Friday, May 10, 2019

Student and Teacher Empaths

Some of us pick up on others' emotions the minute they walk into a room. We feel where they are and what they are experiencing. We may be empaths. As educators, we have students who are empaths too--they take on all the emotions in a room. If you're a teacher that's an empath, you know the weight those students carry around each and every day.

In general, empaths have to make sure they get plenty of alone time, time away from people because when you are picking up all of those emotions, it can be consuming so you need time to reenergize.

I was thinking about this topic today because the end of the school year is a particularly challenging time for empaths since transitions like this create less routine and lots of varied emotion which can be challenging.

Of course, like any trait or personality definition, there's a continuum here from the highly sensitive person or empath who is extremely aware of others' emotions to those who may not pick up on emotions at all, and as in any category, there's a continuum of how much or how little you or your students may be like this. That is why it's critical that we acknowledge this aspect of people the end of the year, and deal with it with as much sensitivity and care as we can.

Saying Good-bye
It is emotional to say good-bye to people you've worked and learned with for a year or more. There's a sense of loss and all the emotions that go with that. That's why it's important to make decisions about the rituals you will support and partake in to make those good-byes meaningful.

Less Structure
The same rituals that help us to say good-bye in meaningful ways also challenge the routines in place, routines that provide a sense of safety, comfort, and ease with the school year. As these routines change, children can feel less in control or at peace. That's why it's important to meet a routine challenges with new and simpler routines, routines that provide more time for play, talk, rest, reflection, and care.

Challenging Emotions
For some, the end of the school year brings about great emotions, and it can be challenging to deal with those emotions. When these strong emotions hit, you have to think deeply about the individual and how you will support that person. What can you do to both ease and support their strong emotional response--how can you acknowledge their feelings in ways that are positive and helpful?

The end of the school year is an emotional time, and to acknowledge that is the first step to dealing with that in ways that benefit the good culture you've nurtured all year.