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Forgive and forget

Behaviour Management

Forgive and forget

a guide for classroom teachers and teacher aides

Image of a modern classroom with a teacher working one-on-one with a student.

There is a saying in teaching that ‘kids are very forgiving’. What exactly does this mean? Basically, it means that children don’t hold grudges (at least against their teachers). They start each day afresh and are happy for their teachers to try new things, and to fail and try again. In other words, they forgive teachers for having a bad day, for getting angry or for forgetting something. They understand that the teacher is just doing their job and they don’t think anything is strange about being reprimanded one minute and having a casual chat the next (which is very strange in any other context).

Forgiving and moving on will save you a heap of stress and mean you too can start afresh each day as if you were starting a new job in a new school.

In fact, children are unbelievably forgiving. You can scream at them today and be their favourite teacher tomorrow (not that you should be screaming of course). What is the point you ask? The lesson here is that teachers should be more like their students by forgiving and forgetting mistakes. Whether a student yells at you, calls you a name or throws a chair – forgive them as they would you. Let them have a fresh start the following day. Don’t hold grudges. Move on once an issue has been dealt with.

Novice teachers may find it hard to forgive and forget particularly if they feel that students have wronged them in some way (especially if students have embarrassed them). Students get moody and frustrated. They have bad days just like adults do. Try doing something as difficult as learning maths, reading or science for 5-6 hours per day – it’s really hard work and super frustrating when you can’t figure something out. Being frustrated when learning is actually very normal, yet many teachers treat this natural emotional response as if it is personally offensive. Even worse, many teachers don’t even recognise the signs of frustration and only see the surface behaviours. Forgiving and moving on will save you a heap of stress and mean you too can start afresh each day as if you were starting a new job in a new school.

Don’t hold grudges. Move on once an issue has been dealt with.

Hint: Students are excellent models when it comes to forgiving mistakes. This is especially the case if you are honest and tell them what is happening, what you are trying to achieve, or that you’re still learning and practising ‘teaching techniques’. Students love that kind of candour and may even become allies in your quest to master your craft.

About the author

Image of the managing director of FTTA.

ADAM GREEN

Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of FTTA, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.

Source: Behaviour Management Skills and Strategies for the Modern Classroom: 100+ research-based strategies for both novice and experienced practitioners.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to check his article for accuracy, information may be outdated, inaccurate or not relevant to you and your location/employer/contract. It is not intended as legal or professional advice. Users should seek expert advice such as by contacting the relevant education department, should make their own enquiries, and should not rely on any of the information provided.

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