The Power of Apology
One of my favorite books is The Giver. Typically studied in grade 6, this wonderful piece of literature provides a perfect example of a meaningless apology; an apology that is recited without touching anybody and is accepted automatically as the recipients chant: “We accept your apology”. My grade 6s found it amusing and entertaining and why shouldn’t they?
As I was getting tangled in my questions and my concerns an opportunity presented itself. I attended a workshop: “Teaching and Supporting Healthy Relationship skills” with Dr. Suzanne Zwarych. One of the activities was Taking Responsibility for Emotions, which included recognizing the need to learn how to apologize and practice giving an apology. I was thrilled and as many teachers do after attending a workshop, I jumped right into my classroom with my newly acquired skills.
I planned my lessons, personalized the examples and the scenarios and gathered help from the admin team. My principal was very supportive and even helped me model scenarios and demonstrate a proper apology with a plan for action. We had follow up discussions, reflections and students had an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.
Initially my students’ feedback included comments such as:
“It’s an artificial activity….”
“I never do any of those things described in the scenarios for apologies…”
“I like it because it’s not about me really…”.
Time, consistency and patience are my best friends. It’s been about a month after the initial learning activity dedicated on proper apology and countless daily reminders with reassuring results. It’s very interesting to witness the change of class culture and attitude. I am particularly proud of one special grade six student who joined our class at the beginning of this school year and had a number of personal, family, and school issues. We all have had that one student at some point in our teaching career and it’s a true learning experience for everyone. He is now able to sincerely apologize, state his plan for action and also receive apologies from other students. I cannot possible take all the credit for that success but when you teach from the heart, making a difference is inevitable.
“What a teacher writes on the blackboard of life can never be erased.” (Author Unknown).