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Unread Feb 15th, 2008, 12:01 pm
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Default Re: Would you apologize to your students?

As previously noted and frequently overlooked, we need to recognize the limits of our knowledge and promptly apologize if we make errors.

When I first started teaching English to Russian immigrants, I would regularly have to say "let me double-check" on various grammar points. Students appreciated the honesty, but also felt that I should know the answer. They were right; I learned the material and became a better teacher. Despite a slow start, I earned their respect and they made "significant and meaningful progress."

A good lawyer avoids asking witnesses questions that she doesn't know the answers to. That same strategy in the classroom, however, limits student questions. Sometimes a student will ask us a question, inspired by but not directly linked to, the lessons and topics. Being open and honest means what it says. Sometimes, although you stand in front of the room, you will not know the answer. Just admit it, promise to find the answer to their good question, and keep your promise.

As the great philosopher Maimonides advised, "teach the tongue to say 'I don't know.' "
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