teaching


I had my student’s submit questions they wanted to answer in our test answer writing unit.  Somebody suggested describing their worst day and how it affected them.  Sounded good–so it was one of the choices.

NEVER ASK ABOUT A STUDENT’S worst day.  If you are anything like me, you will cry as you read the answers.

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I can finally start to feel SOME things calming down.  I still have loads to do, but I feel like the end is in sight:

1. Thesis is due tonight!!!  Can’t wait to cross that one off my list.

2. 10 page papers are all graded.  I stayed up until midnight so I could get them accomplished.  I would be more excited, but another plagiarizer in the bunch.  He says to me, “Yah I probably should have cited more.”  OR, done your own damn work.

3. Wedding thank yous.  All that is left is to address the envelopes and buy a few more stamps.  I will be so glad not having that hanging over my head.

4. I got a new job, so no more searching!

5. Even the house, though there is still much to be unpacked, feels manageable.  I got a lot done last night, now just need to keep picking away at all the crap in the garage.

6. When I think about the grading left to do, I still get a little twitchy, but with less than two weeks left of seniors (who make up about 90% of my classes), I feel like I can make it.

There’s still a lot to do, but I’ve accomplished more than I would have ever in a million years thought possible at this time last year.  It’s a good feeling.

I was offered a new job yesterday.  AND I AM TAKING IT!  I love my current job in a lot of ways, but it’s also a very frustrating place to be for a new teacher who needs other teachers in her content area for support and yet do not have any.  It’s also implausible to stay in the current job because I literally get paid six times a year.  They’re big ol’ checks, but I’ve got bills to pay and I can’t go from July to October without getting paid.

This job is a little less money, but I will have a support system.  I’ll have training and a mentor.  It’s really a great move for me, and I loved the new school, even though I wasn’t so sure at working at a private school.  After interviewing and touring, I was in love.  And, they seemed to really like me too, which is also a plus.

So, all of the sudden I fee like I have a new life.  A wife, a homeowner, an English teacher without having to qualify exactly what I do (dual enrollment).

With this “new life” I am thinking about changing the name of the blog.  These aren’t just brushes anymore, adulthood is here rearing its simultaneously ugly and wonderful head.  But, I am terrible at titles.  The process might take a while, but the URL will stay the same.  So, keep coming back to the same Bat place, don’t be thrown if you see a new Bat title.

May 3rd-Out!

It is amazing how people are different.  Is it a time thing, a locale thing, a parent thing?

I am sitting here thinking about the three chapters of my thesis due Tuesday and how I am never going to finish.  I am thinking of all the possible ways to finish (Much Mt. Dew and a full weekend of all-nighter writing? Turning in half the pages and hoping for the best?  Inventing a time machine and a non-procrastinator machine?).  And, it occurred to me, that though I have 8 billion things to do, all of which have deadlines, it has not even momentarily occurred to me to plagiarize.

Of course, the only reason it even occurred to me sitting here is because I confronted one of my plagiarizers today.  As I suspected, she claimed she did not understand what she did wrong.  She said she cited.  I pointed out she didn’t use these things called quotation marks.  Also, there were paragraphs where there was plenty of plagiarism and NO citing.  She still claimed ignorance, but accepted the grade and that she wasn’t going to put a fast one on me.  We talked and will discuss some options to possibly get her to not fail the class.  I don’t want her to fail the whole class for one mistake–even if it’s a huge mistake that I talked with the whole class about multiple times.

Never, in my many years of schooling did plagiarism occur to me as an option (or as a confusion).  Not to say I NEVER accidentally plagiarized a line or two.  I’m willing to be my paraprasing wasn’t always perfect–but it was never on purpose and never more than a few lines.

Perhaps it was my confidence as a writer.  I did feel it was my one scholastic achievement, and it never occurred to me to let someone else do the work when I could do it and get an A.  But, that isn’t it–because my procrastinator tendencies have gotten me into way too much trouble to really have my abilities be the thing keeping me from it.

