2+2 != Maths

February 15, 2012

How Sorry Helped

Filed under: classroom — Numbat @ 18:10
Tags: ,


Yesterday I had a shocker in class. A problem arose that I was unprepared for. A problem which shouldn’t have happened. A problem caused by the kids being… well kids.

And I over reacted. Badly. I didn’t yell or scream (I tend not to do that) but I jumped on them hard. I issued ultimatums and outlined consequences which were, in hindsight, unreasonable. And the kids knew it. While most just bit their lips and took it, there were a few who tried to protest and I shut them down. I could tell by their body language that they were signing out.

The thing is that if these were adults, or even senior students, I think I would have been justified in my expectations. But these students are only Year 8 and my expectations were too high.

Last nite I spent considerable time thinking about what to do. Should I bunker down and ride it out – follow through on my unreasonable expectations and issue the consequences outlined? I knew I would have a number of students simply unable to comply with my timeline, was I prepared to make them suffer unreasonably? A few years ago there would have been no question, I’d be donning the protective gear and going full tilt.

This morning I walked into class and said “Sorry”. I admitted that I had over reacted and explained to them what they had done to upset me. We set new a deadline and put in place procedures to get us through to that deadline. I reiterated the consequences for failing to fulfill their part of the bargain and offered extra assistance for anyone who needed it. When I asked if this was acceptable they were enthusiastic in their response.

While it was certainly a hard thing to do, I will count it as a huge success. The students responded very well, including those who wouldn’t even talk to me yesterday. They worked, asked questions and were generally back on track.

I know that I won’t get away with the same thing again with this class for quite some time, but I feel like I’ve prevented a very dark few weeks. Hopefully I can build on that.



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