I’m Sorry!

Sometimes as teachers, I think that we need to apologize, and tonight I feel the need to do just that. A couple of weeks ago, we had an indoor recess, and I told my students that they could use the iPod Touches, iPads, Nintendo DS’, and Livescribe Pens during the recess time. I only asked that the students that were on the iPod Touches and iPads, not go online.

When our morning indoor recess turned into an afternoon one too, I left these tools out for the students to use again. Just as I was about to leave to have my lunch, I noticed that one student that was using an iPod Touch, went into the camera app. I stopped her right away. I asked her not to use the camera, as I would not be in the classroom during the recess time. Okay, I admit it: I panicked. I started to think of all of the horror stories you hear of students abusing the privilege of taking photographs. In my head, I questioned what this student was going to do, and so, I said, “no.” She happily agreed to choose a new app, and this was the end of the conversation.

Tonight though, I was downloaded some pictures and videos off the iPod Touches, and I came across a collection of some that I didn’t recognize. I then realized that this student must have taken them during the first indoor recess when we hadn’t spoken yet. I watched every one of them. Wow! This student is really engaging in conversations with other students. She’s asking questions, she’s listening to responses, and she’s following them up with new questions.

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I immediately thought of a blog post by Carmel Crevola, an amazing educator and leader in oral language instruction. In this post, she challenges teachers not to repeat what students say. She encourages us to dig deeper in our conversations with students. In response to one of  the questions in this post, she suggests that students repeat what other students have said if there’s issues with hearing student responses. Carmel really encourages students to respond to what other students are saying. This is the part that really got me thinking.

When this student started videotaping and interviewing other students, she was forced to listen to what her peers said. She had to hear their responses, think about what they said, and decide what she wanted to say next. She had to do what I often need to do as a teacher. For this indoor recess, she was the teacher.

And now I’m sorry that I stopped her during the second indoor recess. I have an EA (Educational Assistant) in the classroom. There was a teacher on duty. She was using my iPod Touch, and all videos were saved on it. I saw everything that she did. So what was I scared of? Why didn’t I trust her to do the right thing?

A few weeks later, I’m now going to say a big, “I’m sorry,” to this student and to any other student to whom I said, “no,” when I should have said, “yes.” You’ve given me a new perspective here. Thank you!

Has this ever happened to you before? How did this impact on future decisions that you made? I’d love to hear your stories too!


10 thoughts on “I’m Sorry!

  1. Wow, what an amazing mini Ms. Dunsiger- your fantastic teaching has obviously worn off on her. As educators we are constantly making decisions that we feel are the right ones for our students. Despite making a solid effort to be mindful at all times we are human and do make mistakes and/or don’t think things through completely. What is so powerful about this episode is that it provides you with an authentic teaching lesson for your students. Children need to know that we are human. Your continued reflection on your teaching is yet another reason why your students are so lucky to have you as their teacher. Karen

    • Thank you so much, Karen! It was actually an indoor recess again today, and I used this as the opportunity to apologize to the student and show her (and the rest of the class), that even teachers make mistakes. Nobody chose to record on the iPod Touches today, but they may again one day soon, and I can’t wait to see what they do!


  2. What an excellent post, as well as exceptional lesson for all of us as educators. We tend to, as you stated, panic and think of the horror stories…I have staff now doing similar things with students and their cell phones when they would never have even allowed a cell phone to be visible 5 years ago.
    Thank you for a great post and sharing some terrific learning…

    Happy Holidays

    • Thanks Darrin! I’m glad that you mentioned the cell phone example. I know others that are using cell phones in similar ways and with amazing results. It’s amazing what can happen when we say, “yes,” instead of, “no.”

      Happy holidays to you too!

  3. Dear Ms. Dunsiger,
    None of us as educators want to stop kids from learning and at the same time, I totally understand your panic. All the “what-ifs” that might have happened.
    What I love is how you watched the videos and helped us all learn from your experience! The videographer was asking amazing questions. Maybe she is headed toward a career in media! I especially liked how she asked about the perspective question with the two sisters in the art project. Her why questions were thoughtful but not condescending.

    Way to go award to you for sharing, your “I’m sorry!” post. I’m sorry I couldn’t play Twitter elf guessing games yesterday. I tried, but couldn’t come up with any answers. My brain was on slow-mode I guess.
    Julie Hembree

    • Thanks for the comment! Glad you liked the recordings. I was so impressed too. I’m glad that I saw these videos yesterday. I think it’s okay to be scared, but I also think I’m going to try to say, “yes” now more than I say, “no.” My students have shown me just how responsible they can be. I need to trust them to do the right thing, and in a safe environment too (with teachers and EA’s present as well).

      No worries about partaking in a Twitter game yesterday! I hope that you’re enjoying your holiday!

  4. Aviva,
    You responded like any teacher would. You worried about all of the “what ifs” and rightly so. However, through all of your modeling you have taught them well. Your student was taking what you had taught her and putting it to good use.
    This post says a great deal not only about you as a teacher but about what your students have learned.
    Enjoy the holidays!

    • Thanks JoAnn! I really appreciate all of your support. Your comment made me realize the importance in modelling how to use tools responsibly, and expecting that students are going to do so too. It all comes back to developing relationships with students, so that you can trust them to do the right thing and they can trust you too.

      Have a great holiday!

  5. Aviva, your reflections again show how you are a thinking teacher. You are someone who takes the time to stop, reflect and ponder: Where was the learning? Where is the learning from what just happened? How can I take this and use it to further the learning for me and my students. I am also excited because you see that what I talk about is not just theory but it is theory based on practice, mine and others. Thanks for sharing and thanks for giving me credits where i doubt they were due.
    have a great year

    • Thanks for the comment, Carmel! You definitely do deserve recognition here. You helped me think differently about what I do and why I do it. You made me a better teacher!


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