I'm very sick of vandalism I can't catch

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    One of my pet peeves is vandalism and I don't know who did it.

    I spent quite a bit of money on whiteboard dots that I have all of my periods use, and I found today that someone had taken a ballpoint pen to one of them in the back and completely ruined it. They were about 5 dollars each, so they were not cheap.

    The problem is I don't know who did it. This has been a problem that's always plagued me. Students try to get away with acts of sneak vandalism.

    It's the beginning of the year so we've JUST gone over respect of the materials of others and of the classroom. I have a good guess about which period was the culprit (nobody is even sitting at that spot most periods) but I can't accuse anyone without evidence or proof.

    The teacher next door seems to have ZERO problem with this. At least in his textbooks. He said he doesn't do anything that he can think of to keep vandalism out of his classroom. He doesn't even assign textbooks to specific students. They just respect his materials. I kind of suspect that students simply listen to him more because he's a much older gentleman.

    Has anyone figured out anything that works in their classroom? How should I deal with this tomorrow? I'm thinking I should talk to the students who sit there and ask if the mark was there yesterday when they were in class, to get a better idea of when it showed up, and talking to the period I think has the culprit, and remind them about respect for materials, and inform them that the consequence (if caught) is an immediate conference with parents and compensation for the materials destroyed. But I really need a foolproof way to deal with this... *sigh*
     
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  3. hbcaligirl1985

    hbcaligirl1985 Cohort

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    My concern is that you struggled with classroom management and respect issues all last year. It's the beginning of the year and you're already starting to have issues again? =\
     
  4. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Ugh, I'm sorry Peregrin. I have experienced similar issues, so I feel your pain. I would probably take all of the whiteboard dots down and explain to your students that you won't be decorating the classroom if they can't be respectful.
     
  5. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I don't think it's because he's older. I'm young but I don't have these issues.

    I would recommend constant vigilance. Talk with the kids assigned to sit there.
     
  6. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    My first thought was that it was a symptom of a larger problem as well.
     
  7. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    I'm sorry :( I had something similar happen to me last year except with a student stealing something from another student in my other class (kid a left something in my room, kid b took it). I found out one period later and the next day I had a long talk with the students. It so happened I planned a review game but that class didn't get to play it. My tone and body language told them that it would be a very rough year for them if the item wasnt returned. Eventually the stolen item came back in two days. I gave a negative consequence to the whole class bc I had information that majority of the class knew about it and also, I did not have 100% proof it was one certain student (I later got it). But my point I guess is, take things away from this class, they don't get to enjoy the things your other class gets to. Tell the culprit to come forward or to somehow remedy the situation. Explain to them that you spend your hard earned money, relate it to something they may love (cell phone?). It may or may not work but go in strong and make note to constantly monitor, especially this class. Have other classes let you know if they notice something is ruined this way you can narrow it down. If this class doesn't have assigned seats, assign them and let them know why.

    I don't know your situation from last year but brush up on cm...it can only help :)
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I actually didn't. I've only had a few classroom management problems last year. Nearly all were resolved by the end of the year. The ones that weren't, everyone in the school had the same problem with (i.e. a student who would habitually lie, a student who would habitually steal).
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Maybe it's the school you teach in.

    But the teacher next door doesn't even have any classroom management plan, he just yells at the students who do something bad in his class, he's usually sitting at his computer checking email when there are labs going on. The only difference between us apart from the fact that I have visible management and he doesn't are that he looks old. I think a lot of people here underestimate the power of visual impressions.
     
  10. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I also look incredibly young but I don't have these problems. You can blame it on lots of things but using looking young is just an excuse. Kids have used my personal equipment (cameras, laptops, artifacts, etc.) for years and I've never had a problem. I do have the occasional writing in a textbook but rarely.

    It sounds to me like you're talking down to them. They are 8th graders, do they really need the respect talk again? At that age they are going to rebel when they feel you don't respect them. I could be way off base of course knowing only your short explanation but that would be my guess. Turn it around on them and make it about responsibility. As was said by others, if they can't be responsible - take it away.
     
  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Again, my classroom management isn't bad. In fact I've been told by administrators and teachers visiting that I have some of the best CM in the school. I've been told by students about how much more controlled and calm my classroom was than other teachers they've had.

    Misbehavior doesn't overtly happen during class, and I think this might be what is part of the the larger problem you're speaking about. What I can think of is that because I have so much control over my class, these students who would normally be blurting and disrupting other classes have no outlet but to 'sneak attack' and get their frustrations out by vandalizing my materials when I'm not looking.
     
