You probably have had it happen to you, as well.
What do YOU do about it … particularly when you don't know who the student is?
Odds are, you probably have a guess, but what usually happens with students that get into this bad habit, is that they're pretty sneaky about it. As a teacher who tries to instill good character qualities, you probably feel at a loss, and might even get frustrated.
Therefore, I came up with a strategy to help teach integrity.
Since I already have a classroom token economy system up and running early on in the school year, and the value of the "classroom dollar" is at a premium, I simply use this to my advantage when trying to find out who the culprit is (and to ultimately put a stop to it immediately).
Here's the TEN-STEP process that I use that has worked very effectively (usually about day 30 of the school year, when all of the students start to feel comfortable with the system).
1. During a lesson while all of the students are sitting, I kneel down at each of my 4 tables and "accidentally" drop a higher level classroom bill (maybe a twenty or a fifty) without any of the students seeing.
2. I then go back to my original spot, and just watch (without them realizing I'm trying to find out who the culprit is).
3. What happens next, is absolutely amazing. I have NEVER had all 4 bills returned to me (you would think that at least ONCE it would happen, right?!?!?!)
4. The average amount that are returned over the years… three out of the four.
5. I usually can spot who the "stealer" is … because they're like a hawk ... they swoop down, and take what they want (without me or anyone else seeing)… and they subtly put it in their pocket, or into their folder, like it's their money all along. I assume that this happens more often throughout the day for other valuables, but I'm just simply not aware that it's going on, and they definitely take advantage.
6. The 3 students that find the "planted" money… return it almost immediately, and I thank them profusely at the time.
7. We immediately have a classroom discussion once this process is over (which literally takes all of about 2 minutes). Remember from one of my earlier posts, we remember 70% of what we discuss. Therefore, I pull out a book about integrity, about finding things that aren't theirs, and doing "the right thing" and then have a discussion.
8. My focus during the discussion period is about how I had 4 ten dollar bills that I lost recently, and just wanted to verbally acknowledge (with no reward) how proud I was of the 3 students that turned in the money… and then I say that there still is a 4th one out there… and that if that person could just return it at a later time, then that would be all right. Immediately, I continue on with my lesson that I originally started with, and give it time, because I essentially know who the "stealer" NOW is, and watch how they respond to this dilemma that they are facing inside.
9. Usually, about 90% of the time, the person who didn't return it, eventually comes over to me privately and returns the money. We have a good discussion about the word integrity, and how important trust is in our class. They usually apologize, and I always forgive them (because we all make mistakes).
10. After I go through the previous nine steps… the problem of stealing (overall) in our classroom, is usually solved, and I have taught them all a very valuable LIFE LONG lesson about doing the right thing.
How powerful is THAT?
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