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Case
Posted on November 25, 2012 5:58 am
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Yasar Bodur
Yasar Bodur
Reps: 614
Poor and Innocent
I made one of the biggest mistakes in my professional life as a teacher about a week ago. I teach middle school English. We collected money for a breast cancer awareness event, and I put the cash and the checks in separate envelopes. After lunch time, I could not locate the envelope with the cash. I looked everywhere, but I could not find it. I asked my students if anyone took the envelope by mistake but nobody came forward. So, the cash was lost. Apparently, someone stole it, I thought. I have a good mix of students in my classroom; different religions, races, cultures, and rich and poor. Steve is the poorest student. Sometimes students make fun of Steve for wearing the same pair of shoes or the same pants all the time. The day after the money had been lost Steve came to school wearing a new jacket. Automatically, everyone, including me, started thinking he stole the cash. I took Steve to the principalís office to have a conference with him about the lost cash and his new jacket. We told him why we were having the meeting and asked him to be truthful. He said he had nothing to do with the lost cash. When we asked him about the new jacket, he said he had worked in his uncleís mechanic shop past weekend and made some money. Then, his father gave him some money to make up the difference for him to buy the jacket. We called his father and he confirmed everything Steve had told us. At that moment I thought I had never been so embarrassed in my life. But the more embarrassing moment came when Steve asked me if I had questioned Greg, a student from a middle class background, because he happened to come to school wearing a new jacket that day also. How can I fix the broken trust between me and Steve? How would you react to this situationólost money and a poor student wearing a new jacket the next day? What would be the most appropriate way to respond to this situation?
 
     
     
 
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Solution 1
Posted December 6, 2012 7:27 pm

Jessica Jacobs Graham
Jessica Jacobs Graham
Reps: 116
I don't know that you will fully be able to fix the broken trust between you and Steve. This is a prime example of how we should not stereotype. Often, a child's financial situation may have nothing to do with whether they will steal or not. I think that you should have questioned all of your students thoroughly that would have had access to the money. If I were in this situation, I would have not jumped to conclusions. I would also talk to the students about how disappointed I was in the student that stole the money. I would then offer them the opportunity to return the money. I would tell them that they could even return it in my box without me having to know who had done it. People have different reasons for stealing, and though none of them are right, there can be a lot of shame and remorse. However, if we can talk to the students about how beneficial this money would be to the breast cancer awareness fund, maybe the culprit would show remorse and return the money.
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Kathy Allen
Kathy Allen
Reps: 100
I think your response is very insightful and I agree.
  Posted on: February 23, 2018 9:16 pm

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Solution 2
Posted December 8, 2012 3:22 pm

Anna Washinger
Anna Washinger
Reps: 121
This is such a tough situation and an honest mistake. I do believe it will take some time for Steve to gain your trust back, but I believe it can be done. It is so easy to make assumptions based on observations. In reality though, you probably will never know what happened to the money especially if someone did steal it. He/she may never come forward and admit it. I would begin with apologizing to Steve and thank him for handling this situation in such a mature way. I would then inform him that I would be questioning Greg about the money. If a situation like this occurred again, I would question EVERY student, rich or poor.
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Solution 3
Posted March 28, 2014 4:31 pm

Brad Cowart
Brad Cowart
Reps: 38
To answer your question about fixing the broken trust, trust is something that must be earned with time. When students see that you are fair and caring on a daily basis, they will trust you and a positive relationship can be built or in this case rebuilt. This may just take time.

I would need more information to determine how I would react in this situation. It is definitely wrong to suspect Steve just because he is poor. Hopefully we will get to know our students on a more personal level where we can make judgments about their character from past experiences and see that the studentís economic standing is not what determines oneís character. I have also seen people go to the opposite extreme and not be willing to question people because they were part of a disadvantaged group. We need to examine and treat people fairly regardless of their economic status. But we shouldnít overlook things that look suspicious because we are afraid of offending a student of a certain status. We need to see our students as individuals and not as part of a particular group. How we handle these situations is of paramount importance. Questioning many students from this class is definitely called for.
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Pamela McBride
Pamela McBride
Reps: 87
Brad, I agree that people should not be judged by their social status. It is very important for everyone to be treated fairly. Some poor people will never think about stealing and some will. Some rich people steal and some don't. The world is just full of surprises.
  Posted on: April 2, 2015 12:08 am

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Solution 4
Posted December 1, 2012 1:47 pm

Sha'keela McClendon
Sha'keela McClendon
Reps: 141
This is a perfect example of the old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover." If I were you I just simply apologize to Steve and let him know that as a teacher you had to question every student in the class. But also thank him for telling the truth and giving you the name of Greg. Inform him that you will be questioning Greg next and that he is not the only one. It will take a while gaining his trust but it is your responsibility to get that trust back.
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Solution 5
Posted March 25, 2014 11:03 pm

Brian Martin
Brian Martin
Reps: 42
This situation is very uncomfortable and will result in a certain amount of emotional damage for both teacher and students. Of course hindsight is 20-20, but the importance of money handling is really driven home in this scenario. In a situation like this you have to realize that the money is gone for good. Any investigation can only cause trouble. When an investigation like this fails, student relationships suffer. Students can hurt each otherís feelings with accusations and assumptions. The teachers and students can start to resent each other over the suspicions that are raised. The damage to the relationships caused by a failed investigation far outweighs any amount of money in that envelope. I think it is appropriate to be honest with the students and let them know that the money is gone. Take advantage of the teachable moment. Teach students not to turn on each other and try to heal as a community.
In this case, the damage is done and we have to do the best we can for poor Steve. The answer is honesty. Tell him that a terrible mistake was made and apologize. Steve is no fool. He probably understands the type of prejudice that exists in the world. You should tell him that the fact that he had a new jacket only stood out because you had heard the other cruel students tease him about it. You should tell him that most people pay no attention to such things and that it was wrong for both students and adults to jump to such a conclusion. Trust and relationship building relies on honesty and must be rebuilt one day at a time.
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Solution 6
Posted February 16, 2013 12:14 pm