  12. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Good points, all. I do my best to treat every student with respect, but I also have hard lines in my classroom. I'll think about what I say to them.

    However again I think you are underestimating the power of visual impressions. If you are a young teacher in a school full of young teachers, it doesn't make much of a difference. If you are a young teacher in a school where every other teacher is at least 30 years older than you, then it is going to make a difference.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I think you are underestimating the ability of young teachers to successfully manage students.


    Peregrine...you did post many times last school year about kids' behaviors, not seeing what was happening, issues with other 'vandalism' incidents. These things need to be prevented and occasional disruptions need to be handled quickly.
     
  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Just because I post about the things I would like help and advice with doesn't mean that I have poor classroom management.

    I think you are underestimating the ability of my classroom management.

    If I had thought that posting about the few issues I had last year to get advice would mean that I would be forever seen as a horrible teacher then I wouldn't have posted about it, but I thought this was an open community.

    I'm sure that all of you posting about my management here on this thread never had a single issue last year right? Everything was peachy keen? I'm really getting sick of the judgmental bs that goes on in this forum with a few members thinking that they're the cream of the crop.

    I mean I post a thread asking for advice about what to do about a particular issue that I'm certain other people struggle with as well, and the only response I get is "you must have horrible classroom management" even though I've been told otherwise by pretty much every other person in my life. I mean gosh, that's a strategy I can really use! Thanks guys!

    But of course you're on the internet and you know everything about everyone's situation.

    Get over yourself.
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I don't think anyone is thinking you aren't a good teacher and you have been given good advice about handling the issues for which you have sought help. No one claims to have all the answers, but many here do have experience from which they draw in offering advice. Hopefully, the advice given for your experiences last year with student vandalism, academic dishonesty, difficult parents and other distractions have given you more strategies in dealing with similar occurrences this year. Do what you can ahead though to set up classroom layout, procedures, code of conduct and consequences to proactively avoid misbehaviors. Good luck to you.
     
  16. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    I'd have to disagree, maybe two people had only that as their comment but you have been given advice from various posters, even czacza was offering you advice, good advice, to help prevent this from happening again but you only seem to focus on the "negatives". It's a vicious cycle
     
  17. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Just to defend Peregrin a little bit, the first response was a little unnecessary and non-constructive and it could easily put someone on the defensive for the rest of the thread. This forum can be a little judgey sometimes and being a newer teacher is stressful. There's no point in telling someone their classroom management is poor when they're already asking for advice. Let's all take it down a notch.

    Anyway, I HATE punishments for whole groups when only one person is guilty, but sometimes I think there's no other alternative if you can't catch the person. If you don't end up finding out who's doing it, I would take them away (I'm assuming they're something on the "fun" side) from the whole class for a period of time. There will always be at least one kid who just doesn't think or care, but hopefully if the whole class knows they will face some kind of consequence, they will keep one another in check. That said, I am no expert in HS-aged classroom management.

    NYteacher also posted some great suggestions that might have been overlooked.
     
  18. RadiantBerg

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    To be honest, I don't know what a whiteboard dot is, but could they be "assigned"? For instance, my calculators are numbered and so are my desks in my classroom. Each student is to use the calculator corresponding to the desk number. This way it narrows the field a lot if a calculator is damaged. Besides that, it is preventative in nature. It makes the student feel accountable and less likely to do something stupid to it.
     
  19. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Apologies for blowing up there czacza, I guess it's just something that I've been feeling about this forum that's been building up for quite some time.

    Anyway if you're talking about rules, procedures, codes of conduct, seating arrangements, I've had all that for the past two years. I can send it to you for proof if you wish.

    nyteacher: I apologize, I did miss your previous post. I did question the students who sit at that desk, and I thought it would narrow down the results, but it actually confused me further. I did mention to the students at that group that I purchased these with my own money, that I take vandalism very seriously, and if I see someone damaging my property, I would notify their parents for a conference about how to remedy the situation.

    Radiantberg: They're stuck to the desks, so they kind of are assigned. Also only 2 periods out of my 5 use that desk. I talked to both, plus one period for which I had suspicions. I was very careful to not accuse anyone without proof, but expressed disappointment that it had happened and reminded them of what the consequence would be if I saw it happening.

