Sunday, March 6, 2016

Say it Like you Mean It! A Better Way to Say Sorry."

 I recent repetitive swirl of girl drama got me thinking about apologies.  These girls are superstars at hurting one another and amateurs at apologizing.  Picture this,  Girl A  takes a big huffy breath and with an eye roll  says in an exasperated tone, "Sorry." To which Girl B replies without making eye contact in a barely audible voice,  "That's okay."  Well, it's not okay.  Not for me and definitely not for them. They will be back.  You know it and I know it.  It's just that I have several problems with this exchange.  For one, the offender is taking no responsibility for what she did.  Secondly, the whole voice, facial expression, and body language of both parties tells me this is NOT over.  Third, the receiver of this less than academy award winning performance responded with "That's okay."  Actually it's not okay, you were hurt by another human being.  By saying "That's okay," it's like one person is telling the other it's okay that you treated me badly.

 Of course there are other deeper issues here dealing with friendship and self-esteem, but the quick flippant "Sorry," seemed like a good place for me to start. If  students can learn  to have empathy and confidence in  their ability to do something as basic as apologizing,  then maybe this is a foundation I can continue to build on.  Their dramatically negative sorry was not working.  Not for me or for them.  I knew their "apology" was just a band-aid and so the whole exchange really bothered me. A lot. After giving it some thought, I decided learning how to give a sincere apology was such a valuable social skill I would teach it to all my students in grades 3-5, not just my drama girls. Below is the article on which I based my lessons.

Over the summer I read an article called A Better Way to Say Sorry. It is amazing and you will definitely want to take the time to read it. In it blogger Joellen, at Cuppa Cocoa, talks about teaching her class how to apologize after attending a workshop.  I was astounded at the simplicity and impact such a small thing had on her class.  So I thought I would give it a try by creating two classroom lessons around the steps to apologizing from Joellen's blog and the book Sorry, by Trudy Ludwig.

Lesson 1 Involves some partner talk, reading Trudy Ludwig's book Sorry, discussion about the book and a PowerPoint presenting the physical and verbal elements to saying sorry and what that would look and sound like.

Lesson 2 Involves teaching the steps to "A Better way to say Sorry," and some class role playing with their shoulder partners and for the class.

Lesson Plans for How to Say Sorry
How to Say Sorry PowerPoint
How to Say You're Sorry Lesson Plan 1
How to Say You're Sorry Lesson Plan 2
Apology Role plays
 Steps for How to Say You're Sorry poster for school and home

My students seem to "get" this lesson.  They have all either given or received an insincere apology and they understand how powerful it can be to receive a sincere apology from someone who has wronged you. They have also done a masterful job at role playing, especially with the part in the apology where they must take responsibility for their actions.  My next step is to send home the "How to  Say You're Sorry" steps and to share the steps with classroom teachers.

These lessons teach a valuable social emotional skill students are too often missing.  I hope your classes enjoy these lessons as much as we have.

Many thanks to Joellen at Cuppa Cocoa for her permission to share her article and method of teaching children to say sorry.


  1. Looking forward to sharing this information!

  2. Looking forward to sharing this information!

  3. Thank you! It's great to watch your students start to make connections.

  4. Wow! Thank you for featuring Sorry! as a part of your lesson plan for your students! I'm so glad that you find my book useful in helping children understand the healing power of a heartfelt, sincere apology. You wrote a wonderful lesson plan!

  5. Thank you for your kind comment and compliment! I am truly touched. Thank you most of all for using your talents to write such important books for children. I have also enjoyed using My Secret Bully, Trouble Talk and Just Kidding. I recently added the Invisible Boy to my collection and am looking forward to sharing it as well. Please keep blessing us with your talents!

  6. Very nice and helpful information has been given in this article. I like the way you explain the things. Keep posting. Thanks for sharing.
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