Numbering the Stars: An Open Letter To All Those Who Accept Apologies

Dear apology-accepters, forgivers, and second-chance (and third, fourth and even fifth-chance) bestowers,

Thank you. Thank you for hearing me, for listening to my stumbling, poorly-worded, humbling apology. Thank you for allowing me the freedom to admit my flaws, my failures, and my mistakes. Thank you for your words of consternation and wisdom, of comfort and support, of patience. Thank you.

Gratefully,

Me

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Today I’m grateful for the opportunity that comes after a true apology. In my classroom, when consequences must be administered, I often send students away to write a reflection letter. They know that this letter needs to contain not only an apology for bad behavior, but also a thoughtful plan to change those actions in the future. They see it as a punishment. In the past, I’ve seen it as an opportunity to sneak in a writing assignment. After thinking about it today, I realize that the reflection letter is actually a valuable opportunity.

There’s a certain freedom that comes from admitting wrongdoing and putting an exact name on the problem behavior, and with that freedom comes the capacity to envision a better future. Today, I’m grateful for that freedom. I’m grateful for the chance to write my own reflection letter, not to dwell on my mistakes, but to see where I can improve. I’m grateful to those wonderful people in my life who have the strength not only to accept my apology, but to hold me accountable for the changes that apology indicates. I’m grateful for my family.

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