Saturday, October 11, 2014

Start of a New Year- Cheating, Plagiarism, and Collusion - Oh My!

I promised myself that when this year started, I would blog every week. And then, I turned around and it is October! I could just admit defeat, but instead I am just being honest and blogging now.

I wanted to share an honest glance into my classroom to see the successes and failures - both of which happen and the later more frequently than the former. But failures are ok.

I tell my students on their first day that I expect them to fail in my class. Usually they freak out and I explain the difference between the importance of the preposition "in" and not the whole class. We have conditioned kids to play the game of school so well that they equate failure with failing the class - which is really worrisome for me as an educator.

If we are supposed to be preparing our students for life after high school, then they need to learn how to deal with failure because - NEWS FLASH- it will happen. And they need to learn how to deal with it and see is as a learning experience and not a judgement on their life in general. Learning how to deal with setbacks is such a crucial skill that will help them succeed long after they forget how to diagram a sentence.

What does that look like in my class? Here is an example of something that happened. While grading their summer assignment, it became apparent to me that over 80% of them had participated in some short of cheating/plagiarsm. I was floored and hurt. I could have just decided to give them all zeros and get a stern talking to from myself, but instead I chose another path. I invited the principal and the librarian and my DP coordinator into my room and we all had a heart to heart conversation about the consequences of their actions when they get to college. But that was only the first part of my plan, the second part was much harder. I gave them 48 hours to come forward and do two things: 1. admit what they had done and take responsibility and 2. come up with their own punishment for us to discuss.

This may seem crazy but I wanted to teach the kids how to advocate for themselves when they make a mistake. They need to learn how to talk with someone and own up to a mistake and then how to be proactive and learn from it. It was the most humbling experience that I have ever been a part of and I am so proud of them for what they did- not the cheating but being a responsible young adult. And for that, I am thankful.

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