    Thanks Bison, I really appreciate it. And I was wrong to let it all loose like that.
     
  20. RadiantBerg

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    Did you let them know that they are the only ones who sit there---put the pressure on them? Maybe they assume the desk is used all day.
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It's clear you are frustrated, Peregrine, as anyone would be. :( sorry this happened to you. At this point there's not much else you can do unless someone comes forward with the truth.
     
  22. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I did mention that they are the only ones that sat there, however the pressure I used was very indirect. It was mostly just an attitude of disappointment that someone would do that in my class especially since we value respecting each others' materials. I don't think I can get a definite culprit for this case, but I check the dots each period for their learning logs. I will make sure to make note of their condition each period. That will really narrow things down if it happens again.
     
  23. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    Attribution theory:

    When people are in difficult situations, they're much more likely to blame something out of their control for the situation instead of factors that are within their locus of control.

    Ironically, when someone else is in a difficult situation and you're looking in, you're more likely to blame the difficulty on something within the other person's control instead of factors that are out of their control.
     
  24. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Something very concrete:

    Could you hand out the pens, individually, and collect them the same way?

    Of course, you would need something important for the kids to be doing as you were handing them out and collecting them. .. maybe starting homework on one end and checking answers on the other???But if you hand each kid a clean pen, and he knows he's going to have to hand a clean pen back, then I imagine he would hesitate before vandalizing it.

    i'm not sure you'll determine who did it last time, but it might prevent it from happening again.
     
  25. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Unfortunately Alice is probably right. I doubt you'll find out who did it. I think checking them after each class is a great idea. Note any issues you have. Even checking during class if you have a minute is a good idea. I made a statement about my white boards that they are a privilege not a right. If one student abuses it, all will lose. The good kids help keep some of the others in check. But mine are collected as soon as we're done with them. They have less opportunity for sure.
     
  26. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I'm sorry about all this. The issues in the classroom, but also about some of the posts. I agree, when someone posts about an issue, the last thing they need is to someone point out the problems they may have had in the past.

    But anyways.
    I don't really have any advice, but here are some of my thoughts.
    - preventing things from happening is the best strategy. So maybe you could think of a way that things are collected at the end of class, so that if something happens in that period, you'll know it right away?

    - I don't know about all the student populations and schools, but with our students the 'code of silence' is stronger than anything else. They don't snitch. They very few students who would dare to tell who did what are running the chance if being labeled as a snitch and face big problems from the other students. So I never even look for a class / students tell me who did what. Punishing the class wouldn't help, they'd just resent me for it.

    - I think if you make a big deal out of something, then it becomes an even bigger deal and they'll tend to continue to happen. I know these whiteboard dots (whatever they are, I actually don't know) were expensive, but it you make a big deal out of it, some students might continue just to see if they can make you mad. You know, middle / high schoolers love to annoy their teachers, it's fun.
    So maybe have a talk with them about this, take these items away and don't use them. Let them know how disappointing this is, but this way at least you've learned that they shouldn't be using fun things, they just have to do things the old fashioned way. Make sure the other classes will somehow tell them about the fun materials they're using (students talk)


    This is how I handled something last year:
    - I bought the students folders. At $.50 / piece, I spent about $50, and it had to be from my own pocket. I asked them not to write on them (I was going to use them again next year, we also have a high turnover, students get locked up, won't see them again, so that folder would go to a new student).
    Well, most of them listened, but some started actually decorating it. The few that just wrote on it, I asked them to erase. But the decorations were too big. I did let them know that I asked them not to do this, so they're going against me, but then just casually told them to pay me the $.50 and then I won't care what they do with it.
    It was funny, lighthearted, I wasn't flipping out, and some people actually paid me. (we're talking $3-4 total). Yes, I was accepting money from them, but I spent an average of $25-30 / month on snacks and games on them, so I wasn't feeling bad.
    The writing stopped, and I was able to reuse most of the folders, I spent maybe $5 for this year.
    I think if I would have made a big deal, and started to go in punishment mode, they would've enjoyed it. After all I decided to have folders, I spent my own money, I was running the risk of having them destroyed.
     
  27. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Likewise, at least with that particular class, individually hand out and collect anything of value--- textbooks, calculator, whatever. Even have them numbered and signed in and out. Be proactive-- give some thought to the value of anything you hand out, and how to ensure it comes back in the same condition.

    As someone else mentioned, the trick is to prevent the problems. And with some groups, you really have to put some thought into what could potentially go wrong.

