As you have known by now, I am a designated Santa’s helper. Every year, my students would get a special package from “Santa” on the last day of school before Christmas. This year “Santa Moi” prepared a button toy for each student because we are currently studying the Pioneer Life and this traditional toy was a popular one for pioneer children. I also prepared a chapter book for each student. Unfortunately, Santa never got to deliver the package to my class this year! Here is the story.

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I am a big “Scrooge” on myself, but I don’t mind spending money on my family or on my students. Whenever I see something that I could use for my lessons or to benefit my students, I would try my best to obtain the object to enhance my program. Last month, I discovered a special 3D magnet kit on sale. Immediately, I ordered it off the catalogue because I would be teaching Magnetism right after the New Year. What could be better than learning and playing with a box of magnetic sticks to build 3D structures? After I received the package in the mail, I opened the box to check if all 72 pieces were in tack and then put it away on the bookshelf behind my desk.

About three weeks ago while I was organizing my resources, I noticed that the brand new box of magnetic toy kit had been opened and all the colourful magnet sticks were gone. The only things left in the box were 15 magnetic iron balls out of the whole 72 pieces. Any stranger/outsider would have taken the whole box instead of picking out small colourful pieces. I was very upset because this must be an “inside” job, which meant that someone in my class took out the pretty colourful pieces from the box but was not smart enough to take the magnetic balls (a dumb thief in my view).

I had a big talk with the class about the theft after my discovery. I told them how disappointed I was with this “Grinch” who took the colourful magnetic pieces from the kit which I was hoping to use for our science experiment after the New Year. Now the thief had robbed the joy from the class by denying all of us a chance to a fun learning experience. I thought I did a pretty good job explaining to the class about the consequences and effects of this incident. However, I did not tell them that I suspected that someone in the class did it. I couldn’t! How could I? I certainly didn’t want to point the finger at anybody or paint the whole class under the cloud of suspicion. At least, I had my feelings known clearly to the class, I thought.

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I am big on routines and work habits. All students in my class are encouraged to read at least 20 minutes a day in class and at home. I have established a personal library and the students are welcome to borrow a book each day for their home reading club. This program was set up since day one in September. A letter was sent home to the parents to inform them about the so-called Home Reading Club. I gave each child a recording sheet with one hundred square boxes. For every twenty minutes of daily reading at home, the parents can sign their initial in a square box on the sheet. This reading assignment is the students' daily homework and each child can read at their own pace. Whenever they finished the sheet of one hundred squares (2000 minutes), they would get a sticker to put on the hall of fame and then continue onto the next one. When a child has accumulated 5 stickers (10000 minutes), he or she would be allowed to pick a special prize from my treasure chest, a Rubbermaid container. Every year by November and December, many of my students would have accumulated enough of stickers and prepared to claim their prizes.

Two days before our Christmas break of 2007, I asked those students who had five stickers to pick their prizes from my treasure chest. One of my top students, VT, got to pick three prizes on that day. I remember that he picked out a Sudoku book and two other toys from the box. Everyone was happy for him because VT is well liked by all his friends. I saw him carefully put the prizes away in his backpack.

That night was our school concert for the junior students. Originally I did not intend to stay after school for the juniors’ musical performance but then my plan was changed and I ended up staying to help collect ticket money at the front door. (I called myself the “bouncer”. Hahaha.)

VT showed up with his family to come to the concert. His mother took me aside to tell me that two of VT’s prizes were stolen out of his backpack. I was so shocked that someone in my class would do such a thing; especially, I just had a talk with the class a few days ago when the magnetic pieces were taken. (You could imagine that I was like a steaming little tea kettle at that point.) VT is an excellent and diligent student that every teacher would be delighted to have in their class and a nice friend that any child would like to befriend with. I couldn’t imagine that anyone in my class would want to take his toys away from him.

Anyway, after talking to his mother, I took VT aside and explained to him how sorry I was and I knew exactly how he felt. I hoped he could also understand how frustrated I was the other day when I had discovered that the parts of a magnetic kit were missing. I promised VT that I would get to the bottom of this matter. The night was long and I kept thinking about how I should handle the matter and what I should say to the whole class. I knew that it would be out of control if I didn’t put an end to it as soon as possible.

To be continued….
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My Corner for Education

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