I Screwed Up

Yesterday afternoon I kept noticing a boy who seemed distracted during our independent reading time. He was on his computer, supposedly reading (they have several options for reading or listening to books online). Finally I walked over to check on him and he immediately minimized his browser.

One of my other kiddos enjoying his computer.

I responded poorly. I had him bring the browser back up, close it out, and log off. I made some comment about him wasting his reading time. And I walked away. The thing is, as he was closing the browser I noticed he was at our class website. He was reading it. That’s not something I want to discourage. As soon as he minimized his browser I made a decision about what was going to happen and I carried it out without any more thought. Had I paused long enough to talk to him I would have realized what he was doing. He clearly thought it wasn’t allowed, which I’ve now reinforced, but I could have talked to him about the fact that he was reading and that was exactly what we were doing at that time.

I haven’t yet gone back to this. I will. I need to talk to the entire class about the options they have on their computers during our reading time as my only expectation is that they are reading. (Of course, we may need to have some conversation about what sites they want to visit as, knowing my own children, I can already imagine some that I’m not sure I consider school-appropriate.) I also need to go back and talk with this specific child and apologize for my response.

I screwed this one up. Not only did I respond poorly and in frustration in the moment, but I also established an expectation that doesn’t fit what I believe. I sent a message that reading our class website isn’t acceptable. Good gracious. I know I don’t do as well when I am stressed and tired (which describes me pretty well in December) and should remember to give myself extra time to respond to kids.

On the plus side, I realized I screwed up. I know there were many years of my teaching career in which I wouldn’t have questioned what I did there. That’s a step forward. The more years I teach the better I get but the higher I raise the bar as well. I’ll never be perfect, but the kids deserve me doing my best. That means I have to question myself and recognize my mistakes. Then own them and improve. It’s just so dang hard in December.

2 replies on “I Screwed Up”

  1. marcilaevens says:

    One of the best ways that I have been able to forge positive relationships with my students (junior high kids) is that when I have screwed up I owned it. I talked about my mistake publicly with them and apologized if necessary. Your mistake is one we have all made! Jumping to conclusions and acting before reflecting….just own it – the kids will understand.

  2. fishstory says:

    Personally, I think seeing grownups own up to mistakes is probably one of the most valuable moments kids can have. It reinforces both that everyone makes mistakes and that it’s important to acknowledge a mistake, make amends for it (if appropriate), and move on. I still struggle with every part of that sentence, so if I can do anything to help my kids get their sooner, awesome. My perspective is only as a parent, but I imagine it fits for teachers, too. So, give yourself a pat on the back — you may have made a mistake but you’ll turn it into a more powerful moment, in the end.

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