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Say You Are Sorry, And Mean It!

This is perhaps the single hardest thing to teach a child.

I have seen the scenario play out time and again, and I hate to say it, but as a teacher I was guilty of the same thing.

Teacher: “Say you’re sorry to Johnny.”

Adam: “Sorry.”

Teacher: “And Johnny, what do you say to Adam?”

Johnny: “It’s okay.”

And off they go none the wiser as to how meaningless those apologies were. So right now Adam is thinking how easy it was to push Adam on the playground because he never really got in trouble, and plus Adam hit the jack pot . . . the teacher solved the problem for him anyways.

And there goes Johnny hurt that his feelings were not validated, knowing that something didn’t feel right about the apology, and assuming that the teacher took Adam’s side.

So yes, we can all wipe our hands clean, claiming that we have taught children how to apologize.

Except, how can we instill in children the courage to admit when you’ve made a mistake and right your wrong?

Well, that was my challenge this week with 4th grade.

Sorry, isn’t going to cut it!

Topics Covered: Communication Skills, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Courage, Responsible Behavior, Fairness

I started my lesson with a review from last meeting, teamwork. I asked what happens when a lot of people work together but everyone has different ideas. Well, they don’t always agree, or in 4th grade language they fight.

So, what happens when you do or say something that you later regret? You apologize and you do so meaningfully.

“Sorry” by Trudy Ludwig brings this whole idea to life. The moral of the story (if we want to put it that way), actions speak louder than words, or better yet right your wrongs. Not only does this book help demonstrate my lesson of apologies, but it is also a great example of courage (our Mater virtue for the month of October).

After reading the story, we discussed how we could tell when someone says he is sorry and means it, as well as what it would take for you to genuinely forgive someone.

Some of the answers were unique, others were based off of lesson learned in the story.

Lately, I seem to be adding a video into each of my lessons. I noticed that a 3 minutes example through a well known video not only helps stress my point, but might make them remember the lesson each time they see that portion of the movie, show, etc. Who knows, but for idealism sake let’s say it really happens.

So, I showed them the “For the Birds” Pixar video and asked them to pick out good and bad examples of teamwork. After the video, they shared their answers and we discussed appropriate apologies and actions that could right the characters’ wrong.

We ended the lesson by starting a project that will need to be finished in my next lesson.

We began creating a “Wanted” poster for a good friend or teammate. The boys were given an example of an Old West Wanted poster off which to base their ideas. The goal for this lesson was to just cut and glue. Simple enough, right? I DON’T THINK SO! I’ll make you wait patiently for the follow up lesson to see exactly what we did with these Wanted posters.

Speaking of Old West, look what I acquired this weekend.


I got (Spencer got) myself a new toy. And yes I know I’m slowly becoming quite the Texan (said by the girl currently cheering on her undefeated Houston Texans football team as we speak!).

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