Making Caring Common
Raising kids who care about others and the common good.
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Resources For Educators

Welcome to Making Caring Common’s Resources for Educators, Teachers, Counselors, School Administrators, and School Leaders!

We offer strategies, resources lists, audits, surveys, discussion guides, and more, which we hope you will use in your school. You can review the list of resources below or click to sort by the following topics: Bias, Bullying, Caring and Empathy, Gender, Leadership, Moral and Ethical Development, Romantic Relationships, School Culture and Climate, Sexual Harassment and Misogyny, Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), and Talking Across the Aisle.

 

Welcome to Making Caring Common’s Resources for Educators!

We offer strategies, resources lists, audits, surveys, discussion guides, and more, which we hope you will use in your school. Our work includes key topics, all connected by our commitment to forefront caring and concern for the common good at school, at home, and in our communities. You can review the list of resources below or use the dropdown to sort by topic.

 

 
For Educators: How to Build Empathy and Strengthen Your School Community

To help educators learn how to build empathy among their school communities, the Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education reviewed existing research on empathy and the strategies of evidence-based programs that promote it. Our work shows that there’s more to developing empathy than simply asking students to “walk in someone else’s shoes.”

In this resource, you’ll find steps you can take to build real empathy in your students and your community.

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For Educators: Relationship Mapping Strategy

There may be nothing more important in a child’s life than a positive and stable relationship with a caring adult. For students, a positive connection to at least one school adult — whether a teacher, counselor, sports coach, or other school staff member — can have tremendous benefits that include reduced bullying, lower drop-out rates, and improved social emotional capacities.

Rather than leave these connections to chance, relationship mapping invests time in making sure that every student is known by at least one adult.

Using this strategy, school staff identify youth who do not currently have positive connections with school adults during a private meeting. Those students are then paired with a supportive adult mentor within the school. Throughout the year, mentors support each other through the successes and challenges of building relationships with students, and school administrators routinely communicate with staff to determine how well the process is going. At the end of the year, the staff convenes to talk about how their efforts may have positively affected students. Adults may also choose to pay particular attention to “at risk” students as these connections may be particularly important for students who are having a hard time at home or in school.

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For Educators: Caring Community Youth Capstone Strategy

How can we inspire and teach young people to care about and take responsibility for others, to think clearly about and pursue justice, to stand up for important principles?

Research suggests that developing these key moral capacities is not achieved via one-shot class assignments or brief programs but through sustained commitment and reflection within the context of peer and adult relationships. Yet children rarely engage in either substantial ethical activities or reflection, guided by adults who stand for important moral values, or even dialogue about how to live those values day to day.

Shared experiences and rituals can tie together school and community as places that value care and commitment and play a vital part in fostering a moral identity in students. Over the course of a semester or an academic year, the Caring Community Youth Capstone supports young people’s ethical development and builds a positive school culture where young people are responsible for creating a caring community.

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For Educators: School Climate Committee Strategy

The School Climate Committee is a key mechanism for creating positive social norms, for reducing bullying, and for developing more respectful, caring children. It also gives students agency in creating positive social norms.

A growing body of research supports the key role of school culture and social norms in preventing a wide array of social and emotional problems and promoting the development of caring, responsible, and respectful children. As children enter adolescence, they are especially influenced by social norms — by what other teen’s consider important, by how other teens define who is and is not worthy of concern, and by how other teens gain power and respect.

Because students primarily take signals from other students about social norms and what is ethically acceptable, and because students have inside knowledge about social dynamics, it is mainly students—especially acting together—who can change norms. This School Climate Committee strategy is one way to channel student power and influence in their school community.

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For Educators: Circle of Concern Strategy

Helping students develop greater empathy is essential for building a positive school climate, but equally important is considering who students have empathy for.

Children and adults alike are predisposed to empathize for those who are in their own social group. For example, “jocks” may have empathy for other jocks, but not for “nerds.” Boys may have empathy for other boys, but not for girls. Sometimes children lack empathy for their peers who are socially challenged or have disabilities. Empathy for many different kinds of people is important in its own right and is the basis for children’s developing conceptions of and commitments to fairness and justice.

The Circle of Concern strategy is designed to help children — and adults — become more aware of those for whom they don’t have empathy. It is also designed to widen their circle of concern.

