How to Nurture Empathic Joy in Your Classroom

Empathic joy leads students to help others in the classroom, not only for altruistic purposes, but to experience a sense of fulfillment. Instructors can nurture this quality in various ways.

Shared projects.

Students involved in the same projects can help each other for mutual benefit. A successful project grade provides tangible reinforcement of the helping behavior shared by one student with another and leads to positive reinforcement.

Student strengths.

Playing to a student’s strengths enables them to take pride in their abilities while continuing to develop those traits. For example, an advanced reader who helps a weak reader to do better will feel good about the ability to share a personal skill.

Sense of achievement.

Being asked to help a classroom peer and witnessing the peer’s progress reinforces a student’s self-confidence. In turn, the student will experience heightened joy from helping peers who benefit from his or her assistance.

Pride in recognition.

Students who are selected to assist others or who identify an opportunity to offer assistance often receive positive feedback from the instructor or peers. Public recognition nurtures empathic joy to motivate those students to continue aiding others.

Leadership development.

Confidence, progress, achievement, and recognition combine to develop leader-type qualities in students. Rising above the norm to be acknowledged as a leader helps students to enjoy the challenges and prestige of taking the lead.

Students not motivated to help others through compassion may offer their experience, skills, or strengths to others for the pleasure of empathic joy.