Creating a classroom culture that fosters a growth mindset continues to be a focus here in Room 208. Earlier this fall, I introduced the traits optimism and flexibility to the children. It warms my heart to see them living these traits daily in their work and play.
I recently introduced a third trait that supports a growth mindset, empathy. Using the book, Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, by Mo Willems, the children learned that empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. In this story, Leonardo is terrible at being a monster. He has great difficulty scaring people. After much research and practice, he finds the perfect candidate to frighten, a little boy named Sam, and scares the "tuna salad out of him". Leonardo realizes that scaring people isn't quite as enjoyable as he anticipated. Leonardo makes a critical decision. He decides that instead of pursuing his own dream of becoming a terrible monster, he could instead become a great friend (to Sam).
After reading this book, I introduced a "second grade friendly" definition of empathy: when you feel someone's feelings in your own heart. The children immediately connected with this new word, sharing ways that just like Leonardo, they have been empathetic too. One child shared that they recently saw another second grader playing alone on the playground, and thought about how it would feel to walk in that child's shoes. These thoughts/feelings led this child to invite the other to join she and her friends in play.
We will continue to keep our eyes open for when we see or feel empathy, both in our classroom and in the whole world.