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Empathizing With Students

2019/05/30

"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?" - Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)


Empathy: the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspective, and use that knowledge to guide our actions.


Empathizing with your students will bring your teaching ability to the next level. If you have no idea on where to start, here are some ways to get you going on having the right mind-set.


Observing classes other than English

It you are new to learning Japanese, and/or new to teaching, a good start would be observing or participating in classes other than English during those 'free' periods. Sitting in a class you understand little of is a valuable in experiencing empathy. At the same time, you might even pick up some new teaching approaches from the Japanese teachers. Be sure to check for permission with the head teacher beforehand.


Learning a new language

If your Japanese ability already intermediate/advance, how about taking the challenge of learning a foreign language you are not familiar with? Step into the shoes of being a student once again.


Thinking back about your student days

Take a journey back to when you started learning a foreign language. Did your mind just go blank whenever your teacher did not use any English at all? How did you go about reacting to it? How did it set your attitude in learning a foreign language?


Day one in Japan

Similar to the previous point. How did you learn Japanese when you first arrived here with zero knowledge of the language and culture? What made you yearn to learn more? Or what made you come to dislike learning it?


Being able to empathize with the students will make you a more able teacher, and is one of the key steps in developing yourself as a teacher. Realizing and understanding how the students receive your lessons not only helps you to empathize with them, but also teaches you how to simplify your lessons and make it easier for them.


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