Leadership magazine Nov/Dec 2015 V45 No 2 - Page 26

by _______.” In Josh’s scenario, his apology went something like this: “Mr. Smith, I apologize for leaving class early on Friday. I recognize that by leaving class, I disrupted the learning environment. In the future, I promise I will stay in class and complete the work you assign us. If you notice me getting antsy or agitated in the future, could you give me that little head shake you do? That will remind me of this conversation.” Once we assisted Josh in crafting his apology, we then coached him on the various responses he could expect from the person he was apologizing to by role-playing his apology being well received and then by roleplaying his apology not being well received. This point cannot be underestimated. Often, students feel that doing the work of creating and delivering an apology should in and of itself make everything all right. What we know in doing this work is that sometimes the person receiving the apology is still angry, hurt or upset. And in that case, it is entirely possible the person on the receiving end says something that reflects those feelings. We coach the students through that possibility and role-play negative responses. We remind students that in crafting and delivering the apology, they are doing their part. How others react is up to them. It is critical that the person apologizing not react angrily when faced with a negative reaction, because if they do, they might as well not bother apologizing in the first place. In addition, if they get angry, the person on the receiving end will more than likely feel that they were right about the person apologizing in the first place. We are reminded of a time we were working with a middle school student and this phenomenon became clear to us. The student got a referral from the “lunch lady” for repeatedly cutting in line. We went through the whole process of apologizing, and everything was going very well until we roleplayed the lunch lady not receiving the apology very well. The student we were working with became really angry right there in the assistant principal’s office, which ended up being perfect because we were able to share how important it is to simply say, “Thank you for accepting my apology.” And to then follow up the apology with actions that show 26 Leadership We remind students that in crafting and delivering an apology, they are doing their part. How others react is up to them. It is critical that the person apologizing not react angrily when faced with a negative reaction... the apology was sincere. For Josh, after role-playing several times, we told him it was time to go deliver the apology. His eyes got huge and he asked, “Now?” We replied, “Yep. The timing is perfect. It’s sixth period.” He responded, “I can’t apologize in front of the whole class!” We especially love it when kids say this because then we get to say, “Well, you had no problem doing what you did in front of the whole class, so now we’re going to go and make it right in front of the whole class.” And for that, there is no response. Josh nodded and said, “Okay, let’s go.” So here we go, the two of us, along with the assistant principal and a teacher we picked up along the way, all walking down to the classroom. At this point, we are hoping for an open response, but the teacher didn’t know we were coming, so a variety of responses were certainly possible. When we entered the classroom, the assistant principal asked if he could have a couple of minutes to speak to the class. After the teacher agree