Saturday, April 24, 2004

first week down

It's been an interesting week. It feels a lot longer than just five days, but 'beginning again' always takes more effort. It's great to see all the kids again and to catch up on all the 'goss' (theirs and colleagues).

The Y12s had a SAC this week (School Assessed Coursework). A text response paper/essay. They could choose b/w writing on Stolen (Jane Harrison) or GATTACA (Andrew Niccol) - most wrote on Stolen as we have not yet finished or covered GATTACA well enough, (although this didn't stop some attempting to write on it).

The big issue was a cheating incident. A young man took in a pre-written paper and attempted to pass it off as work completed in the SAC. Although it most probably was his own work - this is an obvious breach of the authentication process - i.e. I cannot truly say that it is his work only. Students are allowed three periods to complete the paper and must do the majority of work in class - individual schools set up the exact conditions - for example, we decided to give the students the essay topics before the Easter holidays so they could prepare and practice writing on the topics. They were instructed to bring only a pen to the SAC classes. in some ways the way we set up the task has made this incident possible, but we hope that it has also given those students who are willing to put in the effort a better chance at doing well. The young man in question began OK, but the trouble started when we took a recess break. On the way out of the room, a couple of students asked if they could take only a short break and then resume writing - this was OK with me. So while the students were off, I took a few minutes to enjoy the morning tea that the wonderful HN (!) had organised. As i sat and ate Neenish tarts, I watched as some of my students wandered back into the room to begin writing again (they're the ones I trust).

When the recess break was over, students resumed. I was cruising the room and noticed one student using a Novel study guide!

"I'm not reading it!" was his defence (this is not the guy above, but another). So after removing the offending book he contined - this one needs follow up - he'll need to repeat this work.

A the end of the class three students (female) approach me and I have a feeling they have something nasty to tell me. They wait till the others have left the room and then tell me they saw this young man bring in a pre-written essay and slide it into his notes (before I entered the room to resume the SAC). Further to this, while he was he looking back at those who were watching on incredulously, he said, 'Lick my balls!' while grabbing himself (yep).

Arrogance, underhandedness, full-knowledge and understanding, unremorseful.

I had the girls write up a 'statement' and sign it, then I checked his work and found that it was indeed written on different paper stock than that I had provided for the SAC (similar but still undeniably different). Later in the day the Senior School Coordinator and I meet with this fool (sorry) and layed the evidence out. He of course denied knowing anything about it. He almost lost control and threated to 'get his mates' onto those who were accusing him (we didn't even mention that anyone had accused him of anything!). He left very upset.

Next day he partly confesses to bring in a prepared 'introduction', "because I'm not very good at introductions to my essays".

It remains to be seen what happens in this case, but something serious needs to be done about it. Other students needs to know that we think it important enough to do something, he needs to know that this is a VERY serious offense (he doesn't understand this yet), and the faculty needs to ensure it sends a message to all students that this sort of action will get you nowhere - in fact it will jepardise your final year at school - and therefore also your plans for tertiary study. This young man wants to fly planes.

During this whole episode, I have been feeling fairly stressed. The pressure on me to explain my actions and defend my position; to put up with snide comments from this young man's friends - these need to be dealt with as well. These young 'toughs' are generally a law unto themselves and do not respest most women, let alone a new young male teacher. I will arrange a meeting with each of them and outline what has happened and 'lay the smack down'. I think this would be one way to get it out in thw open and quash any snide backchat about ramifications re: cheating and the uncovering of such things.

It's good to know I have the full support of my colleagues in the English faculty (thanks guys).

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