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For Educators: Leaning Out Report Discussion Guide

Discussing gender can be challenging. For some youth, this is an immensely personal or even heated topic that brings up questions of equality and privilege. Others may question whether gender biases even exist. Finally, the idea that biases can be implicit—and discrimination unconscious—may itself be a novel, challenging concept to some teenagers. Fortunately, the payoff in broaching these topics is huge.

By allowing children to explore this topic, share ideas for improvement, and participate in community-building and empathy-promoting activities, you are taking steps towards ensuring that your classroom is a place where everyone is respected, supported, and empowered.

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For Educators: Girls Leadership Program Checklist

A wide variety of programs and interventions directly or indirectly foster leadership skills in girls, varying extensively in activities, length, and research base. These programs range from classic girls-only activity based programs such as the Girl Scouts and Girls Inc. to more targeted programs and curricula specifically developed to build leadership. Opportunities span a multitude of interests, many representing increasing efforts to engage girls in fields in which women continue to be underrepresented (e.g. STEM, public office).

Given the wide variety of programs and interventions that foster leadership skills in girls and the limited research on efficacy, it can often be challenging to select a program. Based on research and the wisdom of practitioners, and based in part on recommendations from the Girl Scout Research Institute, we have created the following easy to-use guide to help parents and educators identify high quality girls’ leaderships programs.

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For Educators: Gender Bias Case Study

Gender biases and/or discrimination is surprisingly common in many schools and sometimes happens beneath school staff’s radar. As adults, we can shed light on these important topics that often go undiscussed at school. These discussions can be challenging. For some youth, this is an immensely personal or even heated topic that brings up questions of equality and privilege. Others may question whether gender biases even exist. Finally, the idea that biases can be implicit—and discrimination unconscious—may itself be a novel concept to some teenagers.

Fortunately, the payoff in broaching these topics is huge. By allowing children to explore this topic, share ideas for improvement, and participate in community-building and empathy-promoting activities, you are taking steps towards ensuring that your classroom or school is a place where everyone is respected, supported, and empowered.

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For Educators: Webinar on Preventing Sexual Harassment and Misogyny

This webinar from Share My Lesson explores our report The Talk: How Adults Can Promote Young People’s Healthy Relationships and Prevent Misogyny and Sexual Harassment, which highlights these issues and offers insight into how adults can begin to have meaningful and constructive conversations with young people to promote healthy relationships and prevent misogyny and sexual harassment in their lives.

Note: Registration is free and the webinar may fulfill one hour of PD credit.

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For Educators: Sexual Harassment and Misogyny Resource List

The following is a partial list of resources for educators interested in preventing misogyny and sexual harassment.

These resources offer useful activities, information, websites, and/or programs/curricula. We’ve tried to identify key resources, but there are a vast number of resources on these various topics, and we surely missed some. We also want to underscore that while we think each of the identified resources contains valuable information, we do not endorse all the recommendations/views in these resources. Some of the resource descriptions listed below have been pulled from organizational websites.

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For Educators: Sexual Harassment and Misogyny Scenarios

Many teachers have heard or seen students saying things that are misogynistic, objectifying, insensitive, or disrespectful based on gender, sexuality, or sexual orientation. Because these comments may catch us off guard and are often sensitive in nature, many adults struggle to know what to say in the moment. By thinking through and practicing our responses in advance, we can be prepared the next time we hear these comments in our schools.

Below are practice scenarios for teachers based on real-life student conversations and interactions. These scenarios can be reviewed by individual teachers or as part of a professional development program. It may be particularly powerful for teachers to work in pairs or small groups to discuss and practice potential responses.

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For Educators: Sexual Harassment and Misogyny Audit

This audit is intended to help educators reflect on the policies and practices of their school related to young people’s healthy romantic relationships, misogyny and sexual harassment, and assault. It is intended to help you answer these questions: Are we doing what is needed to prevent harassment and promote healthy relationships? What more could we do? Please answer each of the following questions about your school by checking “yes,” “no,” or “I’m not sure.” Please also reflect on the “evidence” for your answer—“how you know” the answer or what the answer “looks like” in your school.

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For Educators: Bullying Resource List

Educators have an important role to play in preventing bullying and promoting social, emotional, and ethical capacities in students.

These resources offer useful activities, information, websites, programs, and curricula. While we think each of the identified resources contains valuable information, we do not endorse all the recommendations or views in these resources. Some of the resource descriptions listed below have been pulled from organizational websites.

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For Educators: What Would You Do? Strategy

As children get older, they face ever more complex situations that can be difficult to navigate.

