Pop Quiz: Sorry?
Over this past year I have had a number of conversations with fellow teachers where the topic of apologizing comes up and it surprises me how many people are anti-apology especially in regards to their students. From what I gather some people believe that if they apologize for something that may or may not be their fault they are admitting fault and the floodgates of doom open and wash away all hope of the future. I of course exaggerate but the exaggeration conveys the feelings I get from the anti-apologists. I think usually what they actually say is that they might be sued or that they will appear weak.
I fall firmly in the -an apology is a social lubricant -camp. I always do my best to apologize when I recognize a mistake that I made, no matter who it is, especially if it inconveniences them. For example, mistakes in directions, typos that obscure the meaning of information I am presenting or are on a test and add to the stress of testing. But I even go a step further and apologize for things that are definitely not my fault. I’m sorry that you are upset, or (one that I use a lot) I am sorry my meaning was not clear to you. I find that it smoothes over a lot of issues that plagued other people. I am acknowledging a person’s feelings and then they are usually more receptive to what I am saying even if what I am saying is not what they want to hear. I know I make mistakes and I feel it is important to acknowledge them.
And what about getting sued? People tend not to sue people they like and who doesn’t like me? I’m the teacher who listened. How do they know I listened? Well, I apologized.
When something you do backfires or you make a mistake do you apologize to your students? Have you ever thought about the impact of choosing to apologize or choosing not to?
The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it to appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons (ET).
Feature Image Sorry on Australia Day-sky writing, National Apology Day 2014, by Butupa