Sarah Brittany Sandbach
Sarah Brittany Sandbach
Reps: 27
First of all, I would take into account that this is another way of discriminating. Something we should be teaching students about every day. With that said, this is a mistake that has most likely been made by many. When money goes missing, many tend to look towards those we assume don't have any. I would have thought about how truthful all of the students were before making any assumptions. I would question every student in the class and not the one "poor" student.Since this incident did take place, I think the best way to start fixing it is with an apology. I would not announce it to the class or make it a bigger deal than it already has been made. The student is already embarassed enough and being called out in front of the class will not help the situation. I would take Steve to the side and sincerely appologize for jumping to conclusions. I would explain that when money goes missing, many details like a new jacket the next day are taking into account. I would question the other student, Greg, who had a new jacket too. As a teacher you have to treat all of your students the same no matter the background or the current situation. We are not a jury, nor do we have the right to make such a judgement call.
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Solution 7
Posted March 28, 2013 12:45 pm

Terry Sanford
Terry Sanford
Reps: 41
Securing monies and funds that were given to you by students for a school run fundraiser falls under the ethical standards in most states. Why those funds were not immediately given to the administration is the first question that needs to be answered by the teacher. The second issue is a classroom management issue. As a teacher in that situation, I NEVER collected money in class during instructional time, it was always collected at a time where I could then immediately go and deposit it. This is simply a mismanagement of time. The third and final issue is why was the money not securely locked up in the room so that no one had access to it. I am sure somewhere in every classroom in the country is a place that a teacher can lock something up, this is just common sense.

As to the trust issue, it also borders on the ethical issues to accuse someone of a crime without any proof, which is what this teacher did. Making the correlation that Steve, the poorest student, stole the money because he came to school with a jacket that you never saw before is both unethical and wrong. Let me make that statement again, you assumed that it was a new jacket because you never saw it before, it may have been in the family for years, it may not have even been recently purchased.

How I would have handled the situation is this: Let it go. You, as the teacher, were responsible for the money. You cannot trace the bills back to any one individual in the class, without substantial proof, which you will never get. The right thing to do is to make up the difference out of your own pocket, since you were the one who put the money in the position to be stolen. You cannot blame any student in that class, period. Learn from your mistake and move on from it.

As far as fixing the broken trust with Steve, I would discreetly pull him aside and have a one on one conversation, be honest and explain what happened. Tell the student that you are sorry to implicate them in something they werenít involved with, and hope that over time you can rebuild the trust.
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eRuPeT
eRuPeT
Reps: 103
I promise that this question is not sarcastic in nature, but when would you collect monies from your class? As a school that doesn't an actual set time for homeroom, and I forced to take up money during class time. I do it during the first 5-10 minutes of class time while students are working on the opening activity, then it goes into my locked desk drawer. After that if a student suddenly remembers their money I tell them they will have to wait because we have a lesson to get into. This does not happen very often, mostly for school t-shirt sales and fundraisers, but there is no other time during the day.

I have mentioned having a table at lunch or break set to the side for money collection, but in a small school district we do not have the staff to run such things.
  Posted on: March 11, 2015 7:56 pm

Pamela McBride
Pamela McBride
Reps: 87
It is a good practice to put the money in a secure location. Sometimes it is best to take away the temptation. There should be a way in which students can be educated about doing the right things. We too often assume that it is occurring in homes. However, some homes don't have stealing as a moral or belief.
  Posted on: April 2, 2015 12:13 am

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Solution 8
Posted April 4, 2013 10:15 pm

Johnnie Skelton
Johnnie Skelton
Reps: 104
Monetary collection is one of the necessary evils of teaching. Unfortunately, temptation can make even our best students less than trustworthy, which is why students should always be supervised and should never have access to cash received. Just as I donít keep the class prize box or candy jar within the reach of little fingers, I keep cash carefully locked away. Otherwise, I would be setting my students up to take something.
Since the damage in this situation is already done, the best solution may be to attempt an honest apology and prepare for a long wait to reestablish the trust between the teacher and student. In the meantime, it might help to make Steve feel less singled out to take his advice and pursue other possible leads regarding the theft.
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Solution 9
Posted April 1, 2014 2:34 am

Alaina Hughey
Alaina Hughey
Reps: 35
It was unfair to blame the poor child because he had a new jacket. I would have asked every child in the classroom instead of targeting one student. Steveís feelings were probably hurt because he was accused of something he didnít do. Iím not sure how one can gain the trust back after something like that. If I were accused of something I didnít do, I would definitely pull back from that person who blamed me. My school has a security officer; if some money was stolen from my classroom, I would immediately report it to the security officer. All students would have to remain in the classroom and the principal and officer can check the students. They would check all of the students, not just certain ones. When a situation like this happens, it is best to keep a level head and stick with the facts. Acting off of emotions will worsen the situation.
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Solution 10
Posted November 29, 2012 5:19 pm