Perhaps it was the way I was raised.  The difference between right and wrong was always emphasized in our house.  Not in terms of religion or even laws, but in terms of how we act, what we should do as good, decent people–and this was taught by example.  My parents did the best they could.  The easy road was rarely proposed and rarely taken.  My Dad called gambling “ill-gotten gains” and, though not morally opposed, rarely participated.  He wanted to do his own work and be rewarded for that, not have something fall into his lap.  It wasn’t that we were preached at to be “good”–we were shown how by my parents and grandparents.  And so, just like smoking and drinking never appealed to me, stealing and cheating never appealed to me either.

In the end, I actually feel sorry for my students who take the easy way out.  Who see cheating and plagiarizing as a way to “get through.”  Who see it as no big deal and something that has to be done because they’ve got too much else to do.  These students who feel they’re owed something, who feel their education is a waste.  Because, in the end they really are harming themselves.  The hard part, though, is that while they’re hurting themselves, they’re hurting their whole generation.

And so, I try to focus on the ones that amaze me.  The ones that come to school with a positive attitude.  The ones that do their work to the best of their ability while balancing extra curriculars and social status.  The ones that don’t just “want” an A, but work for it.  The people I know I will see running the world in a few decades.  There aren’t many, but there are some and I think I need to learn, as a teacher, to show my appreciation to these students and to realize all is not lost for our future.

Apparently, I signed up for NaBloPoMo yesterday.  Why?

I DO NOT KNOW.

It was as if my fingers began acting of their own accord, because when it occured to be this morning that I had signed up, I thought–surely, I must be dreaming.  I do not have time for this!

Yet, here I am

The best part of today, though?  Knowing that seniors will be gone in 3 weeks (leaving me with just one class a day) and juniors will be gone in four.  The end is in sight… barely across all this grading…but it’s there waving at me.

Yes, I have lost it.

I just gave two students a zero on their final paper worth 20% of their grade.

Why?  Why else: plagiarsim.

This is my first year of teaching, so I know that ugly little guy will continue to pop up in my life, but I find myself saddened by this.  One student plagiarized 95% of his/her paper.  The other about 80% (though I think more is plagiarized I just can’t find it).  At first, I kept trying to excuse it.  They didn’t understand the difference between paraphrase and plagiarize–I mean, we only went over it multiple times.  Surely, there’s some excuse.

But, there’s really not.  I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but this isn’t one paragraph.  This is MULTIPLE pages in a ten page paper.  Sentences upon sentences.  Words I know these students couldn’t even define if they tried.  And, it’s really sad.  I can’t even be angry, because in the end–they lowered their grade 20%.  I’ll likely hear from the counselor and their parents that I’m not being fair.  In the end, excuses will be made for these girls and I will be the bad guy.

Of course, this makes me question myself.  How many other papers have I missed over the course of the semester?  Was this a one time thing–or something they thought they could get away with because they have.  If it was one, I think I could write it off.  But two–right in a row–it makes me question a lot.

In exactly 22 minutes, I will be released! I don’t think even my students are as excited as I am for this 10 day respite.

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And, since I know you’re all DYING to know what I’ll be doing with my 10 days (besides taking pictures of myself jumping on the bed), here’s a sneak peek!

1) I have vowed to stay up as late as I want and sleep as late as I want and damn the consequences! Usually I am afraid to get off a normal sleeping schedule because I do have trouble sleeping, but I say screw it!

2) Work on the 3 chapters of my thesis that are due the first week of May that I should have been working on the past two months. Unfortunately, this school work takes precedence because April isn’t going to be a month of time for me to do such things.

3) Grade, organize, plan so that I have to do as little as possible in those departments upon my return. Starting Easter weekend, my life is going to go crazy–wedding stuff, wedding, moving into house–all things that require a lot of time. So, I need to get as much work done so that April I can focus on my life and have the teaching part be all taken care of.

4) Clean “The Closet.” I’ll explain this later–and document it with photos. Sheer words can not explain what I will be tackling.

5) State taxes. Need to do these.

6) Clean the entire apartment, getting rid of excess crap we don’t need when we move into the house.

7) Some wedding odds and ends (Flower girl dresses, shoes for me and bridesmaids, addressing things)

Not exactly the most fun list (especially in comparison to my family who is off to gallivant around California), but I think I am in the state of mind where I just need to have some time for me, going at my own pace. Hopefully the weather will stay nice and I can also go out exploring/experimenting with the new camera as well.

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