children and teachers in a classroom
May 10 2023

4 Benefits of Promoting Empathy and Inclusivity in the Classroom

Positive Action Team
Learn how fostering empathy and promoting inclusivity in the classroom benefits both students and teachers and the best programs for learning these values.

As classrooms increasingly become more diverse, ensuring that all students feel a sense of belonging and value is optimal for their academic and social-emotional development.

Empathy and inclusivity are essential values that help promote a safe and inviting environment in which all students can learn effectively.

At their core, both of these concepts revolve around building a classroom community that encourages open-mindedness, tolerance, and understanding

Here’s how:

  • When students feel a sense of belonging and connection with their peers and teachers, they’re more likely to engage in learning activities and take calculated risks that they normally wouldn’t.
  • When students are aware of their peers' unique differences, whether it be race, ethnicity, or religion, they’re more likely to decrease their biases and develop less aggressive personalities.
  • When students understand each other's strengths and weaknesses, they’re more likely to show kindness and develop a rapport, resulting in increased positive relationships.

Below are four specific benefits that both students and teachers experience when empathy and inclusivity are prioritized in the classroom:

1. Improved Academic Outcomes

Program evaluation results have shown that schools that prioritize empathy and inclusivity have higher scores than schools that focus solely on academic capabilities.

When students feel comfortable and supported in the classroom, they’re more likely to be cooperative by asking questions and participating in discussions.

This engagement can lead to improved academic outcomes, as students are actively learning and processing new information.

Take, for instance, Pineview Elementary School which witnessed immense improvement in its students' grades from an F to an A after introducing empathy and inclusivity-based learning into their curriculum.

With over 40 languages represented on campus, the Florida-based school decided to embrace Positive Action’s Character Education Programs to ensure that every student felt included, seen, and heard.

This not only led to an overall better learning environment for the students and teachers but also tremendously improved the students' grades.

Here’s what the school’s Principal, Marilyn Rahming, had to say about the Positive Action programs:

"When I first came to Pineview, our students were struggling academically. In fact, the first years that FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) preliminary testing was held in the Pineview district, the school would have received an 'F.' The following year, they received what would have been a 'D.' Now, they are officially an 'A' school."

2 . Increased Understanding of Other Students

By creating an environment that prioritizes empathy and inclusivity, students have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of their peers.

When students receive empathy and inclusivity in regard to experiences they’ve had, they're more likely to consider how their peers and friends might feel during their own hardships.

This helps them build great friendships based on positive relationships of trust. Empathy and inclusivity allow students to see the world from other students' perspectives and develop compassion for them.

Such attributes are important components of social-emotional learning and can help students build better relationships, resolve conflicts amicably, and communicate more respectfully.

This is clearly evident in how the Positive Action program has deeply increased the understanding of Pineview Elementary School’s students towards their peers, fostered better relationships, and encouraged mindfulness practices.

Expert Tip: Encourage students to engage in activities that promote empathy and inclusivity, such as sharing personal experiences, practicing active listening, and using "I" statements when expressing emotions.

“The Positive Action program is a perfect fit for us. It’s inoffensive for any culture…It’s not an add-on; we use it as a way of operating, a way of work. It provides a behavioral guide for our children. Children need to be taught how we behave in this culture, what the rules are, what the expectations are. It’s discipline, but focused in a very positive and effective way.”

Marilyn Rahming, Principal, Pineview Elementary School

3 - Reduced Bullying and Negative Behavior

By promoting inclusivity and empathy, classrooms become environments where bullying and negative behaviors like fighting and discrimination are less likely to occur.

This allows students to focus on their learning and personal growth in a supportive environment.

Bullying is an emotional, physical, and psychological torture that can have long-term adverse effects on the victims—emotional distress, poor academic performance, depression, despair, and suicidal thoughts.

Oftentimes, a lack of empathy, cultural competency, and inclusivity increases the risk of bullying.

And students with physical vulnerabilities, social skill challenges, and fewer supportive friends are more likely to get bullied.

That's why promoting empathy and inclusivity within the classroom setting is the greatest antidote to bullying and negative behavior.

When all students are valued and included in a classroom environment, diversity awareness, self-awareness, and feelings of belonging and connection to others increase.

And by encouraging empathy, students will understand and accept the differences between one another, minimizing the chance of conflict or discrimination.

Bullying and negative student behaviors will thus be less likely to occur because students will look out for one another and encourage amiable conflict resolution techniques.

Positive Action includes tons of character-based education programs that help reduce all forms of bullying.

These programs teach students key moral and ethical values, like empathy and inclusivity, that will guide their decision making and help them relate to others.

The program’s cost-effective Whole-School Reform Model, for instance, promotes a safe learning environment and assists with bullying prevention by:

  • Introducing social-emotional learning that helps students learn the steps to anger management, build healthy relationships, and make responsible decisions
  • Transforming the behavior of students through character-based education that emphasizes moral and ethical values such as empathy, honesty, and respect
  • Improving the mental and physical health of students through positive psychology

Fact: Positive Action is an evidence-based program. The curriculum boasts a 41% reduction in bullying behaviors.

