So I was a bit sad the other day after school.
As I was walking out of the classroom to go home and something caught my eye. Something that I was a bit shocked to see to be honest. It was the five of clubs. Yes, the playing card five of clubs. It was on the floor, but that was not what struck me as disturbing. It was ripped to pieces. So you might just say, what’s this teacher making such a big deal out of a ripped up playing card? I mean who cares anyway right? It was one of my grade 1 students who made a bad decision. I do not know the circumstances, exactly when it occurred but it did happen at carpet time.So I thought of last week’s Twitter #pypchat on the Learner Profile. How could I make connections to this? What an authentic teachable moment! I thought a lot about this and decided that I would make inquiries as to who made this poor decision.
So the next morning, I asked the kids what they thought a principled person looked like, acted like. We came up with a few examples. So then we discussed the playing card in question. At first denial was the order of the day. After all, surely I would just gloss over this minor infraction right? I pressed on. I really wanted accountability. We discussed what it was to be an honest person. From a personal standpoint, I feel that as teachers, guiders, we need to help learners be responsible, global citizens. Take responsibility. If you made a bad choice, that’s fine- take responsibility for it. It is just how I was taught. How I grew up. So I asked the person responsible to be just that, and let me know quietly who ripped the card. A note, a quiet chat…anything. I let all learners know that I was not mad, and would not get angry. I told my 6 year olds that I have made many poor choices, and have owned up to them. It is the right thing to do. We also discussed how we should not blame or accuse someone else.
So the day started to passed. Then at lunch I saw a note on my computer. It was from the student who had made a bad decision. I felt very proud of that student. I felt proud as a teacher. I went to the student quietly at lunch and asked if that student gave me a letter.It was confirmed. I merely said thank you for being so honest. The look on this student’s face- it was like a ton of bricks was lifted off her. Being honest was not a punishment. It was a mistake, and when we take responsibility and are principled, mistakes can be forgiven.
So we are back in class after lunch. Kids were a bit on edge I feel as I inquired again about the card. I let them know that a class member was responsible for their actions and had talked to me and I mentioned how very proud I was (without naming names). Suddenly the learner who was responsible raised a hand and proclaimed ‘ I did it’. Afterwards a few others wanted to ‘claim responsibility’ as well and said they helped too! We all wanted to feel good.
In the end, we were all happy. We need to know that we can make mistakes and can be forgiven.
We are all human.
What a valuable teaching and learning moment! Great that you responded so quickly and appropriately before the moment was lost. Your anecdote shows the value of talking about the learner profile in language the students will understand, and of exploring with them what particular attributes look like, sound like, feel like. Mistakes happen and it’s what happens next that’s important. In this case the story had a happy ending, with everyone happy. If only the mistakes made by politicians and the like were so quickly followed up and resolved!
Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing. I always ask my students to think whether it is better to realise and accept a mistake or just just live with it and have the burden on our shoulders. What I found really interesting is how you started from the learner profile. Great tip!. I will definitely use it on my classroom