Sunday, April 2, 2017

"Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another." - Alfred Adler

Empathy is an important topic for most teachers, and one that I have written about on this site and in other articles numerous times. For my 37 years in the classroom, lessons about showing empathy were as important as lessons about literature.

Throughout my tenure as a teacher, and because of my personal empathy in connecting with students, various administrations "rewarded" me by giving me all of the students that no other teachers wanted to deal with: the ones who were new, the ones who had big issues and challenges, the ones with no friends, and the ones who did not fit in. I did not mind, and actually felt it was better for the kids, too, because I would do my best to help them, when some others might not care quite as much.  When the "new" student came to my classroom, I always felt that my most important job as the teacher was to set that student up for success by finding him a new friend in my classroom who had the same lunch period.  My school was large - 4 lunch periods, and very confusing, with lots of different lines for types of food- but that was not why I was worried about the new kids. This most important objective was all about the social aspect -  to find the student a friend to eat with.

If you are an adult and have forgotten about the importance of lunch time in junior high and high school, let me remind you that lunch is the most coveted time of the school day. Students can freely discuss the events of the day, compare notes before the next big test, have some laughs, and relax for a generous 30 minutes.  Lunch time is high school heaven, unless you have no friends and are eating alone, and then it is high school hell.  Having a solid lunch group of friends can make the difference between having a great high school experience and a terrible one.  

A senior at a high school in Boca Raton, Florida, saw the sadness and isolation of many students at his high school.  He felt their pain as he remembered how sad he was as a Haitian immigrant at a new school, with no friends to talk to and no friends to share lunch time, so he did something about it. Because of his extraordinary empathy, this caring young man formed a club called WE DINE TOGETHER, and his group makes sure that no one eats alone at his school for lunch. He was able to put together a large group of kids from all facets of the school, including football players, who are very often the most popular kids at school.  His message has been well received, and the group #WeDineTogether is forming chapters at other schools.  

I applaud these kids.  Negotiating one's way through the social aspects of high school is difficult, and they are making it easier for kids to feel accepted.  Please watch the clip of this remarkable young man and his friends!  I am so proud of their efforts, and I am not even their teacher! Kindness matters every single day. 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

You can find many strategies for teaching in Dede's book. Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available or on Amazon at 

Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit  

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

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