Dilemma

It was already too late when I heard the story.

One of my students wanted to bring her new box of Pokemon cards to school.  (Students are allowed to have cards out in the gym while waiting for the morning bell to ring.). Her new (expensive) Elite Trainer Mega-Blastoise set of cards that she had saved for and bought herself.  Her mother advised her not to bring them, for fear that they would get lost or stolen.  She pleaded her case and brought them on Friday morning.

They got lost or stolen.

By Monday, the story came out amid tears.  The student was heartbroken but also embarrassed because she had pushed to bring the cards and then they disappeared on her watch.  I tried my best to figure out how to help.  From the description of the timeline, it was clear that the cards went missing while in our classroom.

I suspected everyone.  I suspected no one.  After all these days of looking into the eyes and hearts of these children with love, how could I look instead through the lens of doubt and suspicion?

I tried giving a plea to their compassion and friendship for their classmate.  We talked about empathy.  We proposed solutions.  We spent precious minutes looking in nonsense places around the room because they couldn’t accept the idea that they had been taken.  I moved on to sterner words and some interrogations.  Nothing.  I pulled out books that talked about making mistakes and fixing them.  We talked about how brave it is to have the courage to fix a mistake like this.  The little girl (again tearfully) told her classmates that she would forgive whoever had the cards and not be angry because she just wanted her cards back.  And in the end, I offered a reward–a class celebration if we could solve the problem and return the cards.  They were so excited at the idea of this that we all walked out the door optimistically thinking that the cards surely would reappear in the morning..

They did not.

Pokemon cards are a hot commodity these days among my second graders.  If one of the kids really did snatch the box and take it home, those cards are surely absorbed seamlessly into another collection with no one the wiser.  This situation lurks like a cloud over our classroom, but as much as it troubles my heart, I am out of ideas on how to get to a resolution.  It’s been an expensive lesson to learn for one little girl in particular, but the rest of the kids and I are also paying the price of a loss of trust among us.  This is not the direction I want our feelings to go as we zoom towards the end of our school year together!  We have some work to do as a class in our conversations in the coming days, and my hope is that we can regain some of the trust that has been damaged.  This has been a sad chapter in our class story.

Any advice or ideas would be much appreciated!

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3 comments

  1. teachworkoutlove · April 5

    Oh man. I don’t know 😩 I’ve never had it escalate to that level. You could put together a fundraiser and the kids could bring in coins only to help her raise back the $ for the cards ?

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  2. teachworkoutlove · April 5

    Not even sure if u are able to do that … but it could build trust and friendship and compassion again

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  3. Elisa Waingort · April 16

    This is hard, especially if the cards were misplaced or stolen inside the classroom. Whenever some transgression such as this happens in my classroom, I simply tell the kids to put back the missing item or own up to their involvement in the transgression. This is done privately. I assure the kids I will not pursue any kind of action against them. Often, the missing item turns up or the child who did something wrong will own up to it. I use this opportunity to have a discussion with that child and I make sure s/he understands how brave and grown up s/he has been to have realized their mistake.

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