I was 15 years old when I first read To Kill a Mockingbird. While reading her words, I realized I had acted on it as a child. I also confronted my young adult self who could too quickly withhold it. From Harper Lee’s hand and Atticus Finch’s mouth, I found a touchstone for empathy: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Now I preach it, work to instill it, commit to upholding it. Empathy. It’s one of the hardest and most human acts of teaching. Really, it’s the precipice on which all our work rests.
Now that classrooms are ready and curriculums have been launched, we wanted to take a moment to ruminate on those contextual circumstances that impact our classrooms: social justice, culturally responsive teaching, and the facilitator of them all, empathy. We hope this resource will help you find an entrance into this work with your learners.