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Empathy Vs Sympathy: Understanding the Contrast



Empathy Vs Sympathy

In the course of a teaching profession, instances may arise when an educator experiences sympathy for a student. Nonetheless, a compassionate teacher consistently demonstrates empathy towards students in their daily interactions.

It is crucial to discern the distinction between these emotions and recognize the significance of empathy as a fundamental trait in fostering the holistic development of the student.

What is Empathy?

Empathy, encapsulated by the proverbial notion of “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes,” denotes the capacity to comprehend the emotions and experiences of another individual.

However, it extends beyond mere understanding, encompassing the ability to share in the emotional impact a situation has on someone else. It involves a profound grasp of their experiences, challenges, and even their cognitive processes.

What is Sympathy?

In simple terms, sympathy involves experiencing a sense of sorrow or compassion for someone else. Commonly linked to situations such as the loss of a loved one or a terminal diagnosis, sympathy can also manifest as pity for another person’s misfortune. For example, when a neighbor’s house has burned down, one might feel sympathy towards their unfortunate loss.

What is the Difference?

The common suffix “-pathy” in both “empathy” and “sympathy” finds its roots in the Greek word “pathos,” meaning to suffer. Despite their similarities, these emotions differ significantly.

Sympathy is characterized by a more evaluative response, where the individual expressing sympathy may not fully connect with or comprehend the profound impact of another person’s loss. On the other hand, empathy involves a deeper and more personal connection to the feelings of someone else, drawing on one’s own experiences.

In the context of recent events, educators have heightened their empathy, particularly in addressing the challenges faced by students amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While a teacher may display sympathy towards a student mourning the loss of a loved one to the virus, the teacher might demonstrate empathy by understanding and accommodating the needs of a student whose parent lost their job due to prolonged quarantining, such as providing additional time for computer-based assignments at school.

Why are these Essential for Students to Have?

The cultivation of sympathy and empathy in students is deemed essential through character-building activities, guided by the principle, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” In instilling these qualities, modeling plays a pivotal role. When teachers exhibit sympathetic responses to instances of loss within the learning environment, students are likely to emulate similar reactions.

Teaching empathy requires educators to engage in transparent thought processes, verbalizing their considerations when responding compassionately to individuals grappling with new challenges or stressors. By modeling such behavior, students are encouraged to contemplate the impact of their words or actions on others, fostering a mindset that prioritizes understanding and consideration.

Activities that Promote Empathy and Sympathy

Fostering empathy and sympathy skills through social-emotional learning is a gradual process requiring consistent practice by students. These skills are best developed through regular application rather than isolated instruction. Teachers, while observing student interactions, can identify opportunities to reinforce and emphasize these skills based on emerging needs.

Numerous classroom activities prove effective in promoting the cultivation of empathy and sympathy:

1. Videos that Teach Emotional Skills

An array of concise videos cater to younger students, offering suitable content for imparting lessons on empathy. Some directly address the subject, such as All About Empathy and What is Empathy, while others feature characters exemplifying empathetic behaviors.

These videos enable teachers to pause, initiate discussions, and present role modeling opportunities through trusted characters. Additionally, resources like TED Talks and coaching videos are available for students ranging from elementary to high school levels.

2. Model Empathy and Sympathy

A highly effective approach to impart emotional responses is through exemplary behavior. Acting as a positive role model, a teacher can significantly influence students’ understanding of appropriate reactions.

For instance, when students witness a teacher expressing concern and inquiring about another student’s well-being upon their return from a family member’s funeral, they glean insights into responding appropriately in similar situations.

Similarly, when a teacher openly shares their emotions about an impactful event, such as an illness, and invites students to reflect on similar experiences, a culture of understanding and connection to others’ feelings is cultivated.

3. Discussions about Emotions

Devoting a brief period each day, a teacher can initiate discussions focusing on various scenarios and the accompanying emotions. Implementing turn-and-talk activities, where partners share their feelings or anticipated reactions to specific positive or negative events, serves as an effective approach.

Examples may include discussions about a lost pet, winning a race, the need for comfort when no one is around, receiving unexpected gifts from grandparents, or being notified about a backward shirt at the end of the day. To enhance engagement, encourage children to visually express the identified emotions by creating facial expressions corresponding to each scenario.

