I loved test days as a teacher. The serene quiet. The barely audible scribbles of