Walking in someone else’s shoes

45 minutes
Learning Outcomes

This activities will help participants to understand empathy, to practice ways to be more understanding and to reflect on the effects of empathetic listening.

Resources & Preparation Needed

‘Are you emphatetic?’ Worksheet (one copy for each student)

‘Someone else’s shoes’ Worksheet (one sheet for 6 students, cute up into  pieces)


When we put ourselves in another person’s shoes, we are often more sensitive to what that person is experiencing and are less likely to tease or bully them and we can create a more accepting and respectful community.

Divide the class in groups of 4-5 students and ask them to think of a time—maybe during an argument with a friend or when the boy or girl they liked hurt their feelings—when they wished that someone understood how they felt. 

Distribute the ‘Are You Empathetic?’ worksheet ask students to answer individually “yes” if it describes something they do or “no” if they don’t do what is described.

If they answered mostly “yes,” they probably do a good job of showing empathy toward other people. The statements they answered “no” to are things they could do to be more empathetic.

As a class, use ‘Are You Empathetic?’ worksheet to discuss how they can follow the behaviours suggested to show empathy toward others:

  • Ask yourself, “How would I feel in this situation?”
  • When you listen to others, make eye contact and do not interrupt the speaker.
  • Try to be an “active listener” and show that you’re making a genuine effort to understand what they’re going through: paraphrase their words, repeat , summarise their words, ask clarification and follow-up questions!
  • To be more attuned to other people’s feelings pay attention to how many “you” questions do you ask compared to the number of “I” statements you make.

Students will practice what they’ve learned about being empathetic. Give one character card from ‘Someone Else’s Shoes’ worksheet to each student. They are going to complete the rest of the activity as if they were the  character described on their card, so let them take some time to think about how he or she feels in the given situation.

Pair work: Pair them up with a classmate (be sure that the partners do not have identical character cards). Taking turns, each student should tell his/her partner about the situation described on their card (using 1st person – “I”). Students should practice being empathetic as they are listening to their partner’s story.

Group discussion: Discuss how they showed empathy toward each other during the pair work exercise, how it made them feel and what they wish they/ their partners had done differently.

Ideas For Reflection

Everyone in the class should now stand. Students go around the room, sharing something they learned about practicing empathy, sitting after they share. If someone else shares the other person’s thought, both of them sit down. They mingle and discuss until everyone is sitting.

Extra Material

Some more ways to cultivate empathy in the classroom: https://blog.ed.ted.com/2018/01/15/4-ways-to-get-your-students-to-be-more-empathetic/