Students at Taylor Evans PS have a lesson in empathy and kindness
April 8, 2021
GUELPH, Ontario – Earlier this year, students in Lisa Enright Cornish’s junior/intermediate MID class looked at empathy and kindness.
Students in Cornish’s class sometimes struggle with social issues and seeing things from another’s perspective, so by studying empathy and kindness students learned to listen and be more open to other’s needs.
To start this conversation, the class read The Stone Thrower by Jael Ealey Richardson and made connections to the racism featured in the story. As a follow-up activity, students then studied unlearn posters and discussed what they meant as a class.
After discussing the unlearn posters, each student in the class created a heart-themed drawing to be included in a kindness quilt. Along with the heart art, each student also wrote about a topic that was important to them. Topics in the kindness quilt included racism, LGBTQ+ equity, poverty, bullying, body image, mental health and more.
Along with the kindness quilt, the class also made paper kindness jars for everyone in the class. As part of this, each student in the class anonymously wrote something nice about everyone in the class and put the nice words in each jar. Students in the class really enjoyed this activity because it felt really nice to hear the kind words of their classmates.
Some groups of students decided to take their kindness learning a bit further and independently created other initiatives. One group of students decided to create a mental health feeling jar where they wrote down things about their mental health and put them in the jar to read at a later time.
Another student, Alex, decided to educate her class and school about her own life experience by creating a LGBTQ+ equity poster. Earlier this year, Alex came out to the students in her class as identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
As a way to spread awareness through the school, Alex created an informational poster and shared it with the class and hung copies of it throughout the school.
After learning about Alex’s experience, the class came together to support Alex’s initiative by supporting Alex and participating in a class photo where students held flags that represent different LGBTQ+ communities.
Other students in the school who read Alex’s poster supported her by starting conversations about equity and inclusion. Students in the class were happy that their lessons in kindness and empathy supported Alex in coming out to them and allowed them to give her the support she needs.
Many students in the class said that they wish to continue this kindness and empathy work as they leave Cornish’s classroom and enter high school.