Special Report
Teaching Video

Teachers, Try This: An SEL Lesson That Teaches Kindness and Empathy

By Lauren Santucci — November 7, 2022 4:29
An 8th grader works on a class project at Paw Paw Middle School on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Paw Paw, Michigan. The students were asked to write a word that was important to them and their work in the classroom. They then added the words to a poster to serve as a class "contract." The district has upped its social-emotional curriculum during the pandemic, as more students struggle. That is common nationwide. A recent AP-NORC/MTV poll found that nearly half of U.S. teens said the pandemic has made it harder to be happy and maintain their mental health.

Carey Arensberg, an elementary school teacher in Alabama, uses a “reflections of me” lesson to teach her 4th grade students about kindness, empathy, and the power of words.

The lesson starts with watching a video. Then students share what they think is special about themselves, and their classmates follow up with what they think is special about that student.

Arensberg shared the lesson in a popular TikTok video and discussed how it helps build better relationships among the students and encourages more positive behavior.

Here, she explains how she leads the lesson, and how she prepares her class for it by teaching them about the power of their words.

Lauren Santucci
Video Producer
As a video producer, Lauren Santucci produces, films, and edits meaningful, human-interest digital video and works closely with Education Week editors and reporters. Prior to joining Education Week in 2022, she produced videos for Al Jazeera, FRONTLINE PBS, and The Texas Tribune. She has a master’s degree in visual journalism from Ohio University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Coverage of leadership, summer learning, social and emotional learning, arts learning, and afterschool is supported in part by a grant from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.


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