4. Make it a Guessing Game

Teachers can further facilitate students’ understanding of others’ emotions by incorporating a guessing game centered around reading body language. In this engaging activity, the teacher presents an image of an individual making a specific facial expression or exhibiting body language indicative of an emotion. Students are then prompted to identify the associated feelings.

To expand the exercise, students can generate ideas elucidating why the person might be experiencing that particular emotion. This interactive approach not only enhances the ability to interpret body language but also encourages students to connect their own experiences with the portrayed situations.

5. Listening Skills

Instilling the art of effective listening in children, especially when expressing their emotions, can pose a challenge given their inclination to interrupt and share their own feelings. However, this skill can indeed be taught.

A teacher can read a passage from a story and engage students with questions such as:

  • How is the character feeling?
  • How can you discern the character’s emotions, whether upset, excited, etc.?
  • What circumstances led to the character feeling upset, excited, etc.?

Extending the activity, teachers can further inquire:

  • What actions would you take to comfort the character if you were part of the story?
  • Have you personally experienced similar emotions, and if so, what triggered those feelings?

Teaching children to sympathize and empathize contributes to fostering a culture of respect. It is crucial for students to grasp another’s perspective during challenging situations. Importantly, children should understand that they don’t necessarily have to solve someone else’s problem to express empathy. Through both modeling and direct instruction, students learn to provide and receive appropriate responses in various situations encountered by others.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the fundamental difference between empathy and sympathy?

Empathy and sympathy both involve understanding others’ feelings, but empathy goes further by enabling individuals to share and feel those emotions, whereas sympathy entails acknowledging and feeling sorrow for someone’s situation without necessarily sharing the emotions.

How can empathy and sympathy be distinguished in everyday interactions?

Empathy involves a deeper emotional connection, often drawing from personal experiences, while sympathy is more evaluative, acknowledging and expressing compassion for another’s situation without necessarily sharing the emotional experience.

Why are empathy and sympathy essential in personal and professional settings?

These qualities enhance interpersonal relationships, contribute to effective communication, and promote a supportive and understanding environment. In professional settings, they are crucial for teamwork, leadership, and overall workplace harmony.

How do teachers play a role in fostering empathy and sympathy in students?

Teachers serve as role models by demonstrating empathetic and sympathetic behaviors. Classroom activities, discussions, and storytelling are employed to provide students with opportunities to understand, share, and respond to others’ emotions.

Is there a potential downside to excessive sympathy or empathy?

While empathy and sympathy are generally positive traits, excessive emotional involvement can lead to burnout or emotional exhaustion, especially in professions requiring constant emotional support. Striking a balance is essential.

How can individuals enhance their empathy and sympathy skills?

Continuous practice, self-reflection, and exposure to diverse perspectives contribute to improving empathy and sympathy. Actively seeking to understand others’ experiences and being open to different emotions are key components of skill enhancement.


Understanding the contrast between empathy and sympathy is crucial for fostering meaningful connections and cultivating a supportive environment. While both involve recognizing and responding to others’ emotions, empathy goes beyond acknowledgment, allowing individuals to share and deeply feel those emotions.

Sympathy, on the other hand, entails expressing sorrow for someone’s situation without necessarily sharing in the emotional experience.

Teachers play a pivotal role in instilling these emotional skills in students, serving as role models and creating opportunities for discussions, activities, and reflections. By emphasizing empathy and sympathy, educators contribute to the development of well-rounded individuals capable of navigating diverse social scenarios.

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Teacher Resources

Maximizing the Benefits of Virtual Office Hours



Maximizing the Benefits of Virtual Office Hours

Educators worldwide face unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, striving to deliver quality education through unconventional methods. Although this shift feels unnatural, it has become our new regular.

Our responsibility to students and the community is more significant than ever, requiring innovative practices and procedures to provide essential support. Virtual office hours enable stakeholders to ask questions, gain clarity, and build relationships, ensuring continued connection and engagement.

