A Lesson In Apologizing

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My student’s apology letter.

I received this letter from my student. He couldn’t wait to give it me. Yes, I had cut access from all of his favorite things. Prior to this letter, he defied every single thing that he was instructed to do. He refused to acknowledge anyone that spoke to him and he even chose to be snippy with me. I gave him a few chances. Let’s be honest, sometimes I don’t want to be bothered. I completely get it. I’d like to be snippy at times while at work. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury. The atmosphere of my class depends on me. Well, if I’m technical, I usually have praise and worship in my class before school even gets started. That’s the real atmosphere setter. Nonetheless, after Bri Babineaux has helped me usher in the Holy Spirit, I’m usually ready to tackle whatever may come.

On this day, Fun Friday, my ultra talented and brilliant student managed to upset his teacher. I gave multiple warnings. Obviously, he didn’t take the warnings serious. Until, I said that his Fun Friday was over at 8:15 in the morning and that I wasn’t budging. My students have learned that I want them to have fun while learning. I absolutely love to hear their voices and their laughter. If I ask for quiet, I expect it. I don’t require it often. They also know that if Ms. Wilson says it, it’s as good as done. Sticking to my word has earned me their respect. If I say we’re doing something, it’s done. No excuses. So, they know when I shut something down, it’s done. No excuses.

Well, he waited patiently until I completed helping another student to pass along this note to me (he earned kudos for that. I don’t like students interrupting another student who is getting help unless it’s an emergency). I didn’t know what it was. After reading it, I looked up. Lo and behold, he was staring at me with his most pitiful facial expression. I had to hold back my laughter. See, I wasn’t actually upset. We work on social skills in my class and so I get to use my acting skills. He had to know that his behavior was unacceptable.

What was I suppose to do? Continue to hold a fake grudge with my very remorseful student? Of course not, his Fun Friday festivities were fully restored. I didn’t keep my word. He worked hard all week. What he couldn’t express verbally, he put it in his letter. He chose to not only say that he was sorry, but acknowledge what actually led to his toxic behavior. I was so proud when reading it. It’s something we work on daily. I learned a few things, also. There is no excuse to not acknowledging when you have been on the wrong side of a situation. If my student never apologized, I would have never expected it from him. See, most of my students are unable to identify with their feelings or the feelings of others. At least, that’s what society says. I know better and truly expect better from them. I also, learned from this brief apology how to effectively and intentionally apologize.

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