Teaching with Empathy: How to Transform Your Practice by Understanding Your Learners

What does it mean to teach with empathy?

Whether it's planning and delivering instruction or just interacting with others throughout the day, every action you take is an opportunity to demonstrate empathy toward your students, your colleagues, and yourself.

"I'm already empathetic to my students and their stories," you may be thinking. But a teacher's actions, even unintentional and especially uninformed, can be implicitly shaming, compounding any disconnect students may already feel and undermining your efforts to create a safe and positive classroom environment. Rather than try to identify who needs empathy, start with the premise that all learners deserve empathy because it is a prerequisite for learning and growth.

During this five-week online book study, administrators and educators will meet once per week from the comfort of their living rooms or home offices to learn what it means to teach with empathy. Each meeting will either be via Zoom or online platform discussion.

All participants will receive a two-month trial for ASCD Activate, a copy of “Teaching with Empathy: How to Transform Your Practice by Understanding Your Learners,” participate in group discussions, and share their thoughts and reflections on each section of the book as we grow our practice in teaching with empathy.

Book Study Takeaways
Through this book study we will focus on exploring the three types of empathy; and how each intertwine with curriculum, learning environment, equity practices, instruction and assessment, and grading and reporting.

  • You will gain tips and tools, real-world classroom examples, powerful stories for teaching and practicing empathy
  • You will learn what's possible when you let compassion and acceptance inform all aspects of your daily practice  

Who Should Attend
This opportunity is recommended for and open to all educators and administrator leaders. Please share!


Sessions will be held 3:45–4:45 p.m. PST via Zoom or the ASCD Community Platform on the following dates:

Jan 31 via Zoom | Lisa Westman, Mannu Sikka and Carrie Lam
Prior to this session read Chapter 1: The Empathy Crisis

Feb 7 via ASCD Community Platform | Mannu Sikka and Carrie Lam
Prior to this session read Chapter 2: The Intersection of Empathy + Curriculum and Chapter 3: The Empathetic Learning Environment

Feb 15 via Zoom | Mannu Sikka and Carrie Lam
Prior to this session read Chapter 4: Empathy + Equity and Chapter 5: Empathetic Instruction and Assessment Strategies

Feb 21 via ASCD Community Platform | Mannu Sikka and Carrie Lam
Prior to this session read Chapter 6: Empathetic Grading + Reporting Practices and Chapter 7: Where Do You Go From Here? Actionable Steps to Become a More Empathetic Educator

Feb 28 via Zoom | Lisa Westman, Mannu Sikka and Carrie Lam
Come prepared to share reflections/celebrations in breakouts and Q&A with Lisa Westman


Lisa Westman
Author, Speaker, Consultant

Lisa Westman is an author, speaker, and consultant who works regularly with school systems across the country to effectively implement student-driven differentiation, standards-based learning, and instructional coaching programs. Her presentations are designed to "keep it real," focusing on specific models and strategies that all educators can implement—and, more importantly, want to implement.

Lisa is passionate about teaching and learning, and she is dedicated to effecting change that positively affects both students and educators. Her recent publications include Student-Driven Differentiation: 8 Steps to Harmonize Learning in the Classroom (Corwin Press, 2018) and Teaching with Empathy: How to Transform Your Practice by Understanding Your Learners (ASCD, August 2021).

Carrie Lam
Executive Coordinator, Washington State ASCD

Carrie Lam  is the executive coordinator for Washington State ASCD and currently serves as a substitute teacher. She has taught first grade and K–5 special education.

Carrie holds an elementary teaching certificate and an endorsement in special education in Washington State. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Masters of Education from the University of Washington.

Mannu Sika
Strategic Advisor, Consortium for Educational Change

Mannu Sika is a Strategic Advisor for the Consortium for Educational Change. She is an experienced educational professional with a demonstrated history in both instructional and leadership roles. She has taught 4th and 5th grade and served as an academic interventionist for grades K–8. Mannu has also served as an EL coordinator and an instructional coach. Her areas of strength include instructional coaching, educational technology, schoolwide instructional planning, student data-analysis, and small group intervention planning, Mannu is a Google Certified Educator Level 1 & 2 and is an ASCD Emerging Leader.

Mannu holds her elementary teaching certificate and K–9 ESL endorsement in Illinois and California.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Women’s Studies from DePaul University, a Masters of Arts degree in Education from UC Davis, and holds an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership with principal endorsement from National Louis University.

$94.99 per individual or $295 group registration (four registrants—three paid and one complimentary).

Click here to complete the Individual registration.
Click here to complete the Group registration.

This professional learning may be eligible for Title I, Title II, Title IV, and CARES/CRRSA/ARP Act Funds. Please contact your program director for more information.

A one-year membership to WSASCD is included with registration for non-members. Note to current members: registration does not extend your membership.

You will receive two Zoom confirmations join the sessions being hosted via Zoom shortly after your registration is processed. The confirmations contain your personal link to join the sessions. Follow the link in your confirmations to add the meetings to your calendar. Note: Only one device is admitted per email so please do not share your link. 

ASCD Community Platform
The February 7 and February 21 sessions will be hosted via ASCD’s Community Platform. Instructions for accessing the ASCD Community Platform will be delivered via email prior to the session dates. 

This session will be recorded, and paid registrants will be provided personal access (not shareable) to the recording post-event. The recording can be accessed for three months following the session. Still wish to cancel? An administrative fee ($30 individual/$65 group) applies to cancellations. No Show = No Refund.

Clock Hours
3.0 WA State Approved clock hours are available for participation for live online participation. Attendance will be verified.

All registrants will receive a copy of “Teaching with Empathy: How to Transform Your Practice by Understanding Your Learners.” Your copy will be mailed to the address provided in your registration (via a separate Google doc link).

If you registered prior to December 31, and have not received your book by January 7, please contact Lisa Gehman at lgehman@wasa-oly.org.
If you register after January 7, your book may not arrive prior to the first session but you will receive access to the first chapter.

ASCD Activate's online solutions can help your district provide professional development that is sustained, intensive, job-embedded, collaborative, and classroom-focused. During your trial you will have access to a walkthrough / Q&A session (recorded), video tutorials, and email support. Activate is ASCD's online repository of research-based PD resources, allowing professional learning to be differentiated to every educator. As a book study participant, you will have access to a free trial account with curated channels that align with and extend the work in Teaching with Empathy.

Learn more about Activate.

Contact Lisa Gehman at 360.943.5717 or wsascd@wasa-oly.org with registration questions or for registration assistance.

Contact Carrie Lam at carrielamascd@gmail.com  with event questions and for Zoom assistance the day of the session.

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