Meredith Hein
Meredith Hein
Reps: 139
This may not be truthful to the student, but I feel it would be the best thing to try to recover from your mistake : After you had already determined that Steve was telling the truth and had not stolen the money, I would then respond to Steve's question of whether I had questioned Greg by saying, "I did also noticed Greg had a new jacket the next day and he is coming to the principal's office next. We are asking all of the students one-at-a-time." I think it would be best to try to convince Steve that he was not the only one targeted in the questioning and act as if it was a routine thing that he was just another person coming to the office. I would then say, "I am glad you are not the person who stole the money and thank you for being honest with us. I am sorry that the person who stole the money has not been honest and upfront from the beginning, which has caused us to question everyone individually." This way you are apologizing, without drawing too much attention to his socio-economic status. I would then proceed to follow through with asking Greg and then the remainder of the class until someone confesses to stealing the money.
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eRuPeT
eRuPeT
Reps: 103
Honestly, I would do the same thing. But then you would have to ask the other student to keep your word.
  Posted on: March 11, 2015 7:59 pm

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Solution 11
Posted November 27, 2012 4:25 pm

Ashley Williams
Ashley Williams
Reps: 118
I think in order to gain Steve's trust back you would have to apologize to him and work very hard to show him that you were actually sorry. Your actions should show him that you truly would never place the blame on him again without equally considering everyone else in the classroom. I think the most appropriate way to respond to the situation would be to question everyone in the classroom. Even the "rich kids." Money doesn't have to be motivation for bad behavior; sometimes kids just do things because they can.
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Kelly Jackson
Kelly Jackson
Reps: 103
Yes! Students behave a certain way out of desire more often than need. It is likely that a poor student is in fact not the suspect. All students should be considered when on the hunt for the stolen money.
  Posted on: May 1, 2015 1:00 am

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Solution 12
Posted December 4, 2012 11:32 am

Savanna Hayman
Savanna Hayman
Reps: 104
I think that Steve was embarrassed by the situation and although it was handled in the wrong way, at least other students were not aware of it, because that would have made the situation a million times worse. I think an apology to Steve is really all that you can do, besides making sure that you confront all of the students so that he doesn't feel left out. Teaching an extra assignment (if time permits) about discrimination against other people because of their social and economic backgrounds would also be a good idea since you also mentioned that students have given him a hard time before. It could open up the students' eyes and also show him that you are making an effort to apologize.
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Solution 13
Posted December 4, 2012 7:58 pm

Wendie Sikes
Wendie Sikes
Reps: 57
Fixing the trust between you and Steve may take awhile. Since you said everyone was thinking Steve took the money you could apologize to Steve in front of his classmates and make it a point to explain that it is not appropriate to discriminate based on appearance,skin color, or for any other reason. This may help you to gain a little respect back from Steve and will clear up everyone else's belief that he stole the cash.If they picked on him before, it is likely that they will accuse and tease him until they know that it was not him. If I were responding to this situation I may mention the new jacket in conversation and wait for a response. He may have offer his pride in working to earn that jacket by talking about working for it. You might also be able to judge from his reaction if he is telling the truth. You may even make parent contact and search for a reaction as well. This would allow some investigation without making it so obvious that you think that it is him.
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Solution 14
Posted December 5, 2012 4:43 pm

John Buxton
John Buxton
Reps: 114
The best thing to do would be interview every single student in the class. Regardless of economic background, ask each of them a series of difficult questions which would almost force the guilty party to confess. Most likely, another student knows about the theft and would snitch on their classmate if the proper interrogation took place. If that did not work it would be the teacher's responsibility to come up with the money, especially since it was the teachers fault to begin with.
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Solution 15
Posted December 7, 2012 7:21 pm

Art Buff
Art Buff
Reps: 111
In light of the information given I can't say that you were wrong in your suspicion. However, one big mistake was taking him to the principal. You simply could have questioned him after school (with another teacher present that was aware of the missing money). When it comes to it you (the teacher) were wrong and your suspicion was based on appearance. Granted you noticed that a new jacket was out of order for this particular student, but was it that flashy (Michael Jackson Thriller Jacket flashy)?You may have permanently ruined the trust between you and the student but it is important to make a constant attempt to rebuild it whatever the case. No grand gesture is necessary just simple acts along to way. It's not as if there will be an exact situation such as this that you can redo and make up for what has transpired in one instance.
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Solution 16
Posted December 7, 2012 11:23 pm

areli saucedo
areli saucedo
Reps: 119
The title is very adequate, Poor and Innocent Steve, he is a perfect example of the discrimination that occurs daily in our schools. People tend to assume they know everything, including the likelyhoods that a certain race can do something. The solution to this problem is to talk to Steve and explain to him the reasons why your ignorance assumed he was the one that did it, and explain to him that even adults commit mistakes. Thus, this will probably hurt Steve since you blamed him without having proof.
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Solution 17
Posted December 8, 2012 3:41 pm

Ariane Anderson
Ariane Anderson
Reps: 114
It will take time and effort to rebuild trust between you and Steve. Even through Steve is a poor student I would have not gone to that extinct of taking him to the principalís office without evidence. We canít assume things when it comes to our students. You will have to apologize to Steve and show him that you really mean it. The most appropriate way to respond to the situation was to ask the students one by one to figure out who was the last person in the class and to see if they knew who took it.
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Solution 18
Posted December 8, 2012 9:53 pm

Booker Hobbs
Booker Hobbs
Reps: 56
I believe the best step towards a good healing is being honest with yourself. Moreover, I will sincerely apologize to Steve and tell him why I thought he stole the money. Then I would explain to him what sterotyping mean. All of this would take place in front of the entire class. I will go on to say that sometimes we can over analyze a wrongful situation and allow it to be up in our minds until we actually start to believe it. Getting Steve to run errands every now and then will show that I trust him. His should also apologize for prejudging. Next I will have the entire class to write a paper on "why we should not stereotype."
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Solution 19
Posted December 9, 2012 5:09 pm

Erin Warren
Erin Warren
Reps: 142
Definitely apologize and try to regain his trust. I would also tell him that you are going to question other students, ad to not single out Greg either. I personally would question every student, now that you questioned him because that wouldnt be fair to single him out. I think each one should be questioned to make sure that all of your tracks are covered.
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Solution 20
Posted February 11, 2013 2:16 pm

