“We have gathered here today to mourn our good English grades. . . “

(Who can name the person who said the quote of my title? It’s a fellow East Troy alumni)
Today my 10th grade class had a test. This wasn’t my first Georgian test. However, it was the first one not with my Difficult Teacher. I had thought that all my problems with test taking here were due to my communication and philosophy problems I have with my Difficult Teacher. That theory was proven wrong today, terribly wrong.

Classrooms are already fairly crowed. When you pack thirty students into a medium-sized classroom it becomes very difficult to spread them out during a test. The desks are crunched together. A certain amount of looking over shoulders is bound to happen just because of the limited space. Somehow, the classrooms seem even more crowed to me during a test. It is impossible to give students enough space so that they aren’t staring at their neighbors test. The staring isn’t subtle either. Students lean over the aisles to look at another test. Sometimes, they will even hold up their test for their friends to see.

Of course, this isn’t the only way students cheat. The classroom is just as noisy during a test as it is during a regular lesson which by American standards is just about at the yelling level. Students ask each other for answers or talk about what they are going to do after school. It doesn’t matter what they are saying or how loud they say it. It never crosses their mind to stop talking during an important exam.

Finally, two methods of cheating just about blew my mind. I asked the co-teacher before we started what her rules were. She said “No books, no notes, to be quiet, a regular test.” When students couldn’t find inspiration for the writing section she had them get out their books. The rule basically meant nothing. Well, not nothing, I guess. I certainly enforced the rule and took three books away from students before I saw my co-teacher look right over another student who had his book out. More shocking was the instance of one boy physically handing his test book over to another boy to finish. At that point I didn’t really care what the co-teacher did or didn’t do. That was too blatant of cheating for me. I took both of their tests away before they had finished. It won’t hurt their score much since they were already basically done. I wish it would have, though.

I discussed all the cheating with my co-teacher after the test. I can’t understand how cheating could be allowed in any way. If the students don’t understand a topic but cheat off someone who does know, how will the teacher know she needs to review the topic again. Tests are just as important for teachers as students. They help show where weaknesses are during instruction time. They help show whether the class is successfully navigating the year-long schedule to be prepared for the next year. My co-teacher just said, “They couldn’t survive without cheating.” Well, maybe it’s about time they tried. I know that many of the students who were cheating are more than capable of being successful without help. They need to have the confidence to do that.

I  know there are differences in the cultural mindset surrounding education for Georgians and Americans. This difference is just too much for me to bend for. I can’t stand there and watch students and teachers rob themselves of a great opportunity to really asses their strengths and then improve. What to do, what to do?

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