At times, students may make comments that undermine others’ right to be safe, strong and free, such as racist, sexist, homophobic or other discriminatory remarks. In a dynamic and passionate discussion, emotions may become heated. In some instances, this may lead to disrespectful exchanges or unconstructive expressions of anger.
When such incidents occur, we can treat them as learning opportunities designed expressly to enable us to promote character development. We can use them to address offensive or disparaging comments and to explore and learn about healthy communication.
We can strive to open up rather than shut down discussion and exchange. We can ask questions designed to increase awareness about the impact of the comment or negative exchange, while remaining sensitive and attentive to the student who instigated it.
"Sounds as though you’re feeling pretty angry. Is there some other way you could tell us about that anger, without hurting or scaring anyone?"