Pointing Fingers

Every teacher is familiar with the situation where they intervene in an argument, or ask that pointless question, "Who's talking?" Any teacher expecting a straight answer in these situations either hasn't been teaching long or has incredibly virtuous students. In my own experience, getting to the bottom of who started the fight or who was talking on line (we must have silence in the hallways!) is nearly impossible. Instead you have two or more fingers pointing in two or more directions.

What's funny, I've noticed, is that the adults in my school don't handle blame much differently. While I'm sure I take a fair amount of heat behind my back, I think I'm pretty good at navigating the complex politics of my school. As a result, all sorts of people feel comfortable speaking candidly to me. This means, people have no problems bad mouthing each other to me. It gets especially interesting when someone drops the ball or a miscommunication takes place, because everyone is quick to pin the blame on someone else.

The sixth rule in my classroom is, "Accept responsibility for your own behavior." It's really more of a goal than a rule. I wonder, if even adults avoid responsibility at all costs, how can I hope for my students to do otherwise?


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