Do You Say I’m Sorry to Your Students?

by mrsapia

The other day was one of those days.  Let’s be real.  We, as educators, periodically have them.  A number of requirements can trigger a reaction of frustration, resentment, or negative energy.  Over the years, I’ve learned how to deal with a multitude of “issues” that arise in the classroom or directives from the district.  There are some days, no matter what you do, it’s hard to shake.

This led to me being “short” with my students.  It was obvious to them that it was one of those days.  Every little action made me frustrated.  Some students kept trying to push the limits and this made me more upset.  My students have a significant amount of “freedom” in my class, but when that is pushed or abused, I will create a more controlling environment.  This goes against my educational philosophy, but it’s essential from time to time.

So after repeating simple directions and students not following them, my patience was waning. I realized I needed to take a break and a few deep breathes outside of the classroom.  This simple, yet effective, strategy goes a long way to calm the nerves and refocus your energies.  It gave me a few moments to gather my thoughts and decide what to do next.  It became obvious, that what I need to do was apologize to my students.  Now, were they at fault for not following simple directions.  Yes, no question about it.  But my reaction was a bit harsh for the situation.

I reentered the classroom and called students to the carpet.  I said “I’m sorry.”  I’m sorry for being short with you, I’m sorry for reacting how I did.  I’m sorry I took learning time away from you. I admitted my fault.  I showed them I am not perfect.  I showed them that teachers make mistakes, too.  I showed them that it’s important to take responsibilities for your actions, learn from your mistakes, reflect, and move on.  This apology led to an interesting conversation because a few students said they never had a teacher who apologized to them.  This statement was quite surprising to me. This led to powerful conversation about how everyone makes mistakes, even teachers.  A student approached me after class and said “I’m sorry I was not following directions and it won’t happen again, but thanks for apologizing and being honest with us.  This is why we love your class.”  It was a comment that was real and from the heart.

We have all been guilty of having one of those days and probably reacted to students in a way that was not the norm.  Isn’t this a chance for educators to be real and honest with students? Are teachers too proud to say I’m sorry? How often do you say you’re sorry when your wrong in the classroom? I’ve heard teachers say apologizing shows weakness in the classroom. I have to respectfully disagree with that! It can go a long way to create a positive, loving, honest, and real environment in your classroom.

I am a passionate teacher in Stamford, CT. I teach fifth grade ELA/Social Studies. I am proud to be an active member of the Twitter educational community. I am an organizer for #EdCampSWCT, a moderator for #ctedu, technology professional develop leader in my district, and a believer in a high tech/high touch blended learning approach to teaching.  I am nominated for the Bammy of 2015 Elementary School Teacher of the Year. I am a certified administrator. I believe in taking risks and working collaboratively to augment student achievement. I love children’s literature and strive to become better everyday. I am a husband and father. Follow me on Twitter @mrsapia_teach