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Stealing takes just a second. Character takes longer.

 I love the students at my school, and that’s one reason why I’ve stuck around for 12 years.

But unfortunately, they steal a lot of my stuff.

The thieves like tech. This year, it’s been my computer speakers, my timer, and a cheap webcam. Nothing major — nothing like last year, when my netbook was stolen, or a few years back, when it was my video camera.

I try to keep stuff locked up, but sometimes, that’s not the first thing on my mind. Besides, you can’t use computer speakers, timers, and webcams if they’re always locked up in the cabinet.

But this is not a post about how kids are bad, or how I’m frustrated. Rather, it’s a post about the limits of community.

At our school, teachers and students have a strong relationship. There is a sense of family. Our vision focuses on personalization so that students feel valued and do not fall through the cracks.

But no matter how strong the community, it’s not as strong as the power of poverty. Community takes months — even years — to build, but the act of stealing takes just a second. It takes time for us to instill strong character and moral values, and in the meantime, that iPod left on the table sure looks nice.

To be clear: In no way am I pardoning the students who have taken my stuff. It’s their fault, and it’s sad that they’re stealing from me and from their education. Sometimes I think, “If they respected me more, they wouldn’t steal.” But I know that it’s not personal.

Still, it’s irritating to have to buy the same thing twice, especially when it’s something that many richer suburban and private schools provide their teachers. It gets me to question whether teaching is worth it. 


  1. John at TestSoup

    Don’t give up! I am truly grateful for what you’re doing — and I’m not even in your classes!

    You are one of the good ones.

    Just remember that, when and if you do feel the need to move on, that you’ve made a difference, and that you should feel no guilt over it whatsoever.

    • Mark Isero

      Thanks, John. My inability to improve student achievement, not student stealing, would be my reason to leave teaching. That’s what I’m trying to figure out with my AP English class this year. Thank you again for following my blog.

  2. John at TestSoup

    Just don’t get discouraged. You may never know how much you’re helping your students. Grades don’t tell the whole story. And as the saying goes, “if you can just get through to one…”

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