Week 23 - ForgivenessBy Jeff Bryan
Forgiveness has helped my leadership by maintaining perspective. No one accomplishment defines you, and no one mistake defines you!
-Principal Michael Mitchell
For an overview of each weekly slide presentation, please skip below to your specific grade level.
To see the 1-page Forgiveness Character Card and share it with your students’ families, click here.
For the P2 Reflection Journals, used by all elementary students at the end of the week, click here.
Forgiveness means that you forgive those who have done wrong. You accept that people make mistakes. It is the ability to move past being injured, and allow yourself to reconcile with the person who hurt you. Forgiveness can often be seen as a selfless act, but it also carries many benefits for those who practice it. Those who demonstrate forgiveness have the ability to move forward after someone has hurt them. Forgiveness is often rooted in the idea that all people are valuable and worthy of a second chance. Many who forgive have the ability to consider things from another’s perspective.
Forgiveness does not mean rolling over and allowing yourself to be harmed. It does not mean that you forget the transgression. By forgiving someone, you don’t have to say that what he/she did was okay. And, forgiveness is not contingent on the other person apologizing.
This week’s example is Michael Mitchell, the principal of Cairo-Durham Middle School in upstate New York. Principal Mitchell’s top character strength is forgiveness — and it’s something that he uses daily as a leader. He explains that it helps him remember that everyone makes mistakes — including himself. This has helped his life both personally and professionally.
As he explains, “As a building leader and a middle school principal, it is important for me to lead by example. I am very transparent with my students and let them know I make many mistakes on a daily basis. Mistakes are our greatest teachers. You will learn through the experience, and also by seeking help from others on how to rectify your mistake. Having the ability to forgive yourself and others when mistakes happen will promote growth, change, and success!” To read my short interview with Principal Mitchell, click here. And, to see Cairo-Durham Middle School’s journey as a first-year Partner School, check out the video below.
So, why does forgiveness matter?
For individuals, forgiveness has benefits that range from increased health to developing positive relationships to coming to an understanding that no one is without fault. Remaining bitter and angry increases your stress levels, and forgiveness helps an individual release that resentment, and repair or strengthen his/her relationships.
The ability to reconcile differences and move forward positively is a trait of any effective group. When people work together, conflict is inevitable. However, when people value each other’s contribution and believe in the group’s goal, they become more capable of moving past conflict and toward genuinely positive behavior. A group member’s willingness to forgive imperfections of both other members and the group as a whole contribute to overall success.
To understand why Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Karen Swartz says forgiveness calms stress levels and improves health — and how you can bring more forgiveness into your life, even if it’s not your natural inclination, check out this article. And to read Dr. Swartz’ responses to common questions about forgiveness, check out this article.
Dr. Swartz answers the question of “Are some things simply unforgivable?” with the answer, “There are some things that are simply too horrible to forgive and to forget—like violence against a child, abuse. But I think there’s a big difference between seeing things as forgivable and having it be the consuming factor in your life. Forgiveness does not always include reconciliation, and having a relationship with someone in the future is about whether they are reliable and dependable and trustworthy, and sometimes you’ve broken trust in a way that you can never have a relationship again.”
And, as a reminder, you can find all of our weekly slide presentations on our website’s Resources page here. This page is the place that we recommend you go to access all of the resources — not via Google Drive folders.
To find your grade level’s presentation, you can simply type the words “forgiveness” into the Resource Title search bar or sort by Character Strength and select Forgiveness. Each of those options will provide you with 10 slide presentations and one 1-page character card. For a simple overview of the Resources page, with pictures and videos, click here.