This post was inspired by my mother and the post Helping Students Navigating the Torrents of Change at Cool Cat Teacher.
The other day while we were driving in the car, my mom made the statement that she wouldn't have wanted to protect her children from all of the hard things they have gone through in life. Not that she would ever wish any pain on us, but that she knew the importance of letting us make our own mistakes, deal with our own challenges, and find our own way when the situation called for it. The truth is, if you spend every moment holding your child's hand and protecting them from "danger", they will never learn to fend for themselves, never learn any coping mechanisms, and never understand how to deal when they find themselves confronted with the real world.
The same thing works for school and the classroom. In fact, in a society where the role of teacher is an ever blurring line which takes on the function on parent more and more, many of the same attributes apply. I find it very tempting to hold my students hands when times get tough. I also find it almost impossible not to make exceptions for good kids who have a bad day.
I have found, however, that there is something to be said for consistency. Students who know the rules and what is expected of them will learn to accept responsibility for consequences and will rarely have that bad day again. Failing is a part of life. Making mistakes is a part of life. Not allowing our students to do either of those things is crippling them and giving them false expectation for their future. We need to instead be teaching them strong lessons and equipping them with the tools in their arsenals to rise again after failure, mistakes, or simple life unfairness have dealt them a low blow.