Mallory Stewart
Mallory Stewart
Reps: 26
I imagine that Steve was embarrassed when this happened to him! Although, it may have been handled in the wrong way maybe it can be fixed. Maybe you can interview all the students like you did Steve so this way he does not feel pin pointed or feel like you think less of him than the other students. You could also talk to Steve and explain to him what an awful mistake you made!
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Solution 21
Posted February 17, 2013 9:02 pm

Margaret Lales
Margaret Lales
Reps: 30
The most you can do is to apologize to Steve and explain to him the mistake you made and do your best to make a teachable moment out of this bad situation. Also you could then independently question all the students in the class, not taking into account their social status. Let Steve know that you did in fact make a mistake and you made a bad call in judgement. You let stereotype get the best of you and this is a teachable lesson for us all, because it could have happened to us. Knowing that you made this mistake and taking responsibility for it is what is important.
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Solution 22
Posted February 18, 2013 1:25 pm

omni davis
omni davis
Reps: 13
I would most definately apologize to the students as well as their parent. I feel like you should never assume a child as did something because of their background as being poor and then the next day coming to class with a new jacket on. There's nothing more you can do in this situation but apologize.
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Solution 23
Posted February 28, 2013 8:23 am

Candice Williams
Candice Williams
Reps: 102
There is really not more that you can do besides trying your best to fix the situation by earning back the students' trust and apologizing repeatedly. It is important to make sure to question the other student so that he understands that he was not "singled" out and you do care strictly about recovering the money. It is going to definitely take some time to re-gain the students' trust.
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Will Melton
Will Melton
Reps: 58
This is a truly embarrassing and difficult situation to resolve. There is a great deal that we can learn from this issue - first of all, it is very important to handle money properly so situations like this do not arise in the future. Handling money and teaching seem to go together more often than not and unfortunately what was meant to be a positive thing to raise money for breast cancer - turned into a negative thing and actually made students more aware of a particular student's jacket and both students and teachers propensity to overgeneralize.
To restore trust with Steve you will have to come talk with him, be honest and ask for forgiveness. Congratulate him for getting a new jacket and for working to earn the right to get a new jacket. I would also commit to questioning all of the students one on one to show solidarity with Steve because this was something that he asked about - if all of the students endured one on one questioning, that might let Steve at least know that you were willing to question the other students as well.
It will be a long road back with Steve and trust may never be restored fully, does show him respect. Also, since he was a victim of being misjudged, you should find ways to notice when he is doing something right and find ways to see the goodness inside of him to foster ways for him to show more goodness and not think that other teachers/students or adults may assume the worst from him - this is another big thing that needs to happen. Steve has the potential to be negatively hardened by the incident and think that adults have it out for him and will assume he has done something wrong, even though he has not. A proper view of Steve and who he is needs to be fostered and that comes by honoring and respecting him for working hard, earning money and any other positive things that can be discovered inside of him as the school year progresses.
  Posted on: March 28, 2014 11:58 am

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Solution 24
Posted March 26, 2013 10:45 am

Robert Batchelor
Robert Batchelor
Reps: 36
Regaining Steve's trust will be a slow process. Unfortunately, judging people and forming opinions about others is human nature. I would have an honest talk with Steve and let him know your thoughts that lead to questioning him about the money. He is probably already aware of people's perception of him and has dealt with situations like this in the past. I would make sure to tell him exactly how you feel and that this lesson is one you will take with you from now on. I am not sure that I would address the situation in front of the entire class because, especially in middle school, that can result in added embarassment and unwanted side effects. Then, over the course of the next few weeks, ask Steve to do small things for you that can slowly show that you do trust him and, hopefully, he will begin to see that.
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Solution 25
Posted March 31, 2013 10:06 pm

Lori Lancaster
Lori Lancaster
Reps: 38
Unfortunately, I do not think that this can be fixed overnight. Trust is earned over a period of time. All is not lost though because we all make mistakes, both as teachers and as parents. I like to think of trust as an emotional bank account, where we make deposits each day. That way when something does go wrong, we have that account to back us up. I am sure that your emotional bank account with this child took a hit, but there is still a positive balance. I would suggest that you continue as you have all year long by showing love and support for your student. If you try different methods that the child does not recognize, he may become suspicious. You should be honest with the student and I do not mind telling both my students and my own children when I am wrong. They need to understand that we, too, are human. Apologize to clear the air, but trust is felt and known each and every day. If you love them, they will know it.
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Solution 26
Posted April 1, 2013 10:28 pm

Jennifer Spitko
Jennifer Spitko
Reps: 61
I would apologize to Steve, tell him that you made a mistake, and earn his trust back by showing him that you trust him through your actions from now on. It is never alright to assume that someone stole money because they are poor, but you can learn from this mistake and not judge your students in the future. I think that they best way to respond to this situation would have been to talk to the class as a whole about being trustworthy and responsible and encourage whoever took the money to return it. If the money was not returned then you could talk to each student in the class individually.
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Solution 27
Posted April 3, 2013 10:02 am

N Lewis
N Lewis
Reps: 40
I think that the teacher should apologize to the student. It will not gain the studentís trust back immediately; however, demonstrating that you acknowledge your mistake will show the student that you are trying to do the right thing after misjudging him. Although the teacher feels guilty, there is no sure way of gaining the studentís trust back. The teacher should view this as a lesson learned and not repeat the same mistake in the future.
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Solution 28
Posted April 4, 2013 5:28 pm

