I’m Sorry Made Easy

Kids will be kids. We all know that. But what about that faceless kid who does something very naughty, something that takes away the fun for the group? What can we do when we know someone is guilty, but we have no way of proving who without a confession? Do we punish the whole group, well that just never works and honestly, although I shrink away from saying “it’s not fair” well, it’s not fair. It isn’t right to punish a whole group when one child is guilty. Well, today I found a way for “I’m Sorry”to be “Made Easy”.

It all started when I picked my class up at computers. I could tell something was wrong because they were already lined up at the door with the computer teacher when I arrived. Usually I have to drag them all away from their favorite, Minecraft EDU. Today I walked up and inquired,

“Is something wrong?”

“Yes,” the computer teacher replied. “Someone went invisible today (in Minecraft, hahaha, I don’t teach in a wizard school) and destroyed the work that several teams were building.” She had her arms folded and her face told me this was bad.

I looked at my class, all lined up with those eager faces, wanting to tell me all that they knew but sensing this wasn’t the time.

“I told them they have until Friday for someone to come to me and confess,” she continued, “if no one confesses by Friday then no Minecraft next week, we will all be doing ‘Type to Learn’.”

Oh man, if you could have seen those dejected faces. Talk about punishing the whole group. And I know from past experience, the culprit rarely comes forth by the deadline. They are hidden as it stands, punished right along with everyone else, and the sacrifice of ‘fessing up is just not worth it.

As I led the class away I pondered on what to do. Unbeknownst to them, I was about to take them all out for an extra recess with the rest of the third graders. It was the first day of their state assessments and we thought they could use a little extra play time. I could remove the recess time but again, to punish the whole because of the one…

It was then that the most brilliant idea came to me!

I have a lot of behavior issues in my class this year. A few months ago I began having the children involved in any altercations write out for me an explanation of what happened. It saved me from wasting class time getting to the bottom of things and gave the guilty parties time to think through what they did and why. It has actually worked quite well.

So we came in the room and I had them all sit down.

“Children, I was planning on taking you all outside for an extra recess today,” I began,

That brought smiles to their faces!

“however I need to know who behaved so poorly in computer lab.”

Sad faces.

“So I have decided to give whoever needs to confess one chance. He or she will restore our extra recess and be able to restore Minecraft for you next week. I’m going to give everyone a piece of paper. One of you will be apologizing and explaining and everyone else will just write me a nice letter! Got it?”

Tentative smiles and nodding heads.

I handed out paper, instructed them to go somewhere so they could write in private, and told them to hand their letters in to me when they were finished.

“Hurry so we have time for extra recess!” I encouraged them.

And it worked! It really did! I got 21 lovely letters and 1 note of apology; signed, sealed, and delivered. I did nothing except praise all of them for acting so quickly and I let them know I was very proud of their classmate who decided to do the right thing and be honest.

We went out, they played, and I smiled because I figured out a way for “I’m Sorry” to be “Made Easy”!

Tomorrow I’ll deal with my culprit!

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6 thoughts on “I’m Sorry Made Easy

  1. This is fantastic! I was so happy and relieved at the end that you got that note and I think this is a brilliant, kind strategy I will remember if ever needed. I really enjoyed this Slice.

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  2. This is such a brilliant idea. I wish I had read it before today. We have been having problems with our schools shared ipads. Today I knew which class was responsible, but not the who. I went to have a heart to heart with the group and told them that until we had figured out a plan to facilitate individual responsibility, I was going to have to not let them use them. It wasn’t my first time dealing with this group, and they are mostly darlings. Sometimes kids do things just without thinking. After our conversation, they were mostly appalled about what happened and ok with finding a different and better way to sort it all out.
    I’m pretty sure I would have done things differently if I had read this first though.

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  3. That’s awesome! 🙂 So many of the things you do as a teacher are the same things I did and I love reading your posts. Being retired, it brings back fond memories of my classroom. I still miss teaching and it’s been 6 years….but I don’t miss the stress of standardized state tests!

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