Stealing is common in middle school. Developmentally it is appropriate-because it has an element of risk that doesn’t involve the loss of life or limb. It can also come from being in “lack” circumstances. This year the problem has been (fill in the blank with a word that means really really big). Kids have had to move because of foreclosures or they had homes with amenities one day and go home the next day to find it all gone or shut off. I know because they tell me. Note to parents-kids do know more than you think.
To kind of make them feel comfortable with the stress the tone in my classroom is more familial. My role is an Aunt Jemima that went to Jenny Craig. I have the habits without the hips. We have had cocoa parties, cookie parties, sucker parties and whatever tastes good and will allow for a 10 minute celebration of life. It changed the class to a comfort zone and a source of temporary refuge from the stress outside my classroom doors.
Some yahoo messed with my refuge and went about stealing pencils. One day he/she or it stole 6 pencils. When there is only 13 kids in the classroom that’s a lot. It was a mess. I had to call for backup and get my tall, bald headed, steely blue eyed, non smiling friend to give interrogations to get to the bottom of the issue. We never found the pencil stealer, but it put out the message that stealing is not cool. It was so effective that whenever anybody says they’re missing a pencil everybody, myself included, raises their hands in the air and says to whomever is near them, “It wasn’t me.”
So the stealing for the most part stopped. Then one of them tried stealing my ipod. It was one of those moments in life where I saw the multiple choice options. I could
A. Slap it out of his hand and claim temporary insanity
B. Break out into open prayer (that’s a chapter in my book)
C. Send him to my tall friend
D. Warn him
I chose “D”
Sounding more ghetto that I intended I said, “Yo, that ipod has Christian music. If you take it you will hear God’s voice talking to you in the middle of the night.” He threw the ipod down so hard it turned on and we both laughed about it. Now, I’m thinking about buying pencils with bible verses. I bet you they’d stay in my room the entire school year.
Categories: Teacher Stories
Have them imprinted with “Jesus loves you” or some other catchy bible verse, that way, if they do steal them, they’ll always be reminded of where it came from, and hopefully discourage them from stealing more in the future.
Just a thought. Because when I was a kid and stole a trinket from the store, I grew to despise the trinket, as it was only a reminder to me of what I had done. Later on, I sort of took it back to the store and left it on the shelf.