Bite-Sized PD for Educational Equity: Why is empathy important for teachers?

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Today’s Bite-Sized PD for Educational Equity was inspired by:

Empathy, Teacher Dispositions, and Preparation for Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

By Chezare A. Warren (2018)

Journal of Teacher Education

Key Statement:

Empathy allows teachers to be culturally responsive because it provides an effective way to understand and relate to students, families, and communities. Empathy is the foundation from which teachers respond to students; empathy invites teachers to reflect on how they would respond if they were in their student’s shoes, with limited authority and agency. That is, “Teachers cannot control how students show up. Teachers can control, however, their (professional and personal) response to how students show up” (p. 2).

Cultural responsiveness is not the goal; empathic responsiveness is the goal. Empathy demands the flexibility needed to respond to all cultures, at any time (p. 11).

Top Five

Here are five things to know about empathy.

  1. Empathy provides a way of knowing or getting to know one’s students, families, and communities; through information gathering.
  2. Empathy allows for the planning and practice of culturally responsive pedagogy because teachers approach planning with the perspective and knowledge of their students in mind.
  3. Teachers can develop empathy for their students by providing opportunities for students to reflect personally on course content through response papers, journaling, or 1:1 check-ins.
  4. Empathy bridges a teacher’s context to their student’s context, which can be used to enhance “academic success, sociopolitical awareness, and cultural competence” (p.7).
  5. Empathy, within the context of perspective taking, should be incorporated into teacher training through Field Experience, Critical Classroom, and Literature that centers race and equity across disciplines (p.8).
    • Field Experiences in which teachers are the racial minority.
    • Critical Classroom Discourse during which teachers interrogate their predisposition to students who are different from them.
    • Literature that Centers Race and Equity across disciplines to think critically about their sociopolitical contexts (e.g., anti-Blackness, colonialism, White supremacy) and reflect this thinking in their teaching practice.

Do Now: Create an opportunity for students to reflect on course content using personal narrative.


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