Thursday, September 28, 2006

Teacher rant

Today my students had their first assignment due. It was a relatively easy assignment, worth only 4% of their grade. (I didn't decide this, the coordinator for our department decides how many assignments there are and what they are worth.)

At the end of class, I asked for the assignments. After most of them were handed in and the students had left, I saw these three guys huddled at the back of the room - two of them blocking the desk of one student who was sitting down, madly writing.

I recognized the scenario. I've seen it before.

I walked back, picked up the paper the student was scribbling on, and the one he was copying from.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Just checking my answers." He stammered.

"Looks like you're copying to me." I could feel the colour in my face rising.

"No... look. I filled in the answer, but it was wrong. I was just checking it against his."

I looked. It was true. The assignment was done, crossed out and written over.

"It's still copying. I'm not marking that section."

"Aw, c'mon!" He said.

"You're copying. I'll mark the rest of the assignment, but not that section.... not for either of you."

"What?! Don't blame it on him! He didn't do anything wrong!"

"He lent you his paper. You didn't forcibly take it from him, did you?"

"No, but... It's still not his fault. Why d'ya have to do that?"

"You're copying... Right in front of me -- blatantly! What do you expect me to say? I'm academically duty-bound to do something about it. Sorry, fellas."

He looked at his friend and said, "Sorry, man."

The friend just shrugged it off, trying to be cool about it.

The two in question, along with the third who was helping to try and block my view, left together.


I hate this part of my job. I've had to deal with it before. Anyone who teaches long enough has to deal with it.

For some reason, I have only ever seen young men attempt this. I'm sure the girls have done it, but they never seem to be quite so conspicuous as to do it right in front of me.

What gets me is that they seem to think they can get away with it. They don't seem to understand that if I actually witness it with my own eyes and do nothing about it, I am the one at fault. Not only would I be a push-over, but I can be severely reprimanded by my own department head -- and rightly so -- if anyone else reported it. (It has happened -- but not to me.)

As I told these guys today, "I get paid to answer your questions. If you are not sure of an answer, ask me." In fact, I told that one fella today that his "wrong" answer was in fact, not entirely wrong, and he would have gotten part marks for it. Instead, he'll get a zero on the entire section.


Do they think I don't have eyes?

Do they think I'm just too "nice" to do anything about it?

Do they think that their 6-foot-plus frames -- in a pack of 3 -- will intimidate me?


Oh well... if it was going happen, I guess I'd rather it happen on a small assignment at the beginning of term, rather than on a big test later on. That's always ugly.

At least now we know where we stand with each other.

Still though... it's not a part of the job that I enjoy.


D said...

That sucks. You also become the bad guy - which isn't fair. Good job handling a tough situation and holding your ground.

Anonymous said...

Oi vey! I wonder if this is an argument for delayed entrance to post-secondary? Y'know, let them shed their high-school ways for a few years? Good on you, Sarah. What a pain in the patella!

wthenrest said...

ohhh looks like we are having the same kind o' week. I hate it too.

To answer your questions ...yes yes yes Cheating, lying, stealing is so overlooked in our society...
Get as much as you can for doing as little as you can.
There is a chance they'll get caught but I guess they are willing to take that chance.

Sarah there are also teachers that WOULD overlook it.

That is the thing about having the work ethic you do. It makes your job harder.

Granny said...

Good they can learn early in the term what the rules are.

backofpack said...

I had a case where a student wrote a paper about an article and attached the article. I read the article first, then the paper. She lifted word-for-word from the article! She was supposed to be summarizing the writers point of view, the opposing view and her own opinion. Every one of them was straight from the article. The only thing is...based on everything I'd observed about her in class, I'm pretty sure she didn't know any better. So then I did you get to a college level course without knowing that? It is amazing...

Turtle Guy said...

In the class I’m taking at the U. we’re encouraged to share our thoughts and ideas openly so that everyone learns. Sharing our notes, ideas and responses is encouraged – highly.

Plagiarism, however, is NOT tolerated on ANY level. By your writing here, I get the sense you were practically insulted by these fellows – thinking you’d look the other way - and rightfully so.

Perhaps you could incorporate some new vocabulary into your next lesson. For this fellow’s benefit you could start with an in depth look at el ├ętica , adding also integridad. Then you could ask him if it’s about getting a grade or getting an education.

robtherunner said...

Show em who's boss Sarah.

Janice said...

Hi Sarah,

You'd think that college men would be not do something so sophmoric, and you did what you had to do--good for you!

Now maybe, just maybe they'll know better.