Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Calling B.S.


I had been warned that a new student coming into my class might have the potential for some trouble.  Usually when multiple colleagues roll eyes at the mention of a name, it is a warning to be aware. 

On the fourth day of his tenure in my class we had a textbook quiz.  In my class, quizzes are shown on the Smart Board and the students answer the questions on paper in a limited time frame.  Then students exchange papers, grade them, and we are done in less than 10 minutes easy.  I stood on the other side of the room watching said student trying to work out the quiz.  It was obvious that the text reading was not completed because the quiz had absolutely nothing on it.  I mean it was totally empty.  The question was going the to be the reaction when the grading exchange came along.  Does the student pass back an empty paper, simply give up and pass back nothing, or try and con me?  I called “time’s up”, announced the exchange of papers for grading, and watched as the student kept his blank paper………and the paper of the student behind him. 


I started through the grading process and immediately it was evident that he was going to copy answers during the grading time from the other student’s paper to his own.  I watched him throughout the process as he picked and chose the answers carefully, not writing everything down as to give it away.  I acted totally ignorant to the situation and finished going through the answers, slowly walking over to his position in the room.  After finishing the answers and right before calling for all papers to be passed forward, I stopped in front of the student’s desk.

“You don’t really think you’re going to turn that in do you?”

The class went dead silent.  It was kind of funny watching him slowly try to hide and crumple up his paper with all the other students watching with bemused looks on their faces.  He had little room in which to maneuver.  He grinned, shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “Oh well, I guess I got caught”, and handed forward the other student’s graded work.  I wasn’t quite finished though.

“Take your paper and put a zero on it and turn it in.  And I want you to remember something; it does no good to B.S. me because I am the ultimate” 

His look was priceless, and the students in class giggled, mainly because they knew it was partly serious and partly an introduction to atmosphere of the class.  It was also a warning.  The upperclassman in high school would have been tossed in many cases, and probably written up as well.  This time he was notified that his one break was given to him and the only manure flinging around the class was going to be from the teacher. 

Was it effective?  That incident was weeks ago and I haven’t had a single problem with the young man.  Sometimes when you mix a little shock-and-awe with un-politically correct ways of doing things, you might get interesting results.  A referral and dismissal would have signaled “the usual” for this kid, and I might have lost him for the rest of the year by Day Four.  At least now he realizes that the class is different, a little edgy, and he’s made the effort to attend regularly. 

He’s bought in with no B.S.   

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