The Most Powerful Word Of All

I’m known for my stubbornness. If I believe something is right then I will fight for it. My friends and family will tell you, that if I truly believe in something then changing my mind about it is very difficult. Perhaps it is this side of me, which makes it easy for me to understand how hard it can be for my students to back down when they feel that they are in the right.

We work hard with our students. We teach them that it’s ok to make mistakes. We show them how to fix those mistakes. We help them to rebuild friendships. We show them that sorry is the most powerful word of all.

To do that we have not only got to encourage them to say sorry when they make mistakes, but we have to be prepared to say it ourselves. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been to my students and apologised. I’m human, I make mistakes and I want them to know that.

OK, you’re thinking, this is something I can do! It’s easy to apologise when we’ve done something wrong. But what if we haven’t? What if we’ve simply asked a student to work and been met with aggression. What then? How can we get the lesson and more importantly the relationship back on track?

Honestly? The reality is that sometimes even in situations like this an apology goes a long way. We don’t need to be sorry for what we’ve done – we can’t be – we know our student needs to work. We can however be sorry that we’ve upset the student and tell them that. In fact I must say to a student at least once a day ”I’m so sorry I upset you”. It’s a compromise, a recognition on my part that it’s hard to admit you’re wrong. But it gives my students a way out; the way out they need to get back on track. They will almost always apologise back, I will more often than not be forgiven; the work will usually be completed. For me it’s a small price to pay for an enormous gain.

This is differentiation everyone can do! It takes no time, no planning, no marking – just some understanding and a little bit of compromise. Go on; give it a go! I promise, sorry is the most powerful word of all!

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