While grading a worksheet for Of Mice and Men, I realized that some students had the same answer – word for word. More shocking was that some of the offending answers were WRONG! Ten students in all. Now this wasn’t a huge group cheatfest it was smaller groups, 2-3, that copied 1 or 2, sometimes more, answers from one another. On the suggestion of another teacher I talked to all of them together and made each of them call home and explain what they had done and the consequences (redoing the work for half credit – pretty generous).
Now I am a calm person, I don’t get angry often, I don’t take things that the kids (or most adults) say or do personally. If you know me then you know that this is true, most of my friends have never seen me truly angry. Something was different this time though; I found my voice starting to tremble, my heart racing, and my hands shaking. I found myself becoming very upset at what they had done. I’m still not sure why I became so upset. It really bothered me that they would cheat. The work isn’t real challenging but it does require them to be reading carefully. They have plenty of time to complete the work and I tell them over and over that I’m available during school, after school, and by email. Not one of them ever asked for help though – which leads me to believe that it was sheer laziness. Very frustrating. I hope that they, and the rest of the students, have learned that there are consequences if they make poor choices.