At the end of every school year, I feel like I am about to abandon my mining claim in a lawless territory. Like I must protect myself from raiders and scavengers. I've stopped short of digging a pit and covering it with loose floor tiles. Or staging a ceiling-tile collapse to discourage invaders. And I'm pretty sure a wooden sign with Trespassers Will Be Shot on Sight would be frowned upon by the administration.
You can't feign surprise. Anybody who has ever worked in a school setting knows that nothing really belongs to you. Oh, you can put your name on each piece of equipment with a BIC Wite-Out Correction Pen. But that stuff scrapes off hard plastic after it dries. And if you plan to mark your furniture with masking tape emblazoned with your name, be ready to stick that label in a secret location. Because claim-jumpers feel no shame when it comes to de-taping your items and applying their own sticky brand.
Most scalawags aren't brazen enough to set foot on your actual claim. They wait until your room contents are pastured in the hall during floor-waxing season. It's like an educational-institution bazaar. Who can resist such shiny gewgaws, untethered, unpriced, with nobody to barter with concerning their worth?
Surely you don't believe that teachers report back to school early in August to ready their rooms for the upcoming year. They are trying to get the jump on the claim-jumpers. To assess what is missing, and mount a room-to-room search to get their stuff back. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, you know. If you can find your stuff, nobody is going to start mouthing about how the stuff they stole over the summer has disappeared.
Perhaps you think I'm exaggerating. That Val is up to her old shenanigans again. But I assure you, my fear is founded in fact. To date, I have returned to find the following items missing from my classroom over the years: a doorstop, a three-hole punch, a stapler, four student desks, five student chairs. a healthy matching desk swapped for a dilapidated non-matching desk, a teacher's rolling chair, a television, a SmartBoard, a projector that projects computer images and audiovisual materials. (Not just a regular reel-to-reel projector. Good gracious! This is not the Dark Ages. You might as well confuse it with a filmstrip projector or a mimeograph machine).
Some thieves are more subtle. They only take parts. A theft which may not be discovered until the school year is underway. For example, a cord that connects a VCR to a television. That happened to one of my buddies. She stamped her foot, shouted out the alleged perpetrator's name, and hot-footed it over to his room. She barged in, yanked the cord loose from his set-up, and absconded with the loot. He did not bat an eye. An easy conviction in the court of peer opinion. (Don't bother to mention the obsoleteness of VCRs and televisions. We're talking about a public school, here. And it IS pretty much the Dark Ages as far as library materials are concerned. Plenty of VHS media to be had, with only a few methods of playing them).
I'm going to be on edge all summer. I am pretty particular about my STUFF.