The benefit of Virtual Office Hours

Virtual office hours offer numerous advantages. Once your platform and availability are set, students can connect with you more quickly than through email, which often involves waiting for a response. Immediate support is crucial as students and families work on assignments and other requirements.

Face-to-face interaction is a significant benefit of virtual office hours, especially for those lacking human contact with their class. Real-time video allows students to see your expressions and hear your voice, fostering stronger relationships. These interactions are essential, as positive teacher-student relationships are central to effective teaching and learning, regardless of the student’s age or grade.

Additionally, virtual office hours allow one to check in with students personally. Not every meeting needs to be academic. It’s essential to recognize the varied environments in which students are learning.

Some have quiet spaces with desks and supplies, while others face challenges like noisy environments, inadequate meals, and insufficient support for assignments and technical issues. Using office hours to understand these personal situations can give you insight into their performance and challenges, enabling you to provide better support.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Office Hours

Communicate the purpose and activities of your office hours. Create an eye-catching flyer detailing your offerings to help students, especially younger ones, understand how office hours work.

Provide specific examples, such as reviewing an assessment, discussing a challenging word problem, or expanding on a recently taught theme or skill. This clarity will also help parents schedule time for what matters most to them.

Include time for informal chats without a specific agenda. Hosting a virtual lunch where students bring their lunch for a casual chat can be a tremendous relationship-building activity. Allowing students to drive the conversation fosters connection and supports their social-emotional health, which is crucial during these times. Informal interactions provide valuable insights into students’ well-being, helping you better support them beyond formal class meetings.

To make office hours more appealing, rebrand them by allowing open chat sessions after review or small group sessions. Students can engage with friends as they would in person, with you monitoring but not interjecting unless asked. This social interaction is crucial for students’ well-being and encourages them to participate.

Include your office hours flyer in newsletters or weekly communications detailing new topics and highlighting the benefits of attending. Remind students during each class about office hours and invite a student to share a success story, illustrating how these sessions have helped them.

Student voice and choice are vital. Ask students what activities they would like to engage in during office hours. Their feedback will help you tailor the sessions to their interests and needs, boosting attendance and participation.

Regardless of how you structure your virtual office hours, remember that your students need your support more than ever. Your hard work is deeply appreciated and does not go unnoticed. Be encouraged to know the positive impact you are making.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are virtual office hours, and why are they important?

Virtual office hours are designated times when teachers can interact with students online. They allow face-to-face interaction in a remote setting and provide immediate support, foster relationships, and enhance the learning experience.

How should I communicate the purpose of my office hours to students and parents?

Advertise the purpose and activities of your office hours using an eye-catching flyer. Include specific examples such as reviewing assessments, discussing challenging topics, or expanding on recent lessons. Regularly include this flyer in newsletters or weekly communications and remind students during class.

How can I make office hours more engaging for students?

Rebrand certain office hours to include open chat sessions where students can interact socially after academic discussions. Host informal activities like virtual lunches, allowing students to drive the conversation. Solicit feedback from students to tailor the sessions to their interests and needs.

How can I ensure high attendance and participation in my office hours?

Highlight the benefits of attending office hours, share student success stories, and include office hour details in all communications. Tailor activities based on student feedback to make the sessions more relevant and engaging.

What if my students need more social interaction?

Incorporate open chat sessions and informal activities into your office hours. These opportunities for social interaction are crucial for students’ well-being and help build a sense of community.

How can I balance academic support and personal check-ins during office hours?

Schedule specific times for academic support and personal check-ins. Recognize the diverse environments students are in and use office hours to better understand their personal situations and provide tailored support.

What tools and platforms work best for virtual office hours?

Use reliable and user-friendly platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. Ensure that students and parents are familiar with the chosen platform and provide clear instructions on how to join sessions.


Virtual office hours are a powerful tool for enhancing student support and engagement in a remote learning environment. You can maximize their benefits by clearly communicating their purpose, incorporating social interaction, and tailoring activities to student needs. Regularly promote these sessions, gather student feedback, and adapt accordingly to ensure high attendance and participation.

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Teacher Resources

Maximizing Efficiency with Canva: Work Smarter, Not Harder



Maximizing Efficiency with Canva: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Teaching requires balancing numerous tasks, such as creating lesson plans and grading papers. This ongoing juggling act can seem endless, making it crucial to find ways to improve efficiency.

