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love and joy (1)

Apologies Have 4 Parts

What do you mean 4 Parts?!

We’ve all heard someone (or maybe it was us?!) tell a child to “say sorry”. The kid quickly, or begrudgingly, forks out a “SORRY!” along with a facial expression that clearly communicates the child is not in support of the words coming out of their mouth.

We use 4 parts to an apology in my crew (that’s what I call my class) because it gives the person making the apology the ownership. It allows them to choose to fully explain themselves. It shows they have thought through their apology and have a plan for moving forward.
All that from 4 parts? Yep.

When you have to actually construct 4 sentences about what happen, why you’re apologizing and the plan for moving forward you can’t just let the words slip out of your mouth to appease the on- looking adult.

Real life- in my personal life and teacher life I have witnessed how this simple framework for apologizes have helped people…

-take ownership
-truly work toward a solution
-feel more confident
-be more independent
-avoid future problems

This along with several practice sheets are available (without the watermark) for download here!

Teaching the 4 Part Apology

I have used this with Kindergarten through 8th graders.

Here’s how I would teach this to literally any group.
1. Explain the why in context. I typically use a story from the classroom. “I notice people keep pushing as they go into the coat room and people are getting hurt and feeling upset, but i haven’t heard anyone acknowledge they are hurting their friends.”
2. I give them a possible solution. I show them the chart and tell them “I think this will help us, what do you think?”
3. Then I let them talk. Discourse. Always. We discuss what the parts are, what they think of them, how they might work, or really anything that comes up after I ask them, “What do you think?”
4. Then we PRACTICE! Yep, we practice apologizing. I give scenarios verbally to the whole class with low stakes things that happen ALL the time. Then, I allow a volunteer to try it out. We continue this in class meetings daily. We might even write some apologies!

5. Then we reflect. How did he do? What parts did she include? Is there anything else they could add?



Here is where this resource comes in. Then, once we’ve gotten good at the 4 part apology and everyone knows it… things will start to slip. It will loose its new sparkle. And let’s face it… we’ve moved on to new things & I’ll get relaxed on holding the expectation. SO, we will revisit. We will do more practice! I’ll hand out a written scenario of something that is commonly happening and kids will write the apology then pair up and give their apologizes verbally (role play- a great way to trick kids into practicing while thinking it’s a game).

Other Ideas

  • Act it out- kids LOVE pretending to be in trouble. Make it a game, but a way to practice the real deal.
  • Use it when you’re having a problem solving conversation with a student.
    “Thank you for identifying that you hurt Mr. A’s feelings by yelling at him when you were upset. How do you think you can fix that?
    You’re not sure? How about using the 4 part apology?”
  • Create a written reflection with the 4 part apology included for your calm down space.
  • Share this with parents. If it works in my home, I’m sure it can work in others.
  • PRAISE & SHOUT OUT students who do it well. For real, the first kid I have apologize (in a real situation) with this I give them a big public shout out (with their permission of courses). Then keep the positives going! How powerful would it be to hear in your closing circle, “I want to shout out B for apologizing after our disagreement. It really helped me feel better and helped us solve the problem.”
  • Make it common place. “In this classroom we do 4 part apologizes”. Soon it will become second nature and they won’t even remember how they used to just mumble “sorry” it get it over with.
  • HANG UP A POSTER of the parts! Use the one included in the resource and/or make an anchor chart. I get to the point in the year when a kid starts to apologize without all the parts I just point to the chart. Actually, last year I saw kids pointing to the chart to help other students.

What else?

Obviously the possibilities are endless here. If you use this I would LOVE to hear how about it. Please share how you use the 4 part apology in your class in the comments!! Can’t wait to hear from you.

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Hi, I'm Mona!

I help 1st – 5th grade teachers like you develop a classroom that lays the foundation for engaging and rigorous student led math instruction.

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