There are a lot of similarities between an angry customer and an angry student/parent/colleague. This article answers the question, what is the best way to move forward when anger happens, and breaks down next steps into a pretty simple structure of 3 phases after the initial empathy.
Initial empathy: I am sorry….
Phase 1: Sensing: ask questions to try and understand the issue
Phase 2: Seeking: brainstorm and explore potential solutions
Phase 3: Settling: working with the person to choose the solution that will provide the best outcome.
My two cents, it is important to demonstrate that how the person is feeling matters to you. Be sincere and attentive.
This article is a great starting point for important and timely conversations about what we are role modeling and messaging to our kids. In addition to a parenting opportunity, a next step is to push the envelope about where we are making time in school for these important conversations… is it Health Class, parent sessions, part of advisory curriculum? All of those? I would highlight the need to look deeply at being a “Critical Consumer of Media and Culture.” Let’s get going and teach our kids!
The above Burger King bullying ad gives us a “Just in Time” opportunity to address bullying and the role of bystanders in either a large or small group lesson. Here are two short, easy lessons that anyone can lead:
Large Group Audience (think Grade Level or Division) Minimum 7 minutes
Introduce the Burger King Bullying Ad that has gone viral and ask the audience to look for one phrase, image, or word that resonates with them. (1 min)
Watch the video (3 min)
Ask students to turn and talk for 1 minute with a neighbor. During this time each person share the selected phrase, image or word and why it was selected. (1 min)
Optional: Ask for some students to share
Pose challenge questions to audience to think about the bystander role (Pause). Then ask the following questions. What role can each of us play as a bystander? What do you hope someone would do for you? (1 min)
Positive Wrap-up. Acknowledge heavy and hurtful topic. Highlight opportunity to be the change. High five your partner. (1 min)
Small Group Audience (think Advisory or Homeroom) Minimum 15 minutes
Introduce the Burger King Bullying Ad that has gone viral. Ask the students to watch it without comment or talking. (4 min)
Introduce rewatching the video to Connect: Ask students to listen and look for a personal connection. One possible frame is: This video reminds me of _______? Share paper for students to write down thinking. (5 min)
After rewatching the video and think time move into small group share: break students into pairs or trios to share their connection. (2 min)
Introduce Extend: Ask students to think and jot down how their thinking has shifted, deepened or moved ahead because of what someone shared. One idea frame is: This video added to my thinking because______. (2 min) Share if desired.
Introduce Challenge: Ask students what challenges in your school come to mind about the topic of bullying or being a bystander? What is a possible personal next step? Share ideas out loud or on sticky notes to document thinking (students read each idea quietly) (1-2 min)
Positive Wrap-up. Acknowledge heavy and hurtful topic. Highlight opportunity to be the change right now. Share something positive about your partner(s). (1-2 min)
Ideas for this lesson came from the book: Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison and the “Connect-Extend-Challenge” thinking routine.
In Alan November’s book Who Owns the Learning?, November digs into thinking about students as global communicators and collaborators. He taps various experts and their thinking to better understand the path forward; the information triangulates back to a powerful point – learning empathy.
“Americans are often inexperienced in valuing other culture’s perspectives. Top global talent must understand and value other peoples’ points of view. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans think, ‘If the world doesn’t look like us, it’s broken.” (p 65, November)
Does that statement, made by the CEO of one of the world’s largest banks, surprise you? Do you feel defensive? What do we need to think about and what is this comment telling us about what skills and attitudes we are fostering with our students? What are the opportunities to shift and change what students experience?
The writing is on the wall. We are a global world and no amount of looking after only number 1 is going to change the fact that we exist in an diverse and multi-view community. In fact, a great opportunity is at hand! Never before have we been so clearly able to see the angst, fear and worry that a lack of understanding and empathy brings. It is time to empower and guide student thinking, as the future leaders of our world, toward developing empathy and inclusive collaborative leadership. Whether we are thinking about our advisory program, daily classroom outcomes or a new student leadership model, it is time to begin working together, listening to understand and finding common ground to forge the best path forward. it is time to value empathy for what it is: a foundational pillar of the present and future.
November, A. C. (2012). Who owns the learning?: preparing students for success in the digital age. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.