    As I recall, you teach science? Give lots of thought to labs-- to what a kid looking for trouble, or one not paying attention, could possibly do, either to misuse the equipment or to cause a dangerous situation.
     
  28. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Yes, definitely think like a misbehaving teenager! I think I'm better at that this year. Not perfect but I'm catching on fast! It does prevent many problems!
     
  29. muinteoir

    muinteoir Companion

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    Number everything. Assign a number to a kid. If there is damage, they are responsible.
     
  30. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    And then continue to keep an eye on them. Don't let one kid "borrow" (or simply grab) another kid's supplies and destroy them. Make sure that each kid gets the appropriate number.. that's kind of why I think simply handing them out will probably be easier.
     
  31. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    When I had a tagging issue in juvie, I told the kids that as soon as they get in, before they get a pencil, if there is any writing on the desk they have to tell me, otherwise I'll assume it's them. "Don't tell me halfway through the class 'Miss, there is tagging on this desk', because I wouldn't know if it was you or someone else".

    Of course I would have to check the desks myself, but I also held the student accountable. They didn't want to get in trouble for someone else's actions? -> they need to look out for themselves.
    No problems after then.
     
  32. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Of course no matter how proactive you are, no matter how much planning you do to prevent problems, there are always challenges. That is really what makes teaching so interesting, at least to me!

    I had an issue with students not taking proper care of a fun learning game that had many tiles with it. Looking back, I really appreciated the way I handled it. (Can't say that with everything, but this turned out well).

    I didn't blame anyone or show any signs of anger. I just said, "Hmm, looks like you guys can't handle playing this right now." I gathered up the materials to a hushed silence and put the game in my teacher bag to take home, never to bring back in again, lol.

    And I wasn't angry. Maybe this is not the right way to look at it, but I always think, what would I do if a 2 year old did this? Would I get mad? No, I would just take the game away and wait for the child to get older and more mature, better able to handle it. This attitude on my part is what enables me to keep on an even keel with the students.

    I know others would say, but you aren't dealing with 2 year olds. These children should know better.

    But clearly they don't. So either I need to teach them how to be responsible, or I have to accept that they are not.
     
  33. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    :yeahthat:

    Over the years, I've had no problems with vandalism. And yet, yesterday, on the FIRST day of school...I asked a young man not to eat in my class when I saw him pull out some Little Debbie snackcakes. He said "Sure, no problem!" with a smile on his face. About 20 minutes later, as the classes changed, I saw that he had SMASHED the snackcakes into the metal tray under my back whiteboard and left the trash crumpled on there for extra effect.

    Seriously? Literally the first moment I met you and this is your response to a very nice, very quiet request not to eat? Ok, now I know what I'm dealing with.

    I'll discuss it with him when I see him tomorrow, but he'll deny it and we'll be stuck because I have no proof it was him, so I'll have to let it go.

    So sometimes, it doesn't matter how good your classes are, how consistent your cm is... sometimes it happens anyway. :(
     
  34. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Granted.

    But he would find himself sitting front and center,without a class of kids to hide behind.
     
  35. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    How many other kids did you see with snackcakes in your class? This isn't a police investigation...
     
  36. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Sadly, he already is! He was a problem for a teacher last year, so I thought I was being proactive by placing him front and center. All I can figure is that he must have done it quickly while we were clearing down for the day and a security guard came to the door with a question. Those are always the most frustrating, when you can't even figure out WHEN the student was able to do it. :p
     
  37. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    It can be at my school. Especially the first week, I wouldn't get a lot of support downstairs if I tried to write this up. It'll just have to be a "life lesson" to me not to let this kid out of my sight and it'll be documented for next time he pulls something.
     
  38. Jem

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    I teach upper elementary, but I assign numbers. Even if the kids were rotating through my classroom, I'd have everything numbered. Then at least I would know the specific students would would have touched the white board. This also gives them a feeling of responsibility for their items.
     
  39. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    "Was asked to put away snack cake, then smashed it against school property when my back was turned. Please discuss poor life choices with student."
     
  40. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Not everyone's school functions the same and I DIDN'T see it, so that wouldn't be a complete truth. Plus, to be honest, I find that last sentence inflammatory.

    I was commiserating with the OP; I'm perfectly comfortable with the way I handle my classroom. But thanks for the advice. :)
     
  41. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    If you didn't send it "downstairs," how is it documented?
     

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