Monday, January 30, 2012

Dealing with Children who Try to Plead Innocence

Today, during the after school program, I was sent up to the auditorium. The auditorium is where all the older kids (i.e. 3rd to 5th grade) stay until from 3 to 4 pm. As I enter the auditorium, one of the 3rd graders ask me who the guy on my shirt is. So, I tell him that it's Bruce Lee. Afterward, I go to opposite ends of the auditorium to help some kids with their homework. Why am I telling you all of this? You'll see why this information is relevant.

Now, the kid who asked me about my Bruce Lee shirt goes outside to play. A few minutes later, he comes back in. This is how our conversation played out:

Student A: Mr. Auto? Are you mad at me?

Me:(raise eyebrow) No. Why?

Student A: Well, student X & Y told me that you said to come in because you were annoyed with me.

Me: No way. I didn't say that at all. Hey, actually, do me a favor. Tell students X & Y that I want them to come in here. Thanks.

About 5 minutes pass until students X & Y are waiting for me to talk with them. I talked with them after I finished helping another student with her homework. Afterward, I took students X & Y with me to somewhere more private.

Me: Student A told me that both of you told him to come into the auditorium because I was annoyed with him. Is that true?

Student Y: (appears surprised) No. We never said that. We just said that you said to come in.

Me: Ok. Well, even that's false. I never told him to come in. So, why would you tell him to do that?

Student Y: I thought you said that?

Me: How could you ever have thought that I said that. I never said anything about him coming in. All I did while I was here today was talk about my Bruce Lee shirt and help out two different students with their homework. I'll be honest. I don't believe you. I suspect that both of you are spreading false information. And, I need you to not spread false information. I need you to not spread false information because people act on what they think they know. Do you understand?

Student Y: Yea.

Me: Ok good. Thanks.

In retrospect, one way I could've handled that situation a bit better was by addressing both students. Student X stayed dead quiet. Lucky for her. She didn't have to get directly struck with my accusations.

So, in that situation, although I wasn't in the vicinity of the main event (the spreading of false information), I still accused her. I accused her because again, there is just no way that she could've heard me say that. So, it just gives me the impression that she was making stuff up. I wanted to shut it down. That's why I emphasized that instance. If I had said anything relating to a student coming in or even me being annoyed, I would've hesitated a lot more about responding to the false information that they spread.

On that note, by saying that they are spreading false information, I was being too generous. They were lying. I'm not sure why I didn't just say that. Perhaps I was still leaving myself open to the possibility that they did indeed think that I called student A in. But, the idea that they could've thought that I said that just seems so absurd to me.

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