We solved a mystery today in my first grade classroom. For the last few weeks, items have gone missing from some of my students' lunch boxes. Every day I was made aware of a new incident. This morning another teacher was subbing in my classroom while I attended an IEP meeting for one of my students. I returned from my meeting during our snack and story time only to witness two students arguing over a brownie.
It seems that one of my first graders brought a brownie in their lunch. This child's mom had cut the brownie in half so that she could enjoy half of the brownie during snack time and the other half at lunch. This student showed the brownie to one of her first grade friends and now it was missing. When I questioned the other child she denied it although I could see traces of chocolate around her mouth. She insisted that she had not taken the brownie and was only eating her own snack. "What did you have for your snack?" I questioned. "I don't know what it was but it was something brown." she whispered reluctantly. This was really starting to sound suspicious. "You ate something brown but you don't know what it was?" I repeated back. "Well, I think I'll call your mom and ask her about the "brown" thing she packed for your snack." I said sternly. (If it was not something brown I would have the proof I needed.)
I took this child aside to privately discuss the situation further. First she asked if she could go to the bathroom, I think this was avoidance, but I allowed her to do so. When she returned, I told her that it was important to tell the truth. I went on to say that I would find out the truth sooner or later but It would be better if she told me right now. She paused for and moment...
"Yes, I took it." she sobbed.
I'm thankful that she finally admitted what she had done. It took a lot of investigating, questioning, and observing to get to the truth. I wonder if she went to the bathroom to get up the nerve to admit what she had done? Did she think I would believe her story without investigating? What motivated her to finally tell the truth? Was it because I mentioned calling her mom to ask what snack she had prepared for her?
Our brownie biter did apologize to the other child. I also called her mom to share the situation with her. I'm not sure how this played out when she got home today, but I'm sure she learned an important lesson.
Does your school have a character development program? Do you use teachable moments for character development in your classroom? Maybe its one or the other, or a bit of both.