Students report that the drafting triangles have been damaged. After observing and not detecting who was doing what to destroy the triangles the teacher comments to a student “How could this happen?” Class members immediately identify three boys who are hitting the triangles on sharp edges to nick them. Teacher talked to the three individually and told them that the triangles needed to replaced at their expense. Students deny doing the damage even though the teacher has gotten documentation they are the ones doing the damage. Teacher takes the case to the Dean. When compasses were also stolen the teacher confronted the one boy with the statement, “Bring them back!” The boy responded immediately with an O.K., which made the teacher, more convinced he was confronting the right group of students. The other two continue to deny their involvement and refuse to pay or bring back “anything”. After teacher threatens to call the police the second boy brought back missing compasses. The third boy hung tough with his denial. The next time the student who denied his part refused to do his drawings and has remained shutdown ever since. His grades have dropped from passing to failing for the semester. He spends his class time drawing pipe bombs. Coincidental to the shutdown the mouse balls from the computers on both sides of this third student become missing...stolen out of their mouse. Three students testify that they saw the targeted student handled each of the mouse balls reported missing. The teacher tried calling the parents of the one student who continues to deny his part, when that resulted in no response the teacher also sent a certified letter to the parents. The Dean tried to talk the kid into accepting his responsibilities, no response. Police wrote up a charge for damage and missing items. No response. Student fails quarter. The student skipped the first day of the new quarter, shows up for the second day and sat making “Butthead Mumbling.” The teacher takes the student out in the hall and tells him his mumbling feels like the student is mocking him and harassing him. Asks the student if he wants a good quarter. Student does not continue mumbling and even participated in class. More mouse balls are missing. What are you most frustrated about regarding this student and the missing mouse balls? The student’s lack of consciousness that stealing is wrong. The stealing continues. I am not able to teach this student. The loss of valuable equipment and the disadvantage other students must put up with because of the missing equipment. The stress is trying to “protect the $100,000.00 system” and still teach the other students.
Theories behind practice:
Impact on others:
After listing and reviewing all the procedural steps the teacher followed it was the consensus of the group that this teacher had done everything possible to offer this student alternatives. It was important to the group that, if possible, the teacher try to keep the student in his class since it seemed that this teacher would be the only hope the student had left even though the student was not accepting help at this time. The group spent time discussing the reality that there are students and cases that teachers can not influence positively. At some point the teacher, after a lot of consultation with colleagues and administrators (or reflective practice groups) has to "let-go" and believe that he did everything humanly possible and allow that the student has the final choice.
As facilitator I assume the responsibility of not letting the group off with the easy answers, however in this case I too could not think of alternatives the teacher had not already tried. There were only six members present and it was much easier to keep the group on task regarding "thinking" hypotheses. I felt each member sincerely tried to generate other behaviors for the teacher that would be for the benefit of the student.