Real World Learning: Empathy Reflection
Definition of "empathy" according to the Oxford Dictionary:
"The ability to understand and share the feelings of another."
If our goal is to create the best possible leaning environment for our students, we must look closely at our audience. We must empathize with them by understanding who they are as people and what engages their learning. This can be a challenge and often is forgotten.
In many career fields success is based upon the actions of the proprietor and how those actions relate to an object. In teaching, the educator must use the people in the environment to create a productive learning atmosphere. Empathy is the key to that success. If we are to design successful learning experiences, we must empathize with our audience, our students.
I enjoy the use of interviews when wanting to learn more about a person. When done well, an informal interview can create an environment where the interviewee can feel safe, confident, and respected by the interviewer. This takes successful preparation and an inquisitive mindset. When conducting an interview with open-ended questions, the interviewer is able to inquire about deeper thoughts and feelings towards a given topic. Interviews also offer a direct and important link to how we design our lessons, products, etc...
Browsing can be inspiring. Check out the Stanford University Institute of Design!
In the preparation stage of the empathy interview process, I spent a lot of time brainstorming and reflecting on the questions that I would ask my students. I felt that a road-map was necessary for the interview in order to be sure I was on target as to what information I was wanting to acquire. I wanted to be sure to maintain a level of consistency from person to person, yet offer areas where they could break away from the questions at their discretion. I feel that the script/road-map that I developed was successful!
Empathy and Education: What I've learned
I often find myself sometimes focused on the content for the lesson I'm producing without even considering who the lesson is for. What are their likes, dislikes? What is their background? What excites, frustrates my audience? What are some of the limitations when it comes to technology, resources, etc...
While creating the most complex procedures for the greatest lesson, I must remember that all of that time and effort are wasted if I don't have empathy for the people who are learning in the environment.
We've heard the importance of rapport in the classroom. Yes rapport is important, but in order to instill a deeper understanding more must be achieved.
The Importance of Establishing Rapport with Your Students by Rebecca Ryan and Janie Wilson
The days of forcing information into learners through lecture, worksheets, and videos are over. We must as educators connect with our students. We must meet them where they are at, be a support as they grow and learn, and get them to where they desire to be. Empathy is a main ingredient when designing a successful and worthwhile learning experience.