Apologizing

692910_sorrow_and_worry.jpgSo on Tuesday, I wrote about an incident I had where I was awfully sarcastic with a student and it upset him. I received some great comments. The conversation is continuing over there. If you haven’t chimed in, now would be a great time to do so. And better yet, subscribe to receive comments so you don’t have to keep going back to check and recheck.

So what did I do? How did I respond on Wednesday?
Well, basically, I started out the percussion class by having them all sit in a row. I got them quiet and talked with them some. I asked them what some things were that they would change.

As I expected, the most common responses were of the “Don’t yell at us” or “Don’t use the word stupid” or “Don’t make people cry” variety.

I changed the way I am approaching the percussion class. It makes my life less stressful.

Instead of working the music in class, I am giving them more responsibility to learn the concert music on their own, and I am working with the entire class on technique and rhythm reading skills. I will get some percussion ensembles together to work on soon also. This allows everyone to participate, thus eliminating the time that they can misbehave.

I changed the way I am approaching the percussion class. It makes my life less stressful.
Then I actually apologized to two students for being rude to them. One was the one I mentioned yesterday, and the other one is failing 6 of his 7 classes. I mentioned that more than once in the class.

Everything inside of me wanted to call them into my office and talk with them privately. Then I realized that I had basically publicly humiliated them, so I ought to publicly humble myself by telling them I was sorry in front of the whole class. They’re 7th grade boys, so hopefully they will understand that I intended no harm.

So what about the principal meeting?
It hasn’t happened yet. He had an appointment at 3:00 today that he was going to try to reschedule. While I was in the office, they told me that he had a 3:00 meeting. So I guess he didn’t reschedule. No big deal. I’ll talk with him soon, I’m sure.

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

3 Comments on Apologizing

  1. Wow! What a great role model you are for the students. I think they learned a lot about this whole thing. They learned: you care about them, how to act as an adult when you make a mistake, that you will change how you do things because you can’t control their behavior. I think you handled this whole situation in a truly wonderful way.

  2. I am tired of patting kids on the back who don’t deserve it. I am tired of the false sense of self esteem were are supposed to give them. When I was little, we had to EARN respect and self esteem. It didn’t come for free. You can’t make someone else stupid. They do it to themselves. Just like you can’t make them smart by telling them they are smart. They have to study. You did not call him stupid. He was feeling stupid. Maybe he needs counciling. Maybe he needs to get his own butt off the floor and get busy and do some work to repair the damage he has done to himself. Do NOT take it personal. Kids are great at controlling us by making us feel guilty.

  3. Sounds like a good plan, Joel. Both of your tactics seem like the right: changing the format/structure of the class, and apologizing in front of the class.

    Three thoughts:

    1. Your decision to change the nature of the class to a percussion ensemble could be very successful. I had a similar situation last year when there were simply too many percussionists for one band. I kept the best percussionists in the band and created a percussion ensemble for the rest. It made the band rehearsals much better and gave the percussionists their own venue.

    2. The responses to your original post obviously show that we have ALL made similar blunders. I would guess that your readers who didn’t respond online were probably reminded of their own stories. You touched a huge nerve among teachers!

    3. One option with your principal might be to invite him to observe the percussion class. (Okay, this might also be shooting yourself in the foot!) But bringing him into your world, especially now that you’ve apologized, might help him see what a difficult situation you are in and how you are managing it. You might also tell him that if he visits the class, he would have more insight if a parent meeting happens, and he could diffuse any anger by confirming that you have apologized and are on top of the situation.

    Keep us posted, Joel! We are all empathetically on pins and needles waiting to hear what happens! :-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Page optimized by WP Minify WordPress Plugin