Tales from new teachers

14th March 2014 at 00:00
confiscation complications

The problem

It was the last lesson before Christmas break with a rowdy group of 13- and 14-year-olds. One student decided to present me with a problem: a new phone she had received as an early Christmas present.

She entered the classroom busily tapping away. I asked her to put the phone in her bag and she obliged, so I thought nothing more of it - until five minutes later, when the shiny gadget reappeared.

I quickly set about gaining possession of the phone, which, after a mini battle, was placed in my hands. The phone sat on my desk for the remainder of the lesson and it was my intention to pass it on to reception so that it could be put into the school safe.

As the bell went and I ushered the students on to their next lesson, I noticed that the phone had disappeared. Looking down the corridor, I realised that the student had taken it with her.

The options

I considered chasing the student down the corridor but my pride and dignity held me back. I asked a colleague, who advised me to pass the matter on to the year tutor and let them deal with it. Another said to leave it, as the novelty would have worn off after the Christmas break. The final piece of advice was to ring home and tell her parents what had happened.

The result

I opted to combine two pieces of advice: I passed the issue on to the student's year tutor and asked for her parents to be involved. They were very supportive of the school's decision to retrieve the phone and it was placed in the safe.

The next step came as a bit of a shock to us all, including the student. Because it was the third time she'd had her mobile confiscated, her parents had to come to school to collect it. The student was happily thinking she had got away with the incident and that the shiny phone would be in her possession once again as soon as her parents retrieved it. Unfortunately for her, mum and dad had other ideas. They decided to leave the phone in the safe until after the Christmas break.

The student has certainly learned her lesson. From the start of this term, she began handing her phone to me every time she entered my class, so that there is no risk of it being locked away again.

Daniel Bennett is a newly qualified maths teacher in Bolton, England

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