Why saying sorry is a classroom mea culpa

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Demanding an immediate apology from a student who has stepped out of line isn’t always the best approach to resolving classroom conflicts and, in some cases, could in fact be detrimental to future relationships, finds Grainne Hallahan

'Sorry' seems to be the hardest word

The door is kicked open and the student half falls, half walks through, still shouting at some unseen person in the corridor. The previously silent pupils in the class are now a captivated audience, their work forgotten. Twenty-nine pairs of eyes are flicking between the student and the teacher to see what is going to happen next.

The door slams closed and the student slumps into his chair. The teacher moves to the side of the desk, crouches down and lowers his voice.

“The lesson started 16 minutes ago,” begins the teacher. “The first thing you should –”

“I’m sorry,” the student interrupts, ...

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