Welcome back! We hope that all of you had a restorative, safe summer with your loved ones, and that your school years are off to a smooth start.
The Empatico team and I spent the summer reflecting on the power of kindness and connection, and how we can help foster a global community that cares for each other, even during the most difficult of times. We’ve been so touched by the stories of people – educators, frontline workers, caregivers, children, and so many more – who practiced empathy, compassion, and resiliency, even as they faced numerous challenges over the past eighteen months.
In my role at Empatico, I focus on content development, with the partnership of many wonderful colleagues, educators, organizations, and field experts. To capture this spirit of recognizing and leveraging our emotions, values, and strengths to overcome obstacles and support others, we worked together to create activities for a new learning adventure – The Great Empatico Expedition
The Great Empatico Expedition aims to help students reflect on their feelings and experiences, reconnect with their peers, and build new friendships. The Expedition is a journey through different worlds associated with social-emotional competencies, such as Identity Island (self-awareness), Friendship Forest (social-awareness and relationship skills), and Zen Gardens (self-management– and coming soon!). Within each world, you will find a series of activities that have been created with partners such as the Greater Good Science Center, Code.org, and Breakout EDU. We are also so grateful to the educators in our community who helped us create, test, and refine these activities to make them more meaningful for students.
While each activity can be completed within your own class, I also hope that you will use them as an opportunity to engage with a partner class in another community to help your students share their stories and perspectives, build an understanding and appreciation of peers from a different background, and learn from each other. To help facilitate this experience, we’ve added flexible options to engage in Empatico live virtual exchanges, Flipgrid conversations, Wakelet collaborations, joint Kahoot! challenges, and more.
Lastly, I wanted to share a few of my favorite activities, which were designed specifically for students returning back to school:
- The Story of My Name
- Cultural Identity Tree
- Stand Up and Share
- Our Class Norms
- My Identity: Open Mic
- Friendship Bingo
I hope that you will give these activities a try – if you do, please share your experiences on social media using the #EmpathyAwaits hashtag, and reach out to me to share any feedback, thoughts, or ideas for how we can continue supporting you best. I look forward to hearing from you, and wish you all the best for the school year ahead!
Shraya and the Empatico Team
Here’s what some of the educators we worked with are saying:
“Incredible, diverse, meaningful and engaging activities! Love the different digital options that are being utilized – so fun, interactive and visual. Can’t wait to show my students and see all the amazing opportunities that we will create and share this year!”
Lynette Richau (South Carolina, USA)
“Friendship Forest is a great place for beginning of the year activities and activities that can be done when the class is not getting along well and we need to reset. As a teacher, I also like that [these activities] help teachers expand their practices and help out tech-wary teachers by connecting tech to a simple activity in most cases.”
Erin Sears (Iowa, USA)