What is it?
Luckily, empathy doesn't mean "niceness." It doesn't mean I have to sing Kumbaya at the beginning of class. It doesn't mean I have no expectations for the class. What it does mean is I must show care for students and help them to take responsibility in all that they do.
Empathy vs. Punishment
The first step in Love and Logic is to turn these moments into opportunities for compassion. A student who is distracted we could ask "It looks like your having trouble with this, can you tell me what's difficult?" Giving the student a chance to respond is no longer a defensive position, but a conversation not a fight.
I encourage you to think about how you interact with students and management issues. Do you lash out? Do you do nothing? I think both of those answers are wrong. We as teachers do need to teach our students responsibility and how to be citizens, but not by means of punishment, or fear but by restorative empathy. I'd love to hear from you. What are your wishes? How can we turn those into positive enforceable statements?