I Think A Student Stole From Me

Discussion in 'General Education' started by mazzystar, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. mazzystar

    mazzystar Rookie

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    Dec 21, 2013

    I'm a first year teacher and I teach seventh grade. On the last day before winter break, one of my students decided to give everyone a gift bag with chips and candy. She gave one to me also and I left it on my desk.

    There are a couple of students who give me trouble everyday and this day was no different. When I was in the back of the room I noticed them at my desk and immediately told them to get away.

    When I was leaving for the day I noticed that the bag was gone. It's not that I really wanted the chips and candy, I just am upset that they feel they could take something from me.

    I would like to address this when we come back and I would like some advice. I won't be able to prove that they did it, but I feel it should be addressed in some way.
     
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  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 21, 2013

    I would let it go. By the time you come back from break it will have been 3 weeks that the items were stolen. You don't know who did it, so you can't talk to a specific child, you just basically tell everyone that one of them did it. Nothing good will come from it, because no one will fess up, you telling them that it's not ok makes sense, but I don't think that message will stick. And it's just not a good way to start the new year.

    My advice is this:
    - make it clear that students cannot go near your desk and especially cannot touch anything on it
    - make sure you don't have anything in the room that is reachable for them to take. If you must, lock it in your desk or filing cabinet.
     
  4. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Dec 21, 2013

    This. I would also let it go since it is only food and you cannot prove anything. When you are unsure about who stole something from you, the best you can do is make a general statement or warning - unless it is something major like your phone or keys (which actually happened to my co-worker last year).

    I would be careful about falsely accusing a child about stealing, especially if they are little.
     
  5. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Dec 21, 2013

    I would talk to that particular group of students privately after break. Let them know that something was missing from your desk, and that you noticed they were way too close to your private area. Make it clear that you are not accusing them of anything, but that because this happened, you will no longer trust students who get too close. They'll get the point. Sorry this happened, but it happens to most teachers at some point.
     
  6. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Dec 21, 2013

    OK, I had to laugh when I read that part! I know you won't word it in that exact way, but I agree that if you saw the two students, then address them upon returning...whether you actually saw them take the bag or not.

    I tell you between this thread & the other one, teachers need hidden cameras in their rooms these days!
     
  7. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Dec 22, 2013

    I disagree with the posters who said you should let it go. Letting it go means that you don't find the action of stealing a big deal,especially since these are 7th graders. As a 5th grade teacher, I have pencils, pens and other items stolen from my desk occasionally. I always address the entire class on my feelings of stealing, and taking others' property without permission. I also let them know the consequence if they are caught. I do this regardless of the time that has passed.
     
  8. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Dec 22, 2013

    Letting it go means it was three weeks ago, and you may not have even noticed because it was a bag of chips. I don't think any 7th grader is going to take this as an exhortation to steal.
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Dec 22, 2013

    Although it was probably stolen, it might not have been. I once thought something was stolen from my desk, and I found that I accidentally had placed something over it. How embarrassing it would have been if I would have told the class how disappointed I was that someone stole from me.

    I think this one you should let go. It does give you a warning that you might have someone who steals from your room.

    If you really don't want to let it go, then I would do the following:

    Tell the students you had an item stolen from your desk on the last day before break. Give each student a piece of paper and ask them to write down what they know about this. Also, let them know this is the chance to come clean and admit they took it before they get in trouble for it. Those who don't know anything about it, just write "I don't know" on the paper. No one has to put their name on the paper, and only you will read them. This has helped me in situations such as you are in.
     
  10. mazzystar

    mazzystar Rookie

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    Dec 22, 2013

    Thanks for all the comments. I will go over my expectations and rules and include something about my desk being off-limits.
     
  11. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Dec 22, 2013

    Letting it go does not mean that you don't address it, but it means there is no need to try to open a full on investigation when you have no proof.

    Once again, I advise teachers against accusing individual students of stealing if you have no proof - especially if they are little. This happened with a 6th grader a few years and my co-workers and it was a MESS.
     
  12. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Dec 22, 2013

    Maybe not to you, but in my experience, students who stole in my classroom continued to make poor choices throughout the remainder of their school years. The most prominent and recent examples: a student used to steal my pencils and other classmates pencils. At 18, he held up a restaurant at gunpoint. He is serving 25 years in prison. Another student used to steal items from my colleague. He was recently arrested for selling drugs at a rehabilitation center.
    Letting it go means letting it go, period. And the OP DID notice, and it was the day before a two week winter break.
     
  13. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Dec 22, 2013

    If you read my response, I never said to have a full on investigation. I said that the OP should still address the issue of stealing. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Is your argument that addressing the issue, two weeks after it happens, will turn this little heathen from his certain life of crime?

    I'm relatively certain that most people stole something in their childhood. Most people probably stole something and weren't caught; do most people end up in prison?
     
  15. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 22, 2013

    I think the main point here is that between the day of the incident and the first possible addressing it there will be 3 weeks - too much!
    If the teacher could have addressed it the same day, the next day, or Monday if it happened on a Friday, good. Otherwise, just let it go. Especially since it was over a bag of chips.
     
  16. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Dec 22, 2013

    Exactly.
     
  17. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    Dec 23, 2013

    I'd bring the subject up generally and have a discussion about honesty and integrity with your class. You don't have to mention the bag incident. These themes come up in literature, history, and current events - use an example. You can also discuss consequences for adults and children - related to actions or lack of action. Doing or not doing the right thing.
    I have zero tolerance for dishonesty in my class. Of course we teach children who are learning to do the right thing and sometimes stealing happens. To do nothing and let it go means that stealing in your class is tolerated (put up with). Say something generally and you'll let the thieves know that you know. It might not change their behavior but it will help create an environment of honesty and integrity in your classroom. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach something outside of how to right a paragraph. Go with it.
     
  18. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Dec 23, 2013

    It's extremely unwise to leave tempting things on your desk. A colleague left his ipod on his desk and at by the end of the day it was gone. I always keep any valuables locked up. Unfortunately, that sometimes means I forget to take them out of the safe at the end of the day.
     
  19. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Dec 23, 2013

    I had a student last year who would steal lab materials, including expensive items. I knew exactly who did it, but he was good at what he did so he would pass off the items to his friends before we took him in, and so had no evidence. He knew I knew, and I had addressed stealing with him and the entire class multiple times, but it kept happening because he could get away with it.

    There was nothing I could do about that student but to be proactive. Ensure that you have everything in your classroom before the students leave for the day.

    Put everything valuable into your desk drawers or even in a locked drawer.

    Put your desk in a place that isn't easily accessible by students and that it would be very obvious if students are hanging around your desk and stay on top of keeping them away from it.

    Middle schoolers are at the age where they love experimenting with theft.
     
  20. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    My argument was for the OP to address the issue-with the whole class- when he/she returns from break. Will all thieves end up in prison? Nope.
     
  21. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Dec 23, 2013

    I'd certainly address it in a general way (something was stolen off my desk, my desk is off-limits, etc), but I wouldn't make a big production out of it. I WOULD make a big issue out of any students going forward that I see at my desk without permission though.
     

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