I cheated ONCE in my educational career, and it is an event burned into my memory for all of time. I was sitting on my right knee, seated across from Mallory J., who everyone knew was the smartest kid in our class. I couldn’t remember if the word I had spelled ‘their’ should have been ‘thier,’ so I leaned up, up, up and peeked over her cupped arms to see if she had it spelled the same way I did. She did, of course, being the smartest kid in the class. My heart was racing; I felt so, so worried for several days that the teacher would find out about it and confront me. Worse, that she would be Disappointed in me and not like me any more. Nothing ever came of it, but it was way too traumatizing to repeat. I straight and narrowed my way through all of my degrees, though I admit that I haven’t always done my Best work, or sometimes anything even very close. Particularly if it was for a professor who I knew wouldn’t so much as open the word document attached to my email. I never sent a blank or dummy or otherwise totally inappropriate assignment, unlike some, however. What if he chose MINE to peek at! Horror.
I’ve started working at a middle school one day per week, and this has mostly taught me that I do not like middle schoolers and have no interest in having one, not ever. I could easily go on about my distaste for the slimy little beings, but I’ll refrain. Mostly, I’m doing observations in order to get a good feel for the age (which is obviously going well). If the teacher leaves the room for even a moment, despite the fact that an official-looking, badged adult taking notes on a legal pad (me, duh) still occupies the room, pandemonium breaks out. It is absolute madness. If they are taking a test or quiz of some kind, overt, hollered cheating instantaneously happens, while I stand there with my mouth agape. I’m just supposed to be observing what’s occurring with minimal interaction with the classroom, but I feel like sending all of the little hellions to the office. Or to jail. I get kind of worked up, but only in my head. I just waaatch and take nooootes like I don’t care at all.
Today, I was observing a student in a classroom in which the teacher, known for being one of the stricter in her building, remained throughout my 30 minute occupation of it. The students first did a “mad minute” of math facts, then another five minute long timed quiz. First, hardly any of the kids waited for the teacher to tell them to start, then they were asking their neighbors for answers (“What’s eight times six?!”), and THEN they kept working while the teacher was lecturing later. And only once did the teacher confront a child about this INSANE MISBEHAVIOR AND OVERT CHEATING WHY OH WHY. And there I go. I hold it in alllll day, and then emotionally vomit all over you poor people. Now, the only ways I can think to go forward to is to bemoan society and the future and I don’t know that this is a healthy option. Or brief. So, I will let you come to your own conclusions about the hopelessness of the next generations. I mean, hope! I mean, c’mon, guys, have a lot of babies and teach them not to cheat. You can do it. We can do it, together.
In defense, I’m in watching these kiddos because they have some kind of learning/behavior problem (the two are usually more closely linked than most people want to acknowledge). I’m not watching the good kids in the high achieving classes. I’m sure those kids are amazing and honest. Deep breath.