BlogGeneralBuilding Relationships With Empathy Maps

Building Relationships With Empathy Maps

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    School can take up to half of a student’s waking hours. It can be the best seven and a half hours of their day for some, where they feel safe, receive a warm meal, and are accepted and loved. However, for those subjected to peer pressure or bullying, it can be a place they want to try and prevent or where they feel isolated and rejected. It is up to educators to really get to know their students and establish relationships with them.

    Empathy map:

    An empathy map is a tool created by Dave Gray (Bland) for corporative use, most often used in collaborative teams to strengthen insights into each member. The empathy map would be a simple tool that teachers can use to better understand their students’ needs both in and out of the classroom.

    An empathy map is a collaborative visualization that expresses what we know about a specific user group. It externalizes user knowledge to

    1) facilitate decision-making and

    2) create a shared understanding of user needs.

    Four-Section Organizer:

    This four-block layout lets users see what the other is saying, thinking, doing, and feeling. This format is used to see what other people think about their own and other people’s reactions to themselves in an empathic way. By capturing how a student interprets these thoughts, the teacher can better understand how to best assist the student in responding to situations that go far beyond their control. It can also assist a student in realizing that other people’s thoughts are not quite as different from their own as they once believed, which could also help with social-emotional learning.

    Classroom Organizer:

    The original organizer can be tweaked to fit the needs of a specific classroom. The teacher can use each quadrant to identify areas in which they can connect with students and make better instructional or group decisions based on student input. Interests, goals, areas of strength, academic needs, career choice, and so on are examples of categories.

    Although a teacher may not want more than six areas on the empathy map, responses can help students see similarities with others and develop empathetic ideas that aid in the development of student-to-student relationships.

    Gains and Pains:

    A teacher can see a student’s strengths and weaknesses by combining these two areas. Areas that inhibit learning would be considered pains. It could be as simple as being unable to complete homework due to a lack of internet access at home, or as complex as a student believing they have no friends and that others mock them for their limitations.

    The positive aspects of a child’s life would be gained. This could be something like “I aced my last algebra test” or “I got a part in the upcoming school play.” Pains assist the teacher in identifying areas where they can help the student or students by listening and providing the resources required.

    Relationship Building with an Empathy Map:


    An empathy map may need to be created individually with the teacher for some students to focus on a specific need. It’s a way for students to see that the teacher cares about them and wants to help and support them. A relationship is formed by listening to the student and drawing the map with the child. The relationship grows as the teacher provides support and tries to find necessary resources, and a student may become more willing to open up and share thoughts and concerns with the teacher.


    Members can write their answers on a sticky note and place them in each quadrant if used in a group environment. Surveys based on each quadrant, classroom discussion, or even looking at student work and getting feedback are all examples of data collection in a group empathy map. The teacher can then look for commonalities among the students and outlier thoughts of students who may require extra attention, which will also help with classroom management. Students will be more likely to provide truthful answers if the map is posted and responses are kept strictly confidential.

    It’s important to remember that an empathy map is only helpful if applied strategically. When used correctly, the teacher can use the map to start a one-on-one or whole-group discussion. The map can help parents find the resources to help their children socially or academically. Most importantly, it allows the teacher and students to form bonds and see that others care about them.

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    Frequently Asked Questions:

    1. What information should be included in a map of empathy?


    • Define the scope and objectives.
    • Accumulate materials
    • Collect information
    • Make sticky notes for each quadrant separately.
    • Converge to form clusters and synthesize
    • Plan and polish

    2. What role do these empathy maps play in the teaching and learning process?

    Soln.: Our ability to share in their feelings and perspectives and understand their academic needs is directly related to our ability to empathize with students.

    In Education, an empathy map is a simple demonstration that captures knowledge about a student’s or group of students’ behaviors, attitudes, needs, strengths, struggles, emotional states, and other vital attributes. In my school coaching work, the empathy-mapping process is primarily used to help grade-level planning teams empathize with their students and develop more equitable and personally tailored lessons.

    3. Why is empathy mapping important?

    Soln.: An empathy map will assist you in better understanding your users’ needs as you gain a better understanding of the people you’re designing for. You can use a variety of techniques to help you develop empathy.

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