Particularly salient are moral or ethical dilemmas, which concern issues of fairness, justice, and caring. These are decision-making problems without definitive right or wrong choices that affect other people as well as the self, and thus, they are fruitful exercises in moral reasoning.

With this light-lift strategy, students will practice evaluating and constructing moral or ethical dilemmas to get them thinking critically about others’ perspectives and feelings in challenging situations. Students will reflect on their own judgments of others and the importance of context, and what they themselves could do in challenging times.

Currently, our What Would You Do? strategy is available to schools in our Caring Schools Network. Reach out to Glenn Manning, Senior Program Coordinator at Making Caring Common to learn more about Caring Schools Network.

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For Educators: Story of Us Strategy

Storytelling is a powerful tool for eliciting emotion and curiosity. It can be especially valuable in prompting students to reflect on their own identities and values, and to recognize that despite people’s differing stories, we all share commonalities. Stories are a great reminder that we are all human and that we are all capable of bridging difference through understanding and connecting emotionally with others.

With this light-lift strategy, students will identify and investigate their personal set of values and what/who matters to them. Students will use these values to guide the telling of (and making sense of) their own story. Using Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” as a guide, students will then learn about real people’s stories, particularly those often marginalized or misunderstood. Finally, students will make connections between their own and others’ stories to appreciate the similarities and differences in their values.

Currently, our Story of Us strategy is available to schools in our Caring Schools Network. Reach out to Glenn Manning, Senior Program Coordinator at Making Caring Common to learn more about Caring Schools Network.

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For Educators: Listening Deeply Strategy

There are many approaches to good listening, and this lesson centers around three primary skills: engaged body language, true focus, and expressing empathy.

The more students practice active listening, without being in a two-way conversation, the more they’ll come to value showing interest when someone is speaking, trying to understand their thoughts and feelings, and making them feel heard. The personal nature of the listening prompts also sets the stage for student sharing, which can build trust and connection in the classroom.

With this light-lift strategy, students will practice being active, authentic listeners with a partner — listening to make the speaker feel heard and without the need to reciprocate the conversation, but rather, to better understand and communicate with the speaker. By speaking for up to a few minutes, speakers will also get more comfortable sharing about themselves and expressing vulnerability.

Currently, our Listening Deeply strategy is available to schools in our Caring Schools Network. Reach out to Glenn Manning, Senior Program Coordinator at Making Caring Common to learn more about Caring Schools Network.

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For Educators: Humans of Your School Strategy

Students’ capacity for empathy can be developed by learning to appreciate other people’s stories.

By engaging with others in a structured way and trying to shape a narrative that encapsulates a piece of that person, students will understand the nuances of lived experiences, values, and perspectives. By interviewing others, especially those who may be different from them, they will practice vulnerability and develop trust, which in turn will strengthen their school community.

With this light-lift strategy, students will dive into narratives of self and others to offer more nuanced perspectives and feelings around people’s stories. The narratives will mirror the “Humans of New York” series, and students will study a few of them to get a sense of the expectations (e.g., interviewing other students or faculty members). Humans of Your School provides students with opportunities to connect with those different from them, to listen to different stories and try to understand their different perspectives, and to appreciate differences while also finding commonalities.

Currently, our Humans of Your School strategy is available to schools in our Caring Schools Network. Reach out to Glenn Manning, Senior Program Coordinator at Making Caring Common to learn more about Caring Schools Network.

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For Educators: Everyday Caring Strategy

Research shows that being kind and caring makes people feel good — by recognizing the appreciation of others as well as beginning to view oneself as altruistic or compassionate.

Studies have also shown that feeling care and concern for others is linked to altruism, and an effective strategy to spark caring is to encourage people to imagine what others are going through and how they feel. Kindness and caring are also contagious. Literally. They can spread and influence people to do good deeds beyond their existing networks.

With this light-lift strategy, students reflect and discuss how to encourage more kindness and caring, for themselves and others, at their school and beyond. They will practice regular intentional acts so they become routine and normalized parts of students’ lives. By reporting back, students will learn about each other’s experiences and likely use them as sources of inspiration. The activity encourages a variety of kind and caring acts, including self-improvement.

Currently, our Everyday Caring strategy is available to schools in our Caring Schools Network. Reach out to Glenn Manning, Senior Program Coordinator at Making Caring Common to learn more about Caring Schools Network.

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