4. Improved Teacher-Student Relationships

When teachers model empathy and inclusivity, they establish an open and trustworthy relationship with their students.

This helps students feel comfortable seeking assistance and reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings.

Empathy and inclusivity are some of the most effective teaching strategies to help educators build strong, healthy relationships with their students.

When empathy guides your teaching, you'll be able to see the world through your students' eyes, better understand what drives their behaviors, and find the right strategies to help them.

This will lead to less comparison or judgment, more compassion, and a stronger classroom community.

Similarly, inclusivity promotes social justice in education, as it ensures that the learning environment actively involves all students, regardless of their differences in race, ethnicity, or religion.

According to a recent study, teachers who display more empathy and inclusivity generally develop positive relationships with their students and make their learning more culturally and socially sensitive.

This approach makes teachers more likely to see their most challenging students in a positive light, show empathy towards their behaviors, and develop closer relationships with them.

When a classroom is led by a teacher who understands and shows empathy and inclusivity, there will also be a deeper sense of trust and interpersonal communication between the students and the teacher.

Students will feel safe to be themselves and freely communicate about their challenges as they continue to develop their own empathy.

Action: Take the time to get to know each of your students as individuals, and create opportunities for them to share their unique perspectives with the class.

Moreover, when teachers see the positive impacts of empathy and inclusivity in their classrooms, it can boost their confidence and job satisfaction. Teachers who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to stay committed to their profession.

The kits depicted below are ideal for supporting a positive school climate:

Fostering Empathy and Inclusivity in the Classroom

Bringing empathy and inclusivity into the classroom and expecting students to practice the same begins with modeling the behavior ourselves.

An excellent way to start is by identifying your personal biases and becoming sensitive to and aware of your students' beliefs, histories, and traditions.

In addition to practicing empathetic communication and building your own capacity for inclusivity, there are multiple educational interventions you can employ to teach these two values in the classroom.

These include:

  • Active listening: Teachers can encourage active listening by modeling the behavior themselves. They can encourage students to pay attention to what their peers are saying and respond with empathy. Active listening helps build understanding, compassion, and emotional intelligence.
  • Learning about and celebrating diversity: Teachers can incorporate materials and lessons that explore different cultures, religions, races, and backgrounds. This helps students develop a positive sense of self and empathy for others from diverse backgrounds.
  • Role-playing: Role-playing exercises can help students understand others and their perspectives. Teachers can provide various scenarios, and students can act as different characters in each situation. This exercise can also help students develop problem-solving skills and learn to negotiate.
  • Providing accommodation and support: Teachers can be proactive in accommodating students with special needs by modifying lessons, providing extra support, and ensuring accessibility in the classroom. This allows all students to participate equally in class.
  • Creating a supportive classroom environment: Creating a supportive classroom environment where students feel safe to express themselves can help them develop empathy. Teachers can encourage a culture of kindness and respect, where students are taught to be supportive of each other.
  • Addressing biases and stereotypes: Teachers can help students recognize and challenge their biases by having open and honest discussions about stereotypes, racism, and prejudice.
  • Practicing gratitude: Practicing gratitude can help students appreciate what they have and develop empathy towards those who may not have the same privileges. Teachers can also encourage them to perform acts of kindness for those in need.
  • Encouraging open communication: Teachers can create a safe and inclusive classroom environment by encouraging open communication, actively listening, and providing opportunities for students to express their thoughts and ideas.

Promote Empathy and Inclusivity in the Classroom With Positive Action

By fostering empathy and inclusivity values in the classroom, educators can ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed and thrive.

One of the best ways of promoting empathy and inclusivity in the classroom is by introducing a Character Education Program into the school’s curriculum.

A Character Education program will teach students key moral and ethical values, such as honesty, empathy, and inclusivity. This will allow them to develop a strong sense of personal integrity and teach them how to control their behaviors towards others.

The program also encourages students to develop values like compassion, responsibility, and respect, eventually leading to a more caring learning environment.

Positive Action offers special Character Education Programs that, when implemented, will help students understand the world through a lens of morality in a manner that prepares them to practice kindness, empathy, and inclusivity.

All the lessons in the programs are systematically organized to teach students to think about themselves and how they interact with others around them.

Some of the top programs created to promote empathy and inclusivity in the classroom include:

  • Behavior Improvement: A six-unit program that teaches students how to develop positive behaviors through self-discovery, social discovery, and reinforcement of positive social skills.
  • Classroom Management: A special program that helps teachers develop a closer relationship with their students through classic classroom management techniques, such as creating stimulating lessons and setting class rules together.
  • Positive School Climate: A research-based framework with key strategies for teachers to improve and support a positive school culture. These strategies include parental involvement and student engagement.

If you’re looking to promote empathy and inclusivity in your classrooms, Positive Action has a solution for you.

The online learning resource offers multiple programs designed to help students, educators, and school leaders increase empathy and inclusivity within classrooms.

The programs are tried and tested, with several success stories from satisfied users.

And most importantly, all the packages are easy to use, engaging, and guaranteed to transform the classroom. They will help shape students into well-behaved and well-rounded positive thinkers.