Canva, a free tool, simplifies daily tasks so you can work smarter. Utilizing Canvas resources can streamline your workflow and lighten your load. Here are a few ways Canva can help create a more productive and creative classroom.

Streamlines Lesson Plans

Canva significantly boosts the efficiency and quality of your teaching materials. Its extensive library of templates lets you create engaging visual aids like infographics and diagrams, and customizable worksheet templates save time while ensuring resources are tailored to your curriculum. Canva also provides structured templates for lesson and unit plans, helping you organize objectives, materials, activities, and assessments in one place.

You can also design engaging learning stations and formative assessments such as exit tickets, making differentiated instruction and evaluations seamless. Incorporating Canva into your planning process enables you to produce professional-quality materials quickly, reducing stress and enhancing student engagement.

Enhances Classroom Management

Canva is a game-changer that enhances classroom management. Its digital planner templates help reduce the stress of juggling multiple tasks by keeping track of assignments, meetings, and important dates.

Customizable behavior charts make monitoring and rewarding student behavior easy. They encourage positive actions through visual and interactive tools. For instance, you can create a chart that tracks homework completion, motivating students to meet classroom expectations. Using these resources helps create a structured and efficient classroom environment.

Captivates Student Interest

Canva makes fostering student engagement effortless with its user-friendly interface and customizable resources. Interactive presentation templates captivate students’ attention, transforming lessons into visually appealing experiences with videos, animations, and quizzes that keep students actively involved.

Collaborative tools facilitate group work, allowing students to collaborate seamlessly, regardless of location. For less tech-savvy students, Canvas’s intuitive design tools enhance learning by enabling them to express their creativity and produce high-quality work, making the learning process more enjoyable.

Simplifies Communication

Canva simplifies communication by keeping everyone in the loop. Newsletters and announcement templates help inform parents and guardians about important dates, classroom activities, student achievements, and upcoming events.

Social media templates maintain an eye-catching online presence, allowing you to share classroom achievements, motivational quotes, and educational content. This would help you strengthen your connection with your school and community.

Bo by maintaining active communication with engaging visualsosts Professional Development

Canva effectively supports professional development with tools to enhance any professional portfolio or resource. Its design tools simplify creating elegant, skilled resources for growth activities, teacher and student portfolios, or showcasing lesson plans and student projects. For presentations, you can design high-quality handouts and visuals that leave a lasting impression.

Additionally, Canvas customizable templates for certificates of completion and workshop materials ensure your presentations and training sessions are professional and engaging. Utilizing Canva’s extensive resources makes professional development more dynamic and productive.

Empowers Remote Learning

Remote learning has become a significant part of modern teaching, and Canva is a valuable tool for creating engaging virtual classrooms. Custom backgrounds can correlate with the lesson topic, and interactive digital worksheets allow students to drag and drop elements or click links for additional information.

Canva also enables you to create banners, motivational posters, and welcome signs to make your digital space feel welcoming and vibrant. Using Canvas tools, you can ensure your remote lessons are as engaging as in-person ones.

Enhances Classroom Décor and Motivation

Enhancing classroom décor and motivation is easy with Canva. Create motivational posters, classroom rules, and banners using templates tailored to your decor, which can be printed and displayed. Involve students in designing posters or project presentations to enhance the classroom’s vibrancy and foster their sense of ownership and creativity. These materials can be printed or displayed digitally, making it simple to update the classroom environment regularly.

Incorporating Canva into your teaching toolkit simplifies daily tasks, from lesson planning and classroom management to student engagement and professional development. With Canvas free resources, you can create visually appealing materials that boost learning and communication, saving valuable time and energy. Explore Canva and discover how it can help you work smarter, not harder.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Canva, and how can it help educators?

Canva is a free online design tool that helps educators create professional-quality teaching materials quickly and easily. Its extensive library of templates and design tools allows teachers to streamline tasks such as lesson planning, classroom management, and student engagement, ultimately saving time and enhancing productivity.

How can Canva improve my lesson planning process?

