Talking about theft and trust....m

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by SueCasa, Dec 11, 2008.

  1. SueCasa

    SueCasa Rookie

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    Dec 11, 2008

    I am a frequent lurker and need some advice. I teach 8th grade Language Arts in a low income, highly diverse middle school in Southern California.

    I confiscated a student's PSP at the beginning of class today and put it in my far desk drawer. There was a lot of activity in the class as students were asking what work they're missing, what their current grade is, etc. as our semester ends next week. At some point, a student opened my desk drawer and took the PSP. My desk area is off limits; however, it must have been taken when I was across the room helping other students. The theft wasn't discovered until the students left for lunch. None of my personal things were touched, just the PSP.

    The student learned a tough lesson that electronics should not be brought to school and I learned that I can't trust this class which really makes me sad. This isn't the first time something was taken but that item was returned to me. How should I handle the class when they arrive tomorrow? Are there resources where I can find a PowerPoint or some type of lesson?

    I'm losing hope in this generation as they think nothing of taking someone else's things as "they left it on their desk so I didn't think they wanted it" is a normal attitude. :(

    I appreciate your help and advice.

    Sue :thanks:
     
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  3. Lives4Math

    Lives4Math Comrade

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    Dec 12, 2008

    If you find anything let me know!!! I have had numerous things stolen from my classroom this year starting with my digital camera and being as "stupid" as chalk and a 99 cent pencil sharpener. I can't keep anything!!
     
  4. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Dec 12, 2008

    You could do what I did. I went in one weekend last year and stripped everything from my classroom...and I mean EVERYTHING. I took everything off the walls, out of my desk, off my desk, out of the filing cabinets and off the bookcases. I stored the desks in the cafeteria (it was a lot of work). When the students came in, I told them that if they couldn't repsect other people's belongings, then they couldn't have anything. I had my desk, my chair and a single dry erase marker. The weren't happy. They thought sitting on the floor was nasty, but found it hard to do their work while standing. They also realized how hard it was to do their work without the references on the walls and how boring things were with no decorative stuff. Those students who weren't prepared realized how much stuff I kept for their benefit, as I didn't have paper and pencils and pencil sharpeners for them to use. If they weren't able to do the work, it was a zero for the day. I kept this up for all of my classes that day. They learned their lesson. While it didn't solve the problem completely, it went a LONG way in teaching them a lesson.
     
  5. Ross

    Ross Comrade

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    Dec 14, 2008

    Hurray for you mmswm!!!

    How was the valuable and memorable lesson received by administration and parents? Since you are still here, I suppose there were no objections.

    Was it effective enough that others can try a similar solution?
     
  6. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Dec 14, 2008

    There were some objections, but my P was totally behind me. I had cleared it with her prior to doing it. It had an effect. They are, by no means perfect, but it made them think about things when it was them loosing out. I think they'd never really been faced with the issue in such a dramatic fashion. They'd never realized how much they are given by the school and the teachers, and what life would be like without those things. There was a noticable decline in theft and vandalism, at least on school grounds. It's inching its way back up again,but those students who were in my classes last year are around to keep others in check. It's not as cool anymore to "diss" other people's stuff, in their words.
     
  7. Camel & Walrus

    Camel & Walrus Rookie

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    Jan 21, 2009

    If you are going to confiscate something with such a high market value I think its fairly irresponsible just to leave it unmonitored.

    Most of my students would have stolen it - not because they take everything that isn't nailed down - but because they would understand the value of it, likely not like the original owner, and succumb to a crime of opportunity like many people.
     
  8. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Jan 21, 2009

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with Camel & Walrus. The student may argue that you've been negligent in your duty of care towards a confiscated item. Since it was in an unlocked drawer, when you've had items stolen before, it's a fairly strong argument.

    If you haven't already, you should report the theft to administration. They should have a confiscation policy in place which should address handling procedures and what happens in the case of loss.*




    * Yes, I know it's not grammatically correct to have two "shoulds" there. It's to emphasize that it's very possible there's no confiscation policy, and if there is it may not be specific about procedures.
     
  9. Dawnathome

    Dawnathome Rookie

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    Jan 21, 2009

    I agree.

    Responsibility really starts with the teacher/role model and I think that if you expect it from the kids you should examine your own role in the matter. I think an apology to the student would be a start and maybe an offer to make amends. Certainly he played his own part but losing an expensive piece of electronics isn't a reasonable consequence for his actions.

    Anyhow, good luck. This is a tough spot to be in.
     
  10. CareerChanger

    CareerChanger Rookie

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    Mar 1, 2009

    I also teach math in a low income, diverse, middle school. The classes are large and can be chaotic, some of the students have little or no respect for personal property or teachers - so I have great sympathy for SueCasa. I confiscated a cell phone this year only to have it stolen by another student. I had put it under my overhead, as I was in the middle of instruction, and as the students left the room, one took it. I was horrified... but I called in all of the suspect students from their classes (you usually have an idea of who might have done it) and asked them individually if they knew where the phone was. One of the students told me who took the phone. The phone was returned and the student suspended. After that event, when I confiscate something, I put it in my pocket and keep it until the end of the period, when I then take it to the office.

    My classroom has no locked storage space at all (my desk does not lock, none of the cabinets lock). I also keep my wallet and personal items in my car. I keep my own phone in my pocket. The kids have stolen everything from pencils, papers, to the light switch cover on the wall and my lunch (I kid you not). I used to be shocked by it, now I just feel numb about it. Not sure if it is the middle school age group, the socio-economics, or just this school's culture but I am looking for a different position next year.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 1, 2009

    :agreed:

    At my school, if we confiscate anything from a student, we assume responsibility for it. We are told not to store confiscated items anywhere but in a locked space and to turn them in to the office as soon as we have a minute to run them up.
     
  12. tiredteacher

    tiredteacher Rookie

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    Mar 4, 2009

    If I confiscate anything I keep it with me until I can take it to the office. We have to fill out a slip stating who I took it from, the description of the item, date I took it, I rubber band it and take it to the office.
     
  13. azure

    azure Companion

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    Mar 4, 2009

    Are you sure it wasn't the student from whom you took it?
     
  14. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Mar 5, 2009

    I was wondering that too.
     
  15. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Mar 5, 2009

    After 34 years in the classroom I confiscated about 3 electronics devices a year About 4 were "lost" before they were returned it was tough luck for those 4 kids.
    You have to think what would a reasonable person do ? Put in the desk! Can you really foresee a student going into your desk invading your personal space? :2cents:
     
  16. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Mar 6, 2009

    Personally, I see it as tough luck. What if you didn't have anywhere to store it? I know in my classroom there's no locked storage areas as my desk in down the hall in the dept. room. So naturally I would have put it in my desk as well.

    But, of course, you should be careful as parents can become very angry, very fast over stuff like this.
     

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