Biographical Non-Fiction posted May 5, 2022

This work has reached the exceptional level
I was embarrassed ...

Sorry ... my mistake!

by Wendy G

The classroom was colourful and interesting.

I wanted my home room to convey a feeling to students that they had been transported to France, with posters and displays that would help to make language learning a fun and immersive experience.

Many hours were spent preparing a different display for each week. These would prompt questions and lead to wonderful discussions on culture – people and places, customs, and foods, music … and fascinating stories of my time living in France.

If we spent too long with our culture component, the students would promise faithfully to work super hard in the following lessons to make up time, and master the intricacies and complexities of understanding and speaking French, along with reading and writing it. And they kept their word.

However … at certain times, other classes shared my room.

I started to notice that my displays were not as I had left them - I would put things back in order, time and again. 

The following week a similar situation would arise. Some posters of France would be turned upside down. I spent time fixing everything but grew increasingly frustrated. It was a small thing, a harmless prank – yet annoying for me.

When after three weeks, all the posters on the back wall were turned upside-down, I decided that enough was enough. This time I would not let it pass. I checked the timetable to see which class had been scheduled to be in my room during the lesson before lunch, and identified the culprits.

I knocked on the door of the room where they were having their next lesson and asked to speak to the class.

"I know you didn't mean any harm, turning all my posters upside down," I began, "but I spend a lot of time fixing my displays again! Enough is enough! So please don't do it anymore!"

They could see my distress and frustration. A hand went up.

"But Mrs G … we didn't do it! We weren't in your room! We have been rescheduled to do practical Physical Education for the last three weeks, so we've been out on the sports fields. It's another class in your room at those times!"

But … teachers are always right – aren't they?

And teachers don't like to lose face in front of thirty teenagers!

I gasped. "Are you sure?" I double checked, trying to determine their sincerity.

"No, Mrs G, definitely not us!" Several students echoed their response.

"Then I am very sorry! I should have double-checked. I sincerely apologise to each of you!"

The students sat stunned. Teachers never apologised to teenagers!

Teachers would normally go off in a huff, angry at having made a mistake. However, I felt an apology was necessary.

"Mrs G … no teacher has ever apologised to us for anything! Ever! And we would never do that to you! We know how hard you work. And don't worry! Leave it to us. It won't happen again!"

I repeated my apology, and left, my face red with embarrassment and distress. Yes, I had made a mistake; yes, I was upset, and annoyed with myself.

But the private detectives went to work. It never happened again.

Non-Fiction Writing Contest contest entry


It's not dramatic, just a little memoir - but such incidents bring lessons which can powerfully impact lives.
This episode was meaningful to me, because I firmly believe that adults need to treat every person with respect, whether adult, teenager or child - and if an apology is needed it should be offered. We all make mistakes.
The students were happy to receive my apology and accept it with grace, and if anything it increased their respect for me, (despite my mistake, and false accusation) and mine for them.
Not everyone is willing to graciously accept an apology. Many will harbour a grudge forever. Not these teenagers.
We all learned something through the experience. Be slow to judge, slow to accuse, quick to apologise where necessary, quick to offer acceptance and grace. Relationships are then strengthened, not damaged. Win-win!
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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