Broken trust

change jar

It’s happening. The skepticism. That hesitation to trust in students that I see in other teachers is happening in me. I’m fighting the reluctance to accept it and the need for it all at the same time.

My nature is to trust people until they give me a reason not to. Even then, it’s easy to know who not to trust. However, an incident – a long time coming, I might add – happened this week that requires a change in my belief system.

I keep a canning jar with a slot cut out of top for change on my desk. Into that jar goes quarters for mechanical pencils I sell to students and loose change in appreciation for the Germ-X I keep on my desk, the tissue boxes in the room that keeps them from having to use the rough toilet paper the school custodian provides, and for the dry erase markers I have to replace all too often because many students like to draw on my board or leave little notes to each other or to me.

Sometimes a kid doesn’t have lunch money and asks to borrow for the vending machine. For a little paper I.O.U., I let them, and they usually pay me back.

A couple of weeks ago, for some reason, I moved that jar to my office desk. I usually keep my office door open. In my office is “the pantry” where some of my newsies and yearbookers know I have crackers and granola bars, and I recently installed a Keurig. They go in and make coffee or hot apple cider. It’s a special thing that I don’t want to lose.

But yesterday I walked into my messy-just-like-my-classroom-desk office and immediately noticed the jar missing. My first thought was that someone was pranking me, but that wasn’t the case. Someone willfully went into my office and took a heavy coin-filled (some paper bills, too) jar. Thing is, I’ll never know who did it.

I put a note on the board asking anyone who might be pranking me to return the jar. When I came in this morning, the jar, broken and bills removed, had been returned with a note from the custodian that it had been found in one of the boys’ bathrooms.

That made me sad. It’s not the money. It’s not the jar.

It’s that now I have to lock my office and send the message that students cannot be trusted.

What else might they have taken? My purse was in plain sight, as well as other objects.

It’s on me. In seven years, this has never happened, but it has now, and I’ll have to keep the door closed and locked.

Meet the new, skeptical, suspicious me.

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About teachjournalism
I am a high school teacher of journalism, technology and reading. I advise the school's newspaper and yearbook, both student-led publications. Documenting and sharing my experiences is a way of reflecting to improve my own work and and inviting commentary so that we might all benefit. I believe, as I tell my students each year, that we all learn from each other.

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