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How do I protect my personal property in the classroom?

I decorate my classroom with my own posters and keep my own books on classroom shelves. I often use my own electronic equipment to present special material during lessons. Any advice on protecting these valuable personal items?

The beginning of a new school year is a great time to inventory and label items you keep at school. Put your name on your posters, in your books, and on other personal items. Make a list of such personal items and keep a copy at home as well as at school. The list will help someone retrieve your personal property if some emergency keeps you from school; help you claim insurance or replace items if accident or vandalism at school damages your property; or help you pack for a move if you change teaching assignment or classrooms. 

Be sure your posters, books, and recordings are approved for school use. Maybe you have personal copies of books or recordings included in your grade level and subject curriculum or reading lists. Otherwise you need to comply with school requirements to have administrators approve classroom materials. As I wrote in another column, students may be required to read Romeo and Juliet but not allowed to view a recorded performance of the same play. Your local UniServ Director can help you review questions about supplementing classroom material.

Does your school give teachers locked storage space to secure your handbag, briefcase, satchel, or backpack? Work with your local Association colleagues if your school does not already provide teachers safe storage for personal items. 

Consider whether you can keep your cell phone or personal digital assistant safely with you or should lock it up with your bag. Respect school rules on when and where you can make or take calls.
Your school may list school property for inventory and insurance purposes. Make sure lists accurately reflect the contents of your classroom and comply with requirements for signing items out or in, or reporting damage. You don’t want to face questions because school property is missing, lost, or damaged. 

Check whether your school accepts responsibility for loss or damage to teacher-owned property that is kept at school for school business. You may have to register such property with the building principal. Double check provisions of your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance since your own insurance may be your only protection against loss or damage to your personal property. Consult your own insurance agent or advisor about policy limits or special coverage for such items as your guitar, electronics, or business personal property.

Here’s one more thing to consider: Some teachers even raise pets in their classrooms as a learning experience. Note that property insurance does not cover animals. Assume you are responsible for all care and expense of classroom animals unless you and authorized school official agree and document another arrangement. Make sure you can care for classroom pets during school holidays or if school closes for weather or emergency, and that you have back-up arrangements if you can’t be at school. 

Contact your local UniServ Director for help reviewing rules and requirements governing personal property brought to or kept at school and to work with local Association colleagues to assure teachers safe storage for personal property.


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