(A post for newbies.)
With luck, you can lock your desk drawers. I think I had one key for one desk in the last ten years, though. Those keys get lost and school districts don’t often have money for more desks. I hardly ever had closet keys. Last year, I got by with padlocks and chains.
If you can’t lock up all your important supplies, yelp and keep yelping. Turn in whatever forms your district requires. Follow up on those forms. In the meantime, find functional chains and padlocks. Talk to security. If all else fails, talk to your Principal. (Don’t bother your Principal, however.) I finally got a key to lock my classroom door one year when I told my Principal about my clever plan for an emergency lockdown, the plan where all my students fled out the two windows that opened, running to a district elementary school about one-half mile away. If you want to try the crazy-lockdown-plan to get your door fixed, you have my permission.
You must be able to secure your items and valuable school supplies. I learned that as a new teacher when I left a small group in my classroom after school and went to my car to pick up snacks. Those were great girls and a couple of them are now young adult Facebook friends. Still, while I was gone, they went into my desk and stole money from a change bag I kept. The next day, the group confessed, crying and apologizing for a crime that I might have never even noticed if no one had said anything. That event taught me a lesson, though. Even the best kids can succumb to temptation.
I’ll add to that lesson. Don’t let anyone go into your desk. Period. Only you should remove items from your desk. The problem with letting trustworthy Richie go into your desk arises later, when other classmates interpret Richie’s opening of your desk drawer as a more general permission to go into your desk. No student should ever pull out a drawer from your desk, a rule that needs to be explicitly clear from the beginning. Desk drawers are off-limits.
One last piece of advice: Never set your phone down anywhere, anytime. Don’t charge the phone at school. I suggest women get a small bag to wear during the day, keeping phones inside when not in direct use.
Kipling makes small bags that work wonderfully.
Eduhonesty: I’m sure some readers are baffled by this post. They had those locks in place a week before school started. But new teachers have so many small details to manage that locks and anti-thievery measures may fall off the radar.
I think back to my search for a phone a few years ago. The new phone had been a birthday present from a first-year teacher’s husband and she had only had the phone for a little over a month, before setting the phone down briefly while moving classrooms. That soft-spoken, beautiful, young African-American woman looked so sad. I remain convinced that at least a couple of my students knew what had happened to the phone, but no one ever discovered the culprit. I tried, adding my questions to those of other adults, but not one of the student movers ever admitted to seeing anything.
I hope I made the responsible party feel guilty anyway.