4th grade is a great year to teach students about being empathetic. They begin to understand things from others’ perspectives and can reflect on their choices. However, it they are not masters at it. After seeing that many students were having difficulty taking responsibility for the behavior, I decided to teach them a lesson on how to act respectfully.
My students have heard the word “respect” talked about for year and they were comfortable with producing a written response. To activate prior knowledge, I asked them to write what they think “respect” means and an example of what it looks/sounds like when someone is being respectful.
After students had a chance to write, I asked for a few to share. Students gave examples such as, “help a friend” or “say nice words”. I asked the students, “Who is benefitting from the respectful behavior?” They said that they were and a friend.
I wrote up the definition on the board: Respect means that you take into consideration the desires and ideas of others and use them when you make decisions.
After I showed them how to record their examples of what respectful behaviors matched the desires that someone might have, I asked them to do the same thing independently.
For this activity, two important “desires” of students in the classroom were left on the t-chart on the board. Students were suppose to record those two and write matching respectful behaviors that they can show. They were also suppose to add more of their own “desires” and “respectful behaviors”.
This lessons was designed to help student think beyond their own motivations and realize that they have choices of behavior that takes into consideration the feeling of others. I hope that after this lesson, the students will begin to think before they act and become a little more empathetic.
Students learned about the definition of “respect”, shared out a few ideas during the guided practice, thought independently about respectful actions that they can personally take, and now they are ready to share again.
I asked students to share a second time because I wanted to showcase the behavior that as a class we can begin to see. Individual students are sharing specific behavior that they have selected to do and now everyone else knows that that is their goal as well. Also, it supports the building of a classroom community as students begin to see each other as a team and not competitors.