Increasing Empathy and Awareness in Educator Preparation Utilizing Social-Emotional Literacy Experiences with Children in Crisis Situations


  • Stefanie Reed Sorbet University of Central Arkansas
  • Lesley Graybeal University of Central Arkansas


Service-learning provides college students with authentic pre-professional experiences while engaging within the community.  Service-learning projects that are embedded within educator’s preparation courses raises awareness in preservice teachers while also better preparing them to manage classroom behavior within their future K-6 classrooms.  

This qualitative study focuses on preservice teachers’ reflections of their own experiences during a service-learning project aimed at increasing early social-emotional, literacy experiences among children in crisis situations.  This service-learning project was created in connection with the objectives of the course to expose preservice teachers to a variety of causes of challenging behavior in young children in an effort to increase awareness and understanding of various behaviors and situations that may arise in the elementary classroom.  Understanding the causes of misbehavior in young children can assist preservice teachers in discovering methods to assist with these behaviors in the classroom.

The goal of the project was to examine reflections of preservice teachers’ interactions with children at a local homeless shelter daycare center and to determine if this experience increased their level of understanding, empathy, and openness as compared to their previous assumptions and level of understanding of children in crisis situations.  This project provides experience to the preservice teacher with children in crisis situations that may exhibit challenging behavior and gives the preservice teacher authentic practice in how to deliver literacy instruction to children with diverse needs.




Author Biographies

Stefanie Reed Sorbet, University of Central Arkansas

Stefanie R. Sorbet, Ed. D., is an original native of Louisiana and currently an assistant professor at the University of Central Arkansas in the Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education Department.  She currently instructs elementary education teacher candidates in positive classroom environment as well as supervises interns in field placements.

Lesley Graybeal, University of Central Arkansas

Lesley Graybeal is the Director of Service-Learning at the University of Central Arkansas. Her research interests include intersectional service-learning impacts, community partnership development, community partner perspectives, and community-based qualitative inquiry.