Canva offers structured templates for lesson and unit plans, enabling you to organize your objectives, materials, activities, and assessments in one place. Additionally, Canvas customizable worksheet templates and visual aids, such as infographics and diagrams, help you create engaging and tailored resources efficiently.

Can Canva help with classroom management?

Yes, Canvas digital planner templates help you keep track of assignments, meetings, and important dates. Customizable behavior charts can monitor and reward student behavior, fostering a structured and positive classroom environment.

How does Canva enhance student engagement?

Canva’s interactive presentation templates, complete with videos, animations, and quizzes, capture students’ attention and keep them actively involved. Its collaborative tools facilitate group work, allowing students to work together seamlessly, in-person or remotely.

What are some ways Canva supports professional development?

Canva supports professional development by offering tools to create elegant and skilled resources, such as teacher and student portfolios, lesson plans, and project showcases. It also provides customizable templates for certificates of completion and workshop materials, ensuring your presentations and training sessions are professional and engaging.

How can Canva be utilized for remote learning?

Canva helps create engaging virtual classrooms by allowing you to design custom backgrounds, interactive digital worksheets, and visual aids. You can also create digital banners, motivational posters, and welcome signs to make your online learning environment feel welcoming and vibrant.

Can Canva help with classroom décor and motivation?

Absolutely. Canva enables you to create motivational posters, classroom rules, and banners that align with your classroom decor. Involving students in designing these materials can enhance the classroom’s vibrancy and foster their sense of ownership and creativity.


Maximizing efficiency with Canva allows educators to work smarter, not harder. By leveraging Canva’s extensive library of templates and design tools, you can streamline lesson planning, classroom management, and student engagement. Canva enhances your ability to quickly create professional-quality teaching materials, supports professional development, and brings vibrancy to physical and virtual classrooms.

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Teacher Resources

The Significance of Teacher Appreciation Day



The Significance of Teacher Appreciation Day

Teacher Appreciation Day is a heartfelt tribute to the dedicated educators who shape the minds of future generations. Celebrated annually, this particular day acknowledges teachers’ tireless efforts, unwavering commitment, and profound impact on their students and society.

It allows students, parents, and communities to express gratitude and recognize educators’ crucial role in fostering learning, growth, and development. Beyond mere recognition, Teacher Appreciation Day underscores the importance of supporting and valuing the teaching profession, highlighting teachers’ essential contributions in nurturing a knowledgeable, compassionate, and empowered populace.

What and When is Teacher Appreciation Day?

Teacher Appreciation Day is a dedicated time to honor and celebrate educators’ vital contributions. The concept of a national day to recognize teachers began in the 1940s, gaining significant momentum in 1953 when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt advocated for its establishment in Congress.

Despite these early efforts, it wasn’t until 1980 that Congress officially recognized the first Teacher Appreciation Day. Initially observed on March 7th, the date was later changed in 1985 when the National Education Association (NEA) designated the first Tuesday in May National Teacher Appreciation Day.

In 2021, Teacher Appreciation Day will be celebrated on Tuesday, May 4th. Additionally, the entire week is observed as Teacher Appreciation Week, offering an extended period for students, parents, and communities to express gratitude. The NEA describes this as a day for honoring teachers and recognizing their lasting contributions to our lives,” underscoring teachers’ profound and enduring impact on individuals and society.

Why is it Important to Recognize Teachers?

Recognizing teachers is crucial, especially considering their significant yet often underappreciated role in shaping our society. In some countries, the teaching profession holds a status comparable to that of doctors or lawyers, reflecting its essential contribution to societal development.

However, in the United States, teachers often feel overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated despite their immense dedication to educating our children.

Criticisms and misconceptions, such as the notion that teachers have an easy job because they “get summers off,” overlook educators’ profound impact on their students’ lives. Teachers frequently spend more time with their students than their parents, highlighting their role’s importance.

Teaching is more than a job; it is a calling driven by a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children. Many teachers enter the profession inspired by their educators, motivated by the intrinsic reward of influencing young minds rather than financial gain.

