The themes of emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion have featured frequently on my blog, especially the need for them to be incorporated into classroom practice and taught, particularly through modelling, to children.
My most recent series of posts about compassion, starting with Who cares anyway? and concluding with Ripples through time, with three more in between, were prompted by the #1000Speak for Compassion Project.
I thought I was done with that theme for a little while at least, but last night I read a very moving post by Julieanne Harmatz on her blog To Read To Write To Be.
Julieanne wrote with much emotion and compassion about a child in her class; a child who tears at your heartstrings, (and sometimes makes you want to tear out your hair), a child most teachers will recognise from their practice, a child you wish to be everything to but know that at least if you can be someone who really sees the child within, for a little while, you have done something worthwhile.
I urge you to read Julieanne’s story, and watch the TEDxtalk by Helen Riess that Julieanne has embedded in her post. Riess explains what empathy means through this acronym:
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Magic moments happen in teaching, and they make our hearts soar.
But, there are moments that can break. Us and our hearts.
Z is struggling. He lies down on the picnic table outside the room. When we’re all inside, he enters saying, “I don’t want to sit there.” He paces. We look for a place. He settles beside N. Then moves. Again and again. Searching for a spot.
Sitting is painful. School doesn’t fit, and the discomfort emanates from his being.
Someone says something about dads. He blurts, “My dad doesn’t come home no more.”
Enter Reading Workshop. Z gets together with his book group they are planning. Z says, “I don’t read at home. I read here, not at home.”
Later, Z paces in the corner, reading his book, Reading and walking, in circles. This is his way.
Lunch happens. Z doesn’t eat. He doesn’t want to. Can’t. He just…
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