Cognitive empathy.  I believe it 's the most valuable asset a teacher can possess to truly connect with her students. The reason I landed my first teaching job was because I could answer the question, "What is cognitive empathy?" Twenty years later I vividly remember the six teacher panel looking at me as the wheels were turning in my head.  "Cognitive is thinking. Empathy is relating to ones emotions." I confidently responded, " Putting yourself in the students' shoes.  Understanding what they are thinking so you can teach to their strengths and understanding." They paused, looked at each other and said, "You were our first candidate to answer that question."  I didn't realize at that time how important and meaningful that question was for me. Unknowingly, upon reflection, I have practiced it everyday of my teaching career. It does not come easily, I must be mindful and practice it every day.  

When I plan a lesson or activity, there are many factors to consider beyond the content and curriculum. I think of the high expectations I want my students to attain, but I also think of the learning styles and difficulties that sit before me daily.  
I design reading, writing, and content assignments that are user friendly and can easily be broken into smaller chunks of information to be accessible. I think of  engaging and motivating questions so students will connect and find relevant meaning to the information. I come up with mnemonic devices to help learn information.  I sit next to students. I talk to them and observe them so I can best understand them. Everyday I put myself in the shoes of 23 different students and think what approach would help them understand and succeed.

The brain is the most fascinating organ.  I love trying to figure out the puzzle of each child's unique brain.  It's always changing, challenging, but also rewarding to see a student succeed.  Because isn't that really what all kids want?

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