Teaching Empathy in the Classroom workshop enables participants to teach students to be able to learn the skills to understand themselves and others, show compassion towards others, collaborate effectively and practice kindness and acceptance.


Audience: Classroom teachers (grades 5 and above), Coordinators, and School leaders

Registration Link

While students go through school we hope they acquire the social and emotional skills to enable them to know how to handle conflict, contribute effectively to their society and be responsible global citizens. But how do we know if we have achieved this? We do not live in a vacuum and need to teach students how to exist in interdependent societies. To be able to do this, they need to learn the skills to understand themselves and others, show compassion towards others,  collaborate effectively and practice kindness and acceptance. This workshop will explore how to teach these skills using drama techniques and mindfulness exercises. Rooted in neuroscience, the mindfulness exercises will focus specifically, but not exclusively, on developing the amygdala (which processes our emotions and is essential for survival) and the insula (which helps us see things from someone else’s point of view and feel empathy or compassion). Drama puts students in imaginary circumstances, as if they were real, where they speak, feel and act in context. In real life, clocks do not go back, we often do not get a second chance. But through dramatic contexts, we can practice life and develop our skills for living.

What will the workshop entail?

This two-day workshop will take participants through practical exercises, rooted in Drama and Mindfulness techniques to see how to develop the following skills:


  • awareness of self & others

  • awareness of the environment 

  • engagement & attention

  • showing compassion

  • focus & concentration

  • collaboration

  • ways of communicating

  • actively listening

  • use of the senses

  • see from other perspectives

  • using imagination

  • understand emotions

  • ways of reflecting 

  • constructive feedback

  • cooperation

  • responsible decision-making

  • perseverance and flexibility

  • problem solving


Drama in Education can achieve the following:

  • Drama is concerned with human behaviour and relationships; therefore the social health of the group can improve.

  • Students’ use of language is extended as students are in situations where there is a genuine need to talk.

  • Help students to grasp concepts, solve problems and face issues.

  • Teachers can get to know their students better, as it asks the students to bring who they are and what they know.

  • See things from another perspective, and think beyond what they already know.

[O’Neill, Lambert, Linnell, Wood, Heinemann Educational Books, 1976]


How will the participants learn about teaching empathy?

During the practical process of learning, participants will work through the following stages:

  1. Developing empathy in ourselves (understanding our needs, wants and values)

  2. Implementing empathy when working with others (learning our roles and strengths)

  3. Develop a culture of collaboration and inclusion through shared experience

  4. Develop strategies to bring empathy into our work in the classroom

  5. Learn how to bring our work in the classroom into a global context

  6. Reflect on our process and then create individualised programmes for our students

The workshop will be structured so that skills are initially developed through received knowledge. Using a range of reflective strategies, participants will have the chance to have their own insights and recognise ‘a-ha’ moments before they use critical thinking to embody their understanding of the processes in their own class planning.


Why is this workshop important?

There are many teachers who aspire to teach life skills, explore issues, look at conflict resolution and develop social and personal skills through practical work, but do not know a way in. This workshop will walk participants through the practical process of learning, that they can take back and use in their classes. The goal is to equip students with the skills where they feel empowered to bring about positive change in their community or in a global context. Through the integration of drama, students can explore conflict, experience real life situations in a safe context. The Arts are different from other subjects because they require the student to be actively engaged with the work from a human perspective, where they learn about themselves. They are required to be creative, take risks, persevere, experiment, observe, be patient, self-disciplined and confident with who they are, what they say and what they do. The Arts focus on what it means to be human and develop life skills that are transferable to the world beyond school and into the workplace.

Session Leader


Fenella Kelly B.Ed. (Hons) MA (Distinction)

Fenella is an experienced Drama teacher, teacher trainer and student workshop leader. She graduated with a combined degree in Drama and Education from Cambridge University, and initially trained as a middle school teacher. While she was in Cambridge she was part of New Moves contemporary dance company and her first job after graduation was at her old college teaching undergraduates TIE (Theatre in Education). Wanting to see the world, she then trained as a TESOL teacher (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and headed off to Crete to co-run a language school. In Istanbul she taught English and set up Drama in education programmes in many schools while simultaneously co-running a theatre company that produced large shows and toured with ELT (English Language Teaching) plays. For this company (Speech Bubbles) she worked as a choreographer, dancer, actress and director. While in Istanbul she also taught and performed Latin American dances (salsa, merengue and tango) to adults.


From Istanbul she headed to Sao Paulo, Brazil to be the Head of Performing Arts in an International School (Graded: The American School of Sao Paulo) and teach Theatre and Dance to high school students. While in Brazil she was part of a physical theatre company called Oficina dos Menestreis and a dancer in Caleidos Laban contemporary dance company. From there she flew to India for her first Kathakali lesson, back in 2004. She has been studying, teaching and performing Kathakali ever since.


After 4 years working as Head of Theatre and MS/HS Drama teacher at Cairo American College (and of course learning to belly dance while she was there), she went to England to do an MA in Drama and Theatre in Education. After 6 months working at Theatre Director in Portugal at St Julian’s School, she moved to the American School of Bombay (ASB) where she was HS Drama teacher and Head of Theatre for 4 years. While in Mumbai, she worked with Sumeet Nagdev’s contemporary dance company as a dancer, workshop leader and artistic mentor. She also directed and choreographed many productions that were performed at NCPA, St. Andrew’s theatre and at ASB.


Most recently she was a teacher and head of Theatre at Hong Kong Academy, Hong Kong. Now Fenella is a freelance artist, teacher trainer, examiner, yoga teacher and theatre director based in the UK.

Cancellation Policy: All registrations are final and non-refundable. Registration is, however, transferrable. If you cannot make it to the event, please find a colleague to attend in your place.