I was lied to today

I was lied to by a student today. She wanted to use the bathroom and did not have her planner. Our school policy is three passes per student per marking period by signing their planner. She did not have her planner so she gave me someone else’s planner.  There was no name in this planner but I knew it was not hers. I asked her to tell me the truth and admit it was not hers. She lied again and said that it was. I signed and let her go.

While she was gone I found the name page that she had torn out by her desk. When she returned I confronted her about it. I said the name and she realized I had found that page.

So what to do? I could write her up to the office for lying and she might get suspended. I could give her some punishment that I made up. I could get mad and yell at her.

Instead I talked to her. I shamed her. I find shame can be a powerful force with students. I told her she had broken my trust and that from now I could no longer believe her. I told her this was the consequence of her lie-broken trust between us. I would now have to doubt her words to me. She asked if she could gain it back and I said yes, but it would take time. She said she would never lie to me again and meant it. I did one of those what else should you say things and “forced” her to admit what she did and say sorry.

A few minutes later she wrote an apology note to me on the board saying she was truly sorry for the whole class to see. (they had seen and heard the whole exchange already). This was when I knew I had made the right choice. Punishment from the office is never as effective as using relationships. I believe she truly understands the real consequences of lying and will think twice before doing it again. I believe she will never lie to me again and my relationship is stronger with her than before. In my mind she has already re-gained my trust but I will not let her know that yet. I want her to still earn back that trust.

This won’t be on any tests she takes, but in my mind she learned today.

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