Friday, May 20, 2011

Roots and Wings 6

Check out my latest blog on Roots and Wings about third world internet availability and why it is important to connect.

All my biggest fears about my final exams today came to fruition.  Last night, we had a power outage and I was unable to make copies.  I thought I was not going to be able to administer the exam, but the power came on in the morning and we were able to scramble to get copies made in time for class.  Fourth grade's exam went without a hitch.  There was only one student who didn't pass and I was generally impressed with how they handled a pretty difficult 100 question test.  There is no greater feeling than to see a student who was absolutely clueless on the material last week breeze through sections of the test having adequately prepared.

I continue to write about the sixth grade because they are such a dynamic class with many attributes to praise and many to curse.  They are far smarter as a group than the fourth graders and that isn't because of their age.  The 6th grade has some unusually brilliant students.  They have all the raw talent in the world but lack any resemblance of discipline and work ethic.  If they would allow me to teach them without interruption, I am sure they would be highly conversational in English by the time the year is over.  The other problem is that they have lost their cuteness.  Fourth grade can mess up and misbehave all they want because they are adorable.  The 6th graders have a teenager attitude in an awkward prepubescent body.

I really hope I am not accused of being sexist or playing favorites, but the girls in the class are without a doubt the source of the problem.  They are the ones talking, cheating, and being generally disruptive to the flow of class with their attitude.  My original fears were that the sixth grade girls wouldn't be as prepared as the boys.  That turned out to be the least of my worries.  There is a girl in the sixth grade that always has her eyes on other people's papers.  When she didn't have her eyes on her neighbor's paper I was surprised and curious to know why she was intensely staring at her own.  I decided to take a closer look.  I knew the test was thick, but not as thick as it seemed on her desk.  I told her to lift up her exam and a study guide with all the answers was under it.  I immediately ripped up her paper and threw it in the trash.  I was really upset that I had to do that, but that was probably the least of my worries.

After everyone had turned in their exams I found that two exams had the same name on them.  Two girls switched exams when I wasn't looking and one of the students accidentally put her name on both tests.  One of the girls told me that she was thinking about the other girl and that's why she wrote her name.  I asked her if that is why she was able to copy her handwriting perfectly too.  When I was grading the exams I came upon two exams that were from two girls sitting near each other.  In the middle of the exam, the writing changes from black to pink.  One student was using a pink pen and the other a black pen.  Come on girls, at least use the same color.  Through further questioning, I found that it was a premeditated scheme the girls constructed so they wouldn't have to learn all the material.  Disappointing to say the least.  I had to fail 5 out of 13 students for cheating, which is five out of six of the girls.

The reason it is disappointing is because I feel that I am such an easy teacher and with the slightest effort whatsoever, it isn't hard to do well in my class.  You just have to participate.  I don't really value grades in an elementary class because they aren't worth anything.  It isn't as though a college will be looking at their 6th grade transcript.  What is important is the knowledge that they will take to the next steps.  I hate to sound cliche, but they are only cheating themselves.  I feel that it will at some point be necessary for them to know English, whether it is for a job that they desire or for social reasons.  I am sure their future selves are trying to slap them from the future for not having the foresight to just learn the material.  Honestly if they spent half as much time studying as they do scheming to cheat, they would have gotten 100 percent.  

What made me almost laugh was the fact that one of the girls said, "look what you are doing, it is your fault, you are making me fail English."  My fault?  How is it my fault that you cheated on the test?  Four students will be failing the entire semester because of this incident.  It is about time they learn their lesson.  Ugh, I am starting to sound like every single teacher I have ever had.

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