Graduate project

A Plan for Upper Elementary Teachers to Implement Best Practices of Empathy Development in the Classroom

ABSTRACT A PLAN FOR UPPER ELEMENTARY TEACHERS TO IMPLEMENT BEST PRACTICES OF EMPATHY DEVELOPMENT IN THE CLASSROOM by © Sarah Angela Pennisi 2009 Master of Arts in Education: Curriculum and Instruction Option California State University, Chico Spring 2009 Elementary students begin each school year with a new teacher and new classmates. Not everything is expected to run smoothly and not all children start out as best friends. It is important that teachers create an environment that will benefit each student and create a positive, caring atmosphere in which each child can learn effectively. Providing a healthy learning environment for the students optimizes their creativity, motivation and overall enjoyment of learning. Children are learning in a social setting, among peers and teachers, and this setting requires communication, thinking, and problem solving. Past research on children’s development and growth in education focused on their interpersonal intelligence; the ability to understand and relate to others. Empathy is ix significant as skill or perhaps innate ability to understand emotions, develop self-awareness, and read the feelings of others. Teachers can integrate empathic awareness into classroom instruction through lesson plans and various activities. By demonstrating the importance of empathy, students gain awareness and control of thoughts and emotions, self-confidence, and creative problem solving with peers. The project is made up of a plan for elementary teachers to implement empathy into classroom instruction. It includes information about children’s needs and how teachers can plan for a successful year at school. Parents are included in this project as an important part of the educational process. A series of detailed lesson plans are included. The lessons are based on the topics of individual character building, socialization with peers, and family and community concern. Each topic within these categories branch off of empathic values and build on empathic understanding. Each school year and each semester are important for students to start off right. It is intended that the information in this project will be helpful to teachers and parents in the preparation of school to ensure children’s academic and social growth and enjoyment.