Blueprints for Caring: Naming the Inner Voice - Teaching Empathy Institute
Teaching Empathy Institute works to establish emotionally and physically safe learning communities for elementary, middle and high school students and the adults who work with them. Working in the Hudson Valley of New York, TEI creates tailor-made programs designed to foster dialogue about social culture building while strengthening the capacity for the infusion of empathy and compassion into all aspects of the learning experience.
Teaching Empathy Institute, SEL, Social and emotional learning, mindfulness, diversity, education, bullying, anti-bullying, k-12, learning, david levine, school of belonging
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Blueprints for Caring: Naming the Inner Voice


I like to begin this lesson with an explanation such as this: Have you ever left home and suddenly realized you’ve forgotten something such as your homework or lunch? Once you thought “Oh, I forgot that,” you were able to get whatever it was you forgot before you were too far from home. But who said, “Oh, I forgot that?” This was your inner voice. The inner voice talks to you with unexpected thoughts or physical feelings and sensations (saying for example, “this just doesn’t feel right”).

  • Pass out index cards and have students write down one situation in which their inner voice gave them a message.
  • Once the cards are completed, have the students mingle, holding their cards at chest level for others to see. They are to connect with as many people as possible, quietly reading what they’ve written before moving on to someone else.
  • When you signal, have partners sit down and talk about their direct experience with the inner voice.
  • After 15 minutes, run a class meeting in which the inner or intuitive voice is explored in more detail. Invite students to consider how people can learn better to trust their gut responses or hunches.

At this point, students will be curious about the phenomenon known as intuition. This leads to a lively conversation about how people often know what the right thing to do is. You can explain how the inner voice also tells you what others in your class need when they are struggling or having a tough day.