The need to recognize teachers’ hard work has become even more pronounced during the recent pandemic. Teachers have shown remarkable flexibility and resilience, transitioning between in-person, remote, and hybrid learning environments. They have adapted to new technologies and innovative methods to engage students, often behind a computer screen, while striving to maintain a sense of normalcy in education.

Given these challenges and the unwavering dedication of teachers, it is vital to honor and appreciate their efforts. Recognizing teachers not only validates their hard work but also emphasizes their profound and lasting impact on their students and, by extension, on society as a whole.

How to Show Your Teachers Appreciation

As a building principal, I know there are numerous meaningful ways to recognize and appreciate teachers’ dedication. Drawing from my experience as a former principal, I’ve found various approaches to expressing gratitude that genuinely resonate with educators.

One memorable way to show appreciation is by organizing special events. For instance, I once used the district’s barbecue grills to prepare a freshly grilled lunch for the staff. The weather cooperated, allowing teachers to enjoy an outdoor picnic during their lunch period, creating a delightful and relaxing break in their day.

Another year, I purchased a picture book for each teacher and wrote a personal message on the cover. This book became a cherished resource for reading aloud to students at the start of the school year.

Perhaps the most impactful appreciation event was a weeklong game where teachers earned points for performing positive acts for their colleagues. Teachers recorded themselves engaging in these acts, adding a fun and interactive element. At the end of the week, points could be exchanged for exciting prizes like wearing jeans for a day, class coverage, or car washes. The teacher with the most points won a special lunch provided by the principal. This activity recognized individual efforts and fostered a strong sense of community among the staff.

Traditional appreciation methods may not be feasible due to COVID-19 restrictions, and some staff members are still teaching remotetion methods. However, technology offers new avenues to show gratitude. For example, principals can use Google Forms to collect positive comments about teachers. These comments can be framed and presented to the teachers, adding a personal touch. Another idea is to gift teachers a T-shirt with a catchy slogan that captures the essence of the 2020-21 school year.

Whatever the method, the key is sincerity. Ensuring appreciation efforts come from the heart makes Teacher Appreciation Day an extraordinary occasion, celebrating teachers’ incredible impact on their students and the broader school community.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Teacher Appreciation Day?

Teacher Appreciation Day honors and celebrates teachers’ hard work, dedication, and impact. It recognizes the crucial role educators play in shaping the minds and futures of their students.

When is Teacher Appreciation Day celebrated?

Teacher Appreciation Day is celebrated on the first Tuesday in May each year. The entire week is observed as Teacher Appreciation Week, providing an extended period to recognize and appreciate teachers.

Why is it important to recognize teachers?

Recognizing teachers is crucial because they educate and nurture future generations. Despite often being overworked and underpaid, teachers make significant contributions to society by shaping students’ lives and futures.

How did Teacher Appreciation Day originate?

The idea for a national day to honor teachers began in the 1940s. In 1953, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt advocated for its establishment. However, it wasn’t until 1980 that Congress officially recognized Teacher Appreciation Day. It was initially celebrated on March 7th before moving to its current date in May 1985.

How can schools celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day?

Schools can celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day in various ways, such as organizing special events, providing lunches, giving personalized gifts, and creating interactive activities that foster community among staff. During the COVID-19 pandemic, using technology to gather positive comments and organizing virtual appreciation events are effective alternatives.

What impact does Teacher Appreciation Day have on teachers?

Teacher Appreciation Day has a significant positive impact on teachers. It boosts their morale, reinforces their value in the community, and acknowledges their hard work and dedication. It helps create a supportive and appreciative environment, improving job satisfaction and motivation.

What role do students and parents play in Teacher Appreciation Day?

Students and parents play a vital role in Teacher Appreciation Day by expressing gratitude through notes, small gifts, and verbal acknowledgments. Their appreciation and recognition can make a meaningful difference in a teacher’s day and reinforce teachers’ positive impact on their lives.


Teacher Appreciation Day is a vital occasion to honor and celebrate the invaluable contributions of educators. As pillars of our society, teachers shape the minds and futures of their students, often going above and beyond despite challenges such as being overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. The origins of this special day trace back to the 1940s, with significant milestones in 1953 and 1980, leading to the current celebration on the first Tuesday in May.

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