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Alex H.

Unit Paper 3
Professor Amber Ward
October 5, 2017

It can be a very vulnerable experience for someone to share the private parts of their life;

but for teachers, it is important to consider all parts of their students lives to improve the quality

of their education and the relationships they will make. As Laurie A. Eldridge (2012) says, when

there is connection and trust, students will feel cared for, affirmed, and supported by their

teachers and ultimately do better in school. Teachers can foster this mutual respect by

empathizing with students lives such as social class, religion, and exposure to violence, abuse,

hunger, or anything that might affect their ability to engage and learn in class. Taking all aspects

of life into account is the idea of holistic integration. Daniel Pink (2006) describes this concept

of holistic thinking as the ability to grasp the relationships between relationships or simply,

seeing the big picture. The big picture not only includes information, knowledge, and context,

but also emotion. Thinking of students in their complete beings and connecting concepts with

emotional significance is a vulnerable but impactful experience for both teachers and students.

For my future elementary SPED students, I think the empathy braid is an appropriate

activity with a few modifications. For all activities, I will attempt to make them short in order to

hold attention. In addition, vulnerability has a complex meaning requiring some abstract

thought, so I would introduce the big idea in a different way. I would start by talking about

emotions and do an activity either labeling or acting out emotions (like freeze dance where the

students freeze in the emotion called out). Next, I would have them practice empathy, either one-

on-one or in groups, by giving the students a situation and having them describe how the person

might feel (ex: He lost his toy.). For the empathy braid, I would have the students consider their

emotions and think about something or someone that makes them feel good. They will create

their art to represent the object or feeling and with assistance, assemble the braid.

Eldridge, L. A. (2012). The ethic of caring holistically for art students: Esmeraldas boutique. In

L. H. Campbell & S. Simmons III (Eds.), The heart of education: Holistic approaches

(pp. 287-296). Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

Pink, D. (2006). A whole new mind: Why right-brainers will rule the future. New York, NY: The

Berkeley Group.