3 Steps to Empathy in the Classroom & at Home

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP @ Inside Awareness, Living in Natures Love Blog & Renee Lindstrom Live

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Integration of Body, Mind & Spatial Awareness

 

#1  Organization:  SETTING UP THE PRACTICE STRUCTURE 

1.  Set up a regular time for practice. Integrating a new skill will need time, patience and structure. Practice will  prepare students for those moments that are triggered.  For example – Recent work is showing that children who practice tantrums with adults develop markers and begin to defuse the real tantrums. It offers adults a recourse for connecting to the child in the heat of the moment.  This too is practice ahead of time for those times to connect with oneself and others in the heat of reactions.

2.  Begin with describing the agenda of exercises and explain what they can expect during this practice time. Give advance notice of any interruptions that you are aware of that may happen.  For example, if someone needs to leave the group early or come late.  This  defuses any distraction and curiosity. This will have a settling effect.

3.  In the first session make agreements together. Ask them to share what is important to them for learning.   Use the following points as a guide and possible examples.   This will become the reference point for those moments when they break the agreements.  Develop group empathy rather than stating they are doing something wrong, begin to identify what  needs of the group that are not being met.

Our familiar experience is not being listened to, so our tendency is to hide”

For example:

a.  Needs –  to be heard, for kindness, respect and safety.

When one person is speaking, the group is listening and not interrupting,     correcting, telling their stories.

b.  Needs – equality, mutuality, efficient use of time

Time limits.  Set times for sharing in group or in role-plays.   Agree upon a signal such as a bell sound to pause and switch.

c.  Needs – choice, learning and contribution

Participation in the large group, by choice.  Participation in the smaller breakout groups, the need is for everyone to participate to increase learning opportunities for everyone.

Please note – *At all sessions together, begin with reviewing your agreement.  During the sessions bring them back by discussing the unmet needs of the other individuals in the group when forgetting the agreements.

#2  Group Sharing- LISTENING & CONNECTING

a)  Purpose and Intention

Focus and invite each members input in the round of sharing.

  • -Ask participants to pause, check inside and ask themselves, what feeling they have in this moment.  Give them examples such as; tired,  sad, happy, anxious, nervous, frustrated. 
  • -State each person only has a couple of seconds to state a feeling, and not a story!
  • -Have everyone stop and leave a  few seconds of silence between speakers
*silently notice the words they are using as feeling words to describe their feelings * more later
*notice if they begin to tell a story and hijack the exercise away.  If so, simply put your hand up to say stop and say, “I am worried that not everyone will have a chance to share. can you tell us one feeling word that seems bigger for you in this moment.”

b)  Choose to go around the group to build group listening and perception skills or to move to the next exercise.  To continue

have them share one sentence with the group with the next person repeating back what they said.  You begin and the person to your right tells you back your sentence.  Pause and then have that person share a sentence and so on.  No responses or jumping in by the group during this exercise.

c)  If you choose next exercise, complete this round by asking for two participants to tell back what was going on for them when they heard the responses.  For example, “Can I hear from two students what came up for them as they listened to groups contributions.”  Things like, “Was it hard to listen and not talk?  Did you feel like you wanted to jump in and agree with who was speaking?  Did you want to tell your story.”

d)  Move on to some exercises.  For some ideas of developing listening skills and how to give feedback, go to:

Exercise #1 – Listening together through movement, LEADING AND FOLLOWING Through Movement

Exercise #2 – Developing Inner Listening – EXPLORING FEELING THROUGH MUSIC

Exercise #3 – The road to conflict Resolution with Listening Skills Through conversation.

The value of these exercises is it develops  empathy and expands personal perceptions  that each person perceives and expresses differently.  We do not all feel, think and talk the same way. 

#3 – Developing Feedback 

-Conclude the skill building practices, come back into the group and share by asking the participants what is alive for them now.  Ask for a specific number of participant’s to share what their experience was and have them include if the exercise met their need. For example with the listening exercise, did they feel heard by the person who was listening to them, if so, how was this to feel heard?   

If you have time you may go around the group again and ask for a feeling word to close this session.

*SKILLS THAT YOU ARE BUILDING WITH THESE SIMPLE STEPS:

1.  A vocabulary of feelings words.  *Print off a list of actual felt sense feeling words to become familiar yourself of the words being mistakenly used as feeling words.

2.  The skill of reflecting inwardly to begin to know what they are feeling and to become comfortable with their feelings.

3.  Reducing personal reactions to someone else’s response or reaction with the intention to pause and check in individually for a moment before responding or reacting to someone else. (the old saying – stop and think before speaking, now could be stop and check in with yourself before speaking).

4.  Empathy building and introduction of the group intention and the group needs through establishing agreements.

3.  Listening without interrupting, correcting, blaming or shaming.

4.  Giving feedback without taking over their story or telling them what to do or ignoring them.

5.  Giving group feedback.

6.  Introducing personal responsibility in away that can be heard.

7.  Introducing Needs (Values) *building support for Virtues Project – bringing in skills to create the experience of being and acting in the virtue.

8.  Developing conflict resolutions skills organically.

9.  Building confidence, self-trust and inner strength.

10.  Understanding the bully, inside and in a group.

Learn more about hosting Communication Workshop 

or

Join On-going Integrative Communication Learning Circles ground in Nonviolent Communication


Empathy from cultivating awareness from the inside out

  • InTouch Communication:  Values & Empathy integration in communication for transforming disconnection into connection
  • Feldenkrais Movement: calming one’s nervous system.

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Natural World Empathy Support 

  • Natures Love plant essences blended by Renee: support body, and minds feelings that block emotions and self-confidence
Learn more
  • Foods & Movement for Emotions:  Metal, Emotional and Physical Support
Learn more

Find out more on how integrating the arts of movement, communication and space compliment your experience and encompasses a holistic approach to wellness.

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Renee Lindstrom, GCFP,
Feldenkrais® Practitioner since 2007, Value-Based Communication & Empathy Coach since 2004, Art of Placement  since 2000, Founder of Greater Victoria Peace & Intercultural Celebrations since 2010 & Greater Victoria Labyrinths since 2012, #yyj Peace Week Calendar Founder – 2014 & 2015

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