I received the question, “What excuse do I give when I am late to school?” It was asked by a high school student. This question points to two areas of concern; 1. He hasn’t learned the value of admitting one’s mistakes and learning from them, 2. He doesn’t understand the value of being honest.
We all make mistakes. I came up with the time management program I used to train third graders and have been sharing with teachers, parents, and students nationally for 25+ years, because I have issues with time management. I work at it daily. When I forget to review my calendar and my time commitments, I end up messing up again. This happened to me the other day. I wanted to offer parents a second Facebook live event on a day that I shouldn’t have scheduled anything. I didn’t determine that until I realized I had missed the 12 noon time for the scheduled live event. I could blame it on a number of reasons that would be valid, but when it came down to it, I just overbooked myself. It wasn’t until I did it, that I realized booking business on a vacation with my great niece was not good time management.
How do I admit it to people when I teach time management? I do it the way I instructed my students. I encourage my students to admit they made mistakes, determine why, and offer a way of solving it.
The student who asked me the question does not understand the value to him for being honest. When we are honest with people, their respect for us tends to grow. If we make excuses after excuses, people lose respect for us or we get the reputation of being “Late Lucy.” When it comes down to it, there is no excuse good enough, because excuses try to cover up a mistake. I would prefer hearing, “I didn’t plan well,” over “It was a family emergency.” Unless it is an emergency, which rarely happens, that excuse doesn’t change behavior. If anything it will require this student have a bank of excuses to cover-up the many times he will be late. And with each excuse, irritation on the part of the teacher will grow. By admitting one made a mistake, examining why, and then making a plan to avoid it in the future, he would be demonstrating growth. Teachers are always looking for positive growth and change. When students demonstrate they are learning from their mistakes, it will be easier for a teacher to consider raising grades from a C+ to a B- when the final grades are issued. The benefits of honesty are respect and growth.