group to perform their skit.
  • Ask, "How did the group show empathy during the skit?"
  • Ask, "How can we remember to have understanding and empathy for others and ourselves?"

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