Debbie Lee Gaskin
Debbie Lee Gaskin
Reps: 48
well there definitely is a tough situation. I don't think it's abnormal to jump to the conclusion you did considering the fact that Steve could rarely afford adequate clothes much less new clothes. It does call upon all of us to be careful though and remember that teenagers (and their families) want certain cool things even if they sometimes can't afford the normal things. They will often extend themselves and even overextend themselves financially to get just one or two things that make them feel good. It also calls upon us to realize that thievery and other out of bounds behavior is not limited to struggling socioeconomic outsiders. They say that shoplifters are mainly middle-class and upper-middle-class teenagers and young adults who could well afford to buy most of what they steal. And most of the time they don't steal things that are really needs anyway. I guess we all tend to have our stereotypes and though I pride myself on thinking outside the box in those terms I realize that I too would've had the same thoughts about Steve.I hope though that I would've thought twice before confronting him considering the fact that both growing up and as an adult I've had friends Ė and my children have too Ėwho are poor but upstanding citizens. it's important to move quickly to try and get to the bottom of a situation like that, but I guess it's also important to maybe confer with other teachers and staff who know the students and can also observe their behavior to get a consensus of opinion when it comes to investigation and confrontation.
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Solution 29
Posted April 4, 2013 10:53 pm

Cynthia Vaughan
Cynthia Vaughan
Reps: 41
First you must apologize to Steve, admitting your mistake will show your sincerity to the student and you may be able to fix some of the damage you have done. Secondly, when a situation like this arises one must take a step back and think about the situation before acting. I think that this teacher was so freaked out about losing the money they grabbed on to the first student they thought may have a reason to take the money. This teacher did not know for sure if the money was even stolen, they just assumed it was. The money was gone and their panic had started to set in.

It is a good practice to turn in money to the bookkeeper as soon as possible. I always keep my collected funds in a locked cabinet until I can turn the money in. I never keep the money overnight. If I had lost the money, I would just come clean to my administration and offer to replace the money that was lost. I would not interrogate my students or start to judge them. Even if the money was stolen without concrete proof one cannot blame any student.
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Solution 30
Posted March 30, 2014 2:22 pm

Shelly Butler
Shelly Butler
Reps: 37
It is definitely going to take a long time to gain Steve's forgiveness and trust. In order to do so I would first apologize to Steve and then to his father. Also, I would talk with the class about how important it is not to point fingers at anyone unless you know one hundred percent that they are to blame. The best scenario would have been to as the students to get out pencil and paper. Then tell the students to write down what they thought happened. If they seen anyone take the money or if they had heard anyone talking about taking the money then they need to write down everything they knew. This is a great way for the students to tell the teacher what they know. One reason being is because no one sees the students talking to the teacher about the situation and the students will not know who tells on who. Gaining a students trust is very important to the students and we as teachers should try everyway possible to avoid breaking that trust.
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Solution 31
Posted March 30, 2014 11:03 pm

Monique Lester
Monique Lester
Reps: 37
First, you should tell Steve and his family that you are very sorrow for the accusations you made. Honestly, as far as rebuilding the trust. I don't know if it will ever redevelop to where it was in the beginning. That's the thing about trust. It's so valuable and irreplaceable that you have to treat it like the gift that it is. I hate to be the one that says the should've could've, but there has been many times that I thought one of my students took something that belonged to me only to find that I misplaced it. I never let students know that I think they took something. I teach at a Title I school, and the students have low SES. I think the best thing for you to do in this situation is to learn from it. Please don't confront students on what you think to be true. Trust is a precious gift; protect it with all your might.
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Solution 32
Posted March 31, 2014 1:12 pm

ZuRyPa
ZuRyPa
Reps: 36
I am so sorry for both you and Steve. I think at this point you must learn from this mistake and move on. At my school, we have a policy that teachers cannot take money from students. When we have a fundraiser the students must give the money directly to the office. I would make sure to either follow that as a guideline or lock it up in a safe place. I had a similiar situation this year, however not as severe as yours. I left two scarves on my chair and one day they truned up missing. I am a pretty organized person, however this time I wasn't certian if I brought them home with me or if someone took them. I searched my house, car, the classroom everything until I was sure someone must have gotten them. Well, I allowed two young ladies to put thier gym bags behind my desk until the end of the day, I thought maybe one of the students took it by accident. However, one day one of the girls came in with an identical scarf. I was sure it was mine, but could be 100% because it was just a plain beige scarf. I didn't say anything in hopes that she would wear the other scarf that had gone missing that would be more identifiable, but she did not. After a few weeks, I was cleaning my closest and there it was. I felt ashamed for thinking the worst of her and was very thankful that I didn't accuse her. Still the guilt was heavy and I didn't even say anything to her, so I can imagine how you must feel. Bottom line, you were doing the right thing by trying to locate the money, however, without any proof it was a little unfair to target an innocent child. Maybe an interview with each student could have been more appropriate. I don't think profiling a student was a good idea. You will have to work on repairing your relationship with this student.
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Solution 33
Posted April 2, 2014 3:08 pm

Ethan Burke
Ethan Burke
Reps: 39
Although I have never done this, I have made mistakes just the same. I think having a conversation with Steve and admitting to him that you were wrong in what you did and that you apologize for jumping to conclusions is critical. I would also add that you are going to question Greg and every other student in the class. To repair your working relationship with Steve is going to be a slow process in which you are going to have to be in situations in which you can "prove" your trust with him again... knowing that if may never fully return. You take what you learn from this situation and use it to improve yourself in the future. As for finding the money, think that if you have hallway security cameras that could have captured someone entering your room during lunch could be a saving grace.
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Solution 34
Posted April 3, 2014 2:26 am

