Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Knowing ourselves so we can understand others

Have you ever reacted to something in a way that you later regretted? Have you ever been confused or upset by the way someone else reacted to something you did? 
During a lesson on empathy and communication, my students were asked to recognize emotions in other people, so that we could learn to use empathy. The students were explaining that they could recognize what the other person was feeling, because they remembered a time that they felt that way. 
Image result for mood meter
How you're feeling on the inside can impact how you outwardly express yourself in your daily life. We discussed times when we may have reacted to something small in a way that was to harsh, because of an underlying emotion happening on the inside.  How we feel has a large influence on our decision making. It's easy to think back and recognize these instances where we let our emotions take control, but often in the actual moment, we aren't aware of how we are feeling or how those feelings are influencing our behaviors. 
In order to become more aware of our emotions we looked at a mood meter. The mood meter shows that all of our emotions have two parts to them; how much energy we have and how pleasant we feel. When we put these together on a chart it creates 4 quadrants. Colors are then assigned to each of these quadrants based on the emotions that are grouped there. 
Groups of 4 students turned their desks into a giant mood meter, with each desk becoming one quadrant. Then the students were given a stack of note cards with different emotions on them. They had to reflect and think about where this emotion might live on the meter.

For example: SCARED: Thinking of a time when you felt scared. Was it a pleasant feeling? Was your energy high or low? Students knew that feeling scared is not usually a pleasant feeling, but is more high energy, so it would live somewhere in the red quadrant. 
After the students had placed the emotions on their mood meters, we discussed their answers as a class, trying to relate others experiences with our own. Then students created their own mini mood meters to put on their desks. This allows them to learn how to understand their emotions and communicate how they are feeling to others. That way they can reflect and think "I am feeling red, is there a way I could get to yellow or green?" 
We also discussed how there is no place on the quadrant that is a "bad emotion" we all experience emotions, and it is healthy to let yourself feel an emotion, as long as you understand what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. 
Being aware of our emotions and how the effect our decisions and reactions helps us understand and work with others. We can recognize that someones reaction to us might not even be about us, and learn to try and understand what else the other person might be experiencing. When we learn to ask ourselves what we need and ask others what they need, and intentionally responding with empathy, we can strengthen relationships in and out of our classroom.

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