teachers, teaching, empathy

A teacher shared her students' 'radical empathy' when a classmate fell asleep.

There's an odd tendency for some people to try to scare children into believing that the world is a cold, cruel, unforgiving and unsympathetic place. The intention may be to prepare them for "the real world," but we don't do kids any favors by teaching them that no one cares about their needs.

In the actual real world, most people are decent, kind and helpful. Sure, there are some jerks and some hard-nosed authoritarians who seem to revel in making people's lives hell, but by no means should they be considered the norm. We mold the culture we live in by the choices we make in how we interact with people, and we mold it even more by how we teach our children. If we harden them with unwaveringly harsh policies, we create a harder, harsher world. If we expect and allow them to be respectful of one another's needs and differences, we create a kinder, more supportive world.

Qorsho Hassan, who was Minnesota's Teacher of the Year for 2020-2021, shared a wonderful example of empathetic teaching on Twitter. She wrote:


"My second graders solved math problems in hush tones because their classmate fell asleep on the reading carpet. Tiptoeing, whispering & all. When the student woke up, they joyously welcomed him back to our learning community. It was the most brilliant display of radical empathy."

Beautiful. Every part of this tweet is beautiful, from the visual of the students trying to let the student sleep to her referring to the class as "our learning community."

We shared a story of a teacher explaining why he let his student sleep in class a few years ago, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. That alone should tell us what kind of world we actually live in. Radical empathy may not be as rare as some seem to think it is.

Hassan's tweet prompted others to share similar stories, each as heartwarming as the next.

"I had a senior once fall deeply deeply asleep in class," wrote another teacher. "He had been training for the state wrestling tourney and was exhausted. I let him sleep, the kids tiptoed out after class, and I let him sleep through most of lunch."

People often underestimate how much kids in school are juggling on top of just the basic upheaval of growing. And that's assuming everything is healthy at home. For kids coming from homes with neglect or abuse, poverty or food insecurity, illness or tragedy, some extra care is not only nice, but necessary.

As another teacher pointed out, there are legitimate reasons for a child to be so tired that they fall asleep in class. Most kids wouldn't nap if you tried to make them, so there must be a lot going on for a kid to drift off at school. It's entirely possible that they just kept themselves up too late watching TikTok videos or something, but we also create a more compassionate world by giving people the benefit of the doubt and watching for patterns that might clue us into some larger issue.

Kids learn as much by example as they do by what we actively try to teach them, and clearly Hassan is exemplifying a culture of kindness and compassion in her classroom.

So many lessons go beyond academics, and often those lessons are the most important for kids to learn. We can watch out for one another. We can honor our different circumstances. We can make allowances, especially when they aren't hindering anyone else's progress. We can treat everyone as if their needs matter and celebrate people getting what they need to be successful.

We have to live the way we want the world to be, and radical empathy like this creates a better world for everyone.

Thank you Qorsho Hassan for showing us a simple yet profound example of what that looks like in the real world.


Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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