Jonathan Olivarez
Jonathan Olivarez
Reps: 36
I can understand why the mistake was made but it is never to assume someone guilty because of their appearance. It will be difficult to build that trust back between yourself and the student. The only way I can think of righting the wrong would be to formally apologize to him and tell him how baseless it is to assume that someone would steal just because they are poor. You will have to be very honest and "real" with him. I respond to the situation by first admitting that I was the one responsible for the entire situation. If I would have taken better care of the money then the situation would have never occurred. Therefore, I would have spoken with my administrator and come up with the money myself to correct the mistake. In the meantime, I would make the situation known to all of my students and remind them what the cause for the money was for. I would then ask them to report anything they know to me or the principal about the situation. I believe this would be the most appropriate course of action.
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Solution 35
Posted April 3, 2014 3:06 am

Erin Warren
Erin Warren
Reps: 142
I definitely would apologize to him and his parents. I would also ask other students individually. You may gain SOME of steves trust back this way. Explain to him that he has a good point and that you will take all students into consideration. I would also give a suggestion box of sorts in case someone knows something. That way they can talk without people knowing who told.
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Solution 36
Posted April 4, 2014 2:37 am

Stephen Farkas
Stephen Farkas
Reps: 36
You were in a tough situation. Being aware of that kind of bias is important for not making the same mistake again in the future. If I were in your situation I would ask other students before they entered the classroom if they had heard anything. Typically a student would brag about that sort of behavior, and other students would hear about it. Having some sort of evidence before making accusations would help you to avoid that sort of situation in the future. It may still happen, but it would be less likely to happen. You could have also sent an email out to all of the parents, making them aware of the situation. If they noticed their child wearing a strange new jacket, they would be likely to say something.
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Kelly Jackson
Kelly Jackson
Reps: 103
I agree with your idea of talking to other students in order to gain information. An act like that will be public knowledge in a very short amount of time and some students may be reliable enough to tell names. Many students would be will to assist the teacher.
  Posted on: May 1, 2015 12:59 am

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Solution 37
Posted April 15, 2014 4:39 pm

Audrey Hobbs
Audrey Hobbs
Reps: 29
This is a very difficult situation. As teachers, we are ultimately responsible for the funds, and I don't think that we can lay blame without probable cause. We must always be fair and not stereotype based on perceived income-level, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. I would not have taken Steve to the principals office. I would have taken responsibility for the lost funds myself. As far as the relationship with Steve goes, it will certainly take time to heal. I would personally apologize and then allow him time to forgive. Just realize that this will not happen overnight and that it may not happen at all.
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Solution 38
Posted March 22, 2015 8:42 pm

Kristine Morris
Kristine Morris
Reps: 153
Once students feel that you have a different opinion of them, it becomes very difficult for them to change their opinion about you. We all have to be careful of accusing students unless we have physical evidence. In this situation, we have to acknowledge that we are investigating the situation of not accusing anyone but to get to the bottom of what happened to the envelope. With not knowing how the conversation began, it is possible to just start a general conversation about how you noticed the jacket and was showing interest in the student and then begin to ask about the money. Students are fragile when it comes to accusing them of something; therefore, it have to pick and choose our battles and be confident when we accuse them. Therefore, you may allow the student to understand that you are ask numerous of students questions individually and not in front of others. Therefore, the students do not look at you as pointing fingers at one student.
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Pamela McBride
Pamela McBride
Reps: 87
Students are very sensitive and it could really make them shut down. Educators should make sure that the situation is handled with care and caution. Getting students to trust you can be a hard task. However, gaining the trust back after it has been destroyed can be a very challenging task.
  Posted on: April 2, 2015 12:17 am

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Solution 39
Posted March 22, 2015 9:48 pm

Alma Sakonjic
Alma Sakonjic
Reps: 38
This situation is very awkward and embarrassing. Iím not sure what measures could be taken to repair the damages. However, I will start by indicating what I would have done to not take it as far as having Steve in the principalís office facing accusations. After the money disappeared and suspicions about Steve started arising, I would have notified the appropriate chain of command as to what perspired. That is all a person can do, I believe. I would not have the guts to approach any student personally with such accusations. I donít know that that is in our job description.

However, if I did partake in the situation as described above, I would have to make reparations with Steve. Iím not sure in which way I would approach it. Possibly, I would start by seeking counsel on the situation from individuals that experience in the areas. I would want to know why my mind prejudicially assumed that because of Steveís socioeconomic status that he is the culprit. Possibly, another approach would be to explain to Steve the concept of ďcircumstantial evidence.Ē However, even evidence isnít always proof. Would this work? Or is it an excuse? But what does this do for my relationship with the student? I donít know. I donít know that it could be repaired. If I did my best to repair the relationship it might seem that Iím favoring Steve. You know, when you try extra hard to get someone to like you it seems obvious sometimes, does it not? This seems like one of the situations where you walk away with your head shamefully hanging. Irreparable.
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Solution 40
Posted March 23, 2015 11:31 pm

Pamela McBride
Pamela McBride
Reps: 87
This is a very bad situation. First, I would apologize to the student and try to make him understand how bad I feel about jumping to conclusion. Also, I would have questioned all of the children individual. Not just signal this particular student out. He already feels like an outcast because he wears the same shoes and pants everyday. Now, he has to wear the shame of being a thief. I would find some type of way to make sure the students know that the boy is not a thief. He is an honest, hard working young man. Maybe this can be done by a show and tell or report about different ways in which students can obtain items that they want without being given it from parents. It will be hard for the teacher to earn the child's trust again but I don't think that it will be impossible.
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Solution 41
Posted March 26, 2015 2:22 pm

ebyHyp
ebyHyp
Reps: 38
You cannot judge a book by its cover. Even though this is true, sometimes mistakes do happen. There have been instances when students were doubted for doing something wrong. However, instead of jumping to conclusions and questioning the students, inquiry was made before the students were interrogated. It is easy to jump to conclusions and try to solve the problem right away, but sometimes it is necessary to step back and look at the whole picture. Once the trust is lost it is very difficult to regain the trust back, so its important to play with a cool head. Time is the only healer to regain a broken trust. A broken trust is hard to fix but apologizing for the situation and making sure something like this doesn't happen again will help prevent future situations.
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Solution 42
Posted March 28, 2015 2:24 pm

Angela Thornton
Angela Thornton
Reps: 41
I think every teacher has a time when he or she has misjudged a student. Like others responding to the case, I am not sure that the relationship can go back to the way that it was before the accusation, but it can be repaired to some extent. Students need to see adults make mistakes and then observe how those same adults respond to the mistakes. I think the first thing that you have to do is offer a humble and heartfelt apology to both the student and the parents. Students really do know if you are genuine or not. be honest. Be real. They know if you mean it or not. I also think that it is a good idea to look into Steve's observation about Greg. I certainly would not give up on trying to find the lost money until I explored every possible lead. The whole situation will one day make a great illustration for not judging a book by the cover, but until enough time has passed you will need to do what you feel is right to repair the breach between you and Steve.
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Solution 43
Posted March 30, 2015 1:29 pm

Thomas Layfield
Thomas Layfield
Reps: 35
The first thing to do would certainly be to apologize. Ideally, the best way to handle the situation would have been to interview/speak with every student in the class as soon as the money went missing (perhaps with the assistance of the school resource officer). However, the situation being as it is, apologizing to Steve is about all that can be done. Its probably going to be impossible to completely repair the relationship with Steve since, despite the fact that he was pulled aside from his peers, he has been completely humiliated. I would work on trying to rebuild as much of a relationship with Steve as possible, while realizing he probably isn't ever going to fully trust me again. The only other thing you can really do to make it up to Steve is to make sure it doesn't ever happen again.
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Solution 44
Posted March 31, 2015 1:35 am

Kris Peebles
Kris Peebles
Reps: 58
This is a very sensitive situation as the trust between you and the student could possibly be put to jeopardy if not handled appropriately. I think that the best thing to do in this situation is to man up and admit that you made a mistake by assuming it was Steve. Perhaps get to know Steve's interests and try to iron out the mistake by taking an interest in his personal hobbies, goals, and aspirations in life. Students in poverty need as much support and motivation they can get. When teachers go out of their way to understand students in poverty, then it really makes a huge difference.

Also, if your car begins to have trouble in the future, consider taking it to his uncle's mechanic shop and let Steve fix it. Simple things like this helps to form positive bonds and undue past mistakes.
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Solution 45
Posted April 1, 2015 5:41 pm

epujaN
epujaN
Reps: 41
I'm not sure that repairing the relationship and trust between you and Steve will happen quickly. It may be something that takes place over time, if it ever happens. However, in the future, I would suggest questioning several students, particularly if they have been in the position to steal money (IE left alone in the classroom, sent back during lunch). More importantly, money should never be left unattended in a classroom, especially if it is not locked up. At my school, we have had students and, unfortunately, custodial staff, steal money from teachers that was from a fundraiser.
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Solution 46
Posted April 1, 2015 6:50 pm

Brittany Rosa
Brittany Rosa
Reps: 37
I think a different way you could have handled the situation would be to question every student in the class. This way no one student is singled out and feels accused. However, this may not produce answers. If Steve had showed up after that with the new jacket, I probably would have mentioned how the jacket was nice, it looks new, where did he get it? Making conversation about the jacket. Sometimes guilty parties would not be able to handle discussing this if he or she knew the jacket was bought with stolen money. Overall, you may just have to call it a loss and keep the money under better surveillance the next time.

As for repairing the trust between you ans Steve, that is more difficult. Once trust is gone, it's hard to get it back. Starting by apologizing is the only way to go. Then, hopefully, try to build your relationship from there.
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Solution 47
Posted April 2, 2015 3:08 am

Lara Komanecky
Lara Komanecky
Reps: 37
I don't know that you can completely rebuild the trust, but you can certainly repair it over time. I would start by apologizing to Steve. Students respond well to a teacher's honesty and I think that a genuine apology goes a long way. I think you have to tell Steve that you noticed his new jacket and felt like you had to ask him about the money. I also think your next move is to question other students about the money so that Steve isn't the only person questioned.
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Solution 48
Posted April 2, 2015 6:53 pm

qyzeha
qyzeha
Reps: 105
This mistake would be very easy to make. It is so important for us to remember the importance of not stereotyping our students. I can't say I wouldn't have made the same mistake. I think in the future I would talk with my principal before questioning the student and questioning where he got the money for a new jacket. I would work with my principal and possibly even the counselor and come up with a plan to get the answers to your questions without making the student feel singled out. As for fixing your relationship with the student, all you can do is apologize and admit your mistake. This may not fix the situation, but you are doing all you can do by admitting your mistake and giving the student a sincere apology. This is also a great opportunity to talk with all of your students about the importance of not stereotyping and the hurt it can cause others when you do stereotype.
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Solution 49
Posted April 3, 2015 2:00 pm

qeDyRe
qeDyRe
Reps: 44
The embarrassment you are feeling is not unwarranted, however, your actions were not unreasonable. Let us put this situation in perspective. According to your statement, you simply formed a suspicion about the incident you did not formally or informally accuse anyone. Secondly, you took the appropriate action of questioning the student in a private setting, properly investigated your suspicions, and notified the parents. All of these actions are appropriate, reasonable, and necessary. When one abnormal event follows another abnormal event and there is a logical connection of sorts between them, one can only place two and two together. With that being said, hindsight is 20/20 so letís take a look could have been different to avoid problems in the future. First of all, the money was clearly unsecured which is unacceptable. If the temptation to take the money had been removed in the first place, this incident would have been completely avoided. As for your suspicions, again, reasonable, however you must think outside of the box. Who had the ability to take the money, was there opportunity for those who had ability, and out of those people did other evidence present itself? Take those steps and consider all those who qualify. Certainly Steve qualified but that doesnít eliminate others. As for your relationship with the student, the best solution is to be honest. Explain your suspicions and thank him for his cooperation. Congratulate him on a job well done for earning the money for his coat and tell him that you admire that. Also, have some humility and apologize for jumping the gun and making assumptions. I believe he will find that Steve will understand.
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Solution 50
Posted April 3, 2015 3:11 pm

qeRuNy
qeRuNy
Reps: 40
I think it will take a long time for Steve to earn your trust back, but with some effort you might be able to earn it. I think that I would use this as an opportunity to tell Steve that you made a huge life mistake for blaming him, and that you have learned your lesson. Use this as an experience to humble yourself and show Steve what that looks like. Explain your feeling and emotion to Steve so that he will know your sincerity in making this mistake. And ask that in time will Steve try and earn your trust back.
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Solution 51
Posted April 3, 2015 7:39 pm

Kimberly Griner
Kimberly Griner
Reps: 40
Obviously, the first mistake was that the money was not secured. With that being said, mistakes do happen. However, even if you assumed that it was Steve because he suddenly had a new jacket, you could have questioned each student rather than singling him out because of his social status. I am sure he felt embarrassed and singled out. The theft should have been reported immediately and students not allowed to leave until the money was found (this could be handled by the principal or school resource officer). It will be very hard to gain Steve's trust back, if it is even possible. The first thing you should do, without a doubt, is to take him aside and sincerely apologize for accusing him when you really did not have any evidence. Depending on the type of personality that Steve has, this could be a very difficult situation for him to forgive, especially if he is already self-conscious about his home situation.
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Solution 52
Posted April 3, 2015 8:46 pm

Alexandra Snider
Alexandra Snider
Reps: 35
This is a very unfortunate situation for you and the student. Whenever you collect money, you must insure that the money is in a secure location that is only accessible to you. This way you are able to avoid situations like this. Anyway, a student generally knows what assumptions the teacher has of him/her, so Steve was surely embarrassed too. I would apologize to Steve and admit to the mistake. I would allow the trust to rebuild naturally through that. Next time you collect money, make sure you put it in a safe place!
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Solution 53
Posted April 9, 2015 2:31 pm

Jill Nixon
Jill Nixon
Reps: 39
I perceive you are a less experienced teacher. The first thing you need to do is find a better principal, immediately! Your principal should never have allowed things to get where they are now. You have failed yet again in your regard for Steve. Steve would not have given you the tip on Greg if there were not hope for a renewed relationship with him. Steve is a very mature boy, maybe more mature than you! My advice to you is to genuinely apologize. Steven Covey, relationship expert, suggests that when we apologize that we state what we are sorry for, why we are sorry, and how or why we will never make the mistake again. I have made my fair share of mistakes with students. Kids are very resilient. Never once has a child not forgiven me when I own my mistake and ask for forgiveness. Finally, you need to allow yourself to move forward from this mistake after learning from it. I believe mistakes are made for a reason, to grow. Embrace this opportunity of growth and remember to share this knowledge along your life journey!
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Solution 54
Posted May 1, 2015 12:56 am

Kelly Jackson
Kelly Jackson
Reps: 103
This is a tough one! It is easy to think that the poorest child should have never been accused in the first place, however that does not help solve the problem. I would apologize profusely to the child. Tell them that you were wrong to accused him based on how much money his family has. When adults show humility and apologize, children can be forgiving. The trust between you and Steve will not bounce back immediately but it can be repaired and apologizing and accepting responsibility is the first step.
I think the most appropriate way to approach the situation is to talk to the students and find out if they have any information that might help you find the money. A lot of times, students will tell on each other to help the teacher. I feel like someone must have seen the student take the envelope. I might even tell the class that we may have to look at videos to see who took the money, if they are not aware that video cameras aren't in the classroom. I would also discuss this matter with administration. They can provide helpful advice to control the situation. They may even be able to interview students to find out information. Each students must be seen as a possible suspect, not a single student.
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Solution 55
Posted December 9, 2012 8:12 pm

Linda Swinson
Linda Swinson
Reps: 107
First of all you should apologize to Steve, this is what they say about sterotyping you assummed it was Steve because he is poor; as a teacher that was wrong and you may have offended Steve. You should talk to the whole class and tell them how important the money was and how important it is not to judge a person when you don't have all the facts.
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Solution 56
Posted February 19, 2013 6:53 pm

Hannah Brents
Hannah Brents
Reps: 25
After accusing a student of stealing money because he is poor and trying to regain his trust will be a very difficult task. I do not think that he will ever fully be able to trust his teacher again. However, I think that she should pull Steve aside from everyone so that she can apologize and admit that she made a mistake. I do not think that she should go about accusing anyone else for stealing the money for she most likely misplaced it and a student happened to pick it up, resulting that it was her fault.
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Solution 57
Posted April 8, 2014 5:13 am

Taquavia Jones
Taquavia Jones
Reps: 35
I would not have taken Steve to the office without asking him about how he got the new jacket. I have a pretty good relationship with my students, so it's not unusual to make small talk with them. If I did not believe his story after the conversation, I would have found a reason to call his father to confirm the story. I would have given a report on Steve's academic progress or behavior for the day, and maybe brought up the jacket later on. As for building that trust back, I would just be honest with Steve and apologize. I would explain how we all make assumptions and reiterate how sorry I am.
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