Monday, January 21, 2013

Forgiveness in the classroom--is it necessary?

Slice of Life
http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com
My classroom policy has always been that every morning starts fresh--no matter what happened the day before. But I had not really thought about forgiveness as a tool for classroom management; not until I read an article by Michael Linsin published by the Smart Classroom Management. (Why Forgiveness Is a Powerful Classroom Management Strategy)
I started thinking; where do I usually hear about forgiveness? Church, among friends and family, maybe even among colleagues; but with my students? Well, I have apologized when I did not get the papers graded fast enough or when I had misplaced a student's paper. But using forgiveness to manage my classroom??? I would have to think deeper:

I started thinking about the student or students whose daily plan seems to be to disrupt the classroom. Not really by being mean, but by constantly finding reasons to get up, make a comment, blow a nose (just to make a sound), poke the person next to him/her, or just move the chair enough to make everyone lose their concentration. How do I respond? What tone do I use? Does my response encourage and propel further disruptions? Am I feeding the students' need to misbehave?And then, what do I need to change if I want to practice forgiveness in my classroom?

According to Michael Linsin,
  • Although forgiveness is a remarkable de-stressor, it isn’t simply an internal, personal decision you make and keep to yourself. No, you must share it with your students.
  • You must show them through your quick smile and open, welcoming body language that every day is a new day and that the mistakes of the past are truly forgotten and gone forever.
  • Greeting your most challenging students with a kind word, being in their company with no strings attached, sharing a story with the one who spent the previous afternoon in time-out . . . these simple actions have power.
  • Radical forgiveness—that which is given fully and freely with no expectation of anything in return—can be a remarkable tonic for your classroom.
So, what shall I do tomorrow in my classroom?
  • I will continue to enforce our classroom rules and policies
  • I will smile more 
  • I will show with my words and my behavior that past mistakes are truly forgotten and forgiven (just remember: this is new and I am in training)
  • I will make a conscious effort to greet my most challenging students  with kind words, and making myself available to these students (even when I don't have to)
  • I will practice radical forgiveness in my classroom
  • I will pique my students' interest by designing a sign: Radical forgiveness happens here (picture to come in a future post). It just might start an interesting conversation  in my class.  
Will I be perfect tomorrow and this week? Absolutely not! But, I have started something that can sow seeds for years to come. I am sure I will still get frustrated and make sarcastic comments, nevertheless, I have started my journey to irrigate my classroom with forgiveness and kindness Perhaps, I will need a bracelet that I can snap to remind me of the power of my words--both positive and negative.

29 comments:

  1. Are you familiar with the apology of action (from Responsive Classroom)? I always found that to be very effective when I taught fourth and fifth grades.

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    1. Thanks Stacey! I will have to investigate!

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  2. Jaana,
    This plan sounds good! Goodluck with irrigation plan! You have to try because if you don't you will never know what might have been...
    Amy

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    1. Excatly! Unless you try.....you don't know if you will succeed!

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  3. What a thought proviking post! It si hard to always be positive and "irrigate with kindness" but if you keep that as a FOCUS you will do more of it than you think. I've been TRYING to have my students be more SELF-REFLECTIVE this year both in terms of learnig and behavior as part of my my own "professional growth plan." I am amazed at their comments. WHen doing a video of one student's more fluent reading, others were chatting as usual; when reflecting he said, "I think I should be quieter when others are recording!" It's a small step....

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    1. Great idea Anita! Self-reflection....so many things I should try in the classroom. I have to ponder your ideas as well.

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  4. I totally think being able to forgive is essential for all of life, so is learning how to say sorry and also learning how to say thank you. Our kids need to be taught this and we can give them the tools in our classrooms. I love when you said you need to smile more! I need to do that also. XO

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    1. Thanks Nanc! Smiling was happening today!

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  5. I really liked reading your thoughtful reflection. I will need to go back and re-read it and then read your sources. Thank you for sharing. Good luck in your adventure I am glad you shared your insight.

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  6. Thank you for sharing what you are learning and what inspires your thinking and change. I like learning something new every day. With each new group of kids I am forced to review and improve the ways I create a positive learning environment.

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    1. Terje, it really is about the positive learning environment! One of my students who had moved away and came to see me today. I was really smiling! I feel like I have made an impact when they come back, right.

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  7. Along with forgiveness, hand in hand go love and patience... the true, not physical, love that we should have means that there is nothing expected in return when you give it, and true patience is not just biting your tongue; it's waiting with a happy heart. Using all those in a classroom is nothing we can be perfect at, but in remembering those qualities and falling back on them as we stumble around this life, we can be ultimately happier ourselves while doing infinite good for others. I loved your post. It came on the heels of a wonderful Sunday night service about just these things. I have so far to grow! Wouldn't our classrooms be a welcoming place if not only we, but our students could learn these principles?

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    1. I taught a few of my high school ESL students the word "rude" today. We discussed why a student's words/behavior was rude, and what would be the correct response when understanding wrong doing. Forgiveness was part of that lesson! The journey has began!

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  8. It's indicative of the type of teacher you are that you paused to reflect and learn. Kindness and forgiveness are two qualities we need to model for our students...and your note to self is a powerful validation of how seriously you take this mentoring.

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    1. Thank you Tara! Mentoring is definitely a journey! Maybe more reports to come along the way:-)

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  9. I, too, try to practice "each day a new beginning" with my students (preschoolers). I'm curious - he mentions "sharing this forgiveness" with our students...does he mean to tell them about the practice of forgiving? I've never done that! Though, what an interesting discussion to have with preschoolers, I think! Lots to think about - thank you for sharing!

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    1. WOW! I raise my hat to anyone who teaches preschoolers! I have voiced the words "radical forgiveness" in my classroom, but my students are older...

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  10. I love the phrase "radical forgiveness." Think every kid, at home or school, should have a new start every day. And sometimes, it's so, so, so hard.

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    1. Carol, I really had to practice this a few times this week...not always easy.

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  11. Forgiveness can be tricky for adults when they are faced with students disrupting class every day. I think radical forgiveness should be a tool we use. It's the only way our students will feel like they can try new behavior. I think I'll work this into our class norm convo!

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    1. Chris, I am feeling that came a little short today. I think I owe one of my students some "radical forgiveness" on Monday. I think he disrupted my class one too many times....

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  12. Forgiveness can be tricky for adults when they are faced with students disrupting class every day. I think radical forgiveness should be a tool we use. It's the only way our students will feel like they can try new behavior. I think I'll work this into our class norm convo!

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  13. The class motto each year is "tabula rasa" or "clean slate". I agree with you wholeheartedly that each day must start fresh. Many students need the opportunity to make things different, & your "radical forgiveness" seems such a huge part of that. Thanks for the thoughtful way you shared this. Love it!

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  14. Ooo... I needed this one today! One of my more challenging students gave me a serious run for my money today... *sigh*

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  15. Wow, this is such an incredible idea and so important to keep in mind. I love the idea of the "radical forgiveness" sign! You've challenged me to strive for this as well, since I have more challenging students this year than I've ever had before. (Amazing the difference that happens when you go from teaching an elective to teaching a required class!)

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    1. All the best to you Jennifer! I try this every day, but like today, I think it "slipped" my mind just a little bit....time to make a change for Monday:-)

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