One of the sticking points about life and relationships both personal and professional, is to insist that ‘your’ viewpoint is the right viewpoint. To offer and incorrect statement or recommend an action that proves to be wrong is reluctantly followed by an apology.

Within school contexts, this can have atmosphere destroying and suspicion arousing outcomes.

For teachers, it can be all too easy to make mistakes. It may be the incorrect spelling of a word, the misunderstanding of roles played by children in some dispute, or getting it wrong when it comes to a particular fact being correct or incorrect. In these instances and others, to apologise to students for a mistake or misunderstanding is important. It models a correct social attitude to children and also earns respect from children. The following examples illustrate my point.

1. Incorrect Instructions

On occasions, incorrect instructions might be given to students who are asked to complete an assignment or other piece of work. When the mistake is realised, or when it is pointed out by students or parents, an apology and correction earns respect. To discount the error is quite the reverse. If students complete work tasks based on instructional error, acceptance of the assignment rather than requiring resubmission is the better course of action.

2. Forgetting an event

The lives of teachers, classes and schools is both crowded and busy. In that context, upcoming events which require preparation, parental permission, the wearing of special clothing (i.e. swimming, costumes for an item being presented) or the need extra food because the class is going on an excursion can be forgotten. Sometimes it is too late to correct the matter so children miss out on the event or the excursion. Apologise for your mistake; don’t try to brush it over.

3. Failing to keep appointments

Appointments are made to be kept. Perchance you are not able to keep an appointment, for instance with a parent or student, make contact and apologise. Set up an alternative date and time.

4. Misjudgement

If misjudging a matter, apologise for the mistake. It can be easy to misjudge a situation involving student discipline, work completion and so on. If this happens and the mistake is yours. say so and apologise.

Teachers are models. This includes in behaviour and attitude. If something you do is wrong, say so, apologise and move on. That will be good modelling and leading by example. Apologising as necessary is part of role modelling.

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