“Well That's How the Kids Feel!”—Epistemic Empathy as a Driver of Responsive Teaching

While research shows that responsive teaching fosters students' disciplinary learning and equitable opportunities for participation, there is yet much to know about how teachers come to be responsive to their students' experiences in the science classroom. In this work, we set out to examine whether and how engaging teachers as learners in doing science may support responsive instructional practices. We draw on data from a year-long blended-online science professional development (PD) program that began with an emphasis on teachers' doing science and progressed to supporting their attention to their students' doing science. By analyzing videos from teachers' classrooms collected throughout the PD, we found that teachers became more stable in attending and responding to their students' thinking. In this article, we present evidence from teachers' reflections that this stability was supported by the teachers' intellectual and emotional experiences as learners. Specifically, we argue that engaging in extended scientific inquiry provided a basis for the teachers having epistemic empathy for their students—their tuning into and appreciating their students' intellectual and emotional experiences in science, which in turn supported teachers' responsiveness in the classroom.

Jaber, L. Z., Dini, V., and Hammer, D. (2021). “Well that's how the kids feel!”—Epistemic empathy as a driver of responsive teaching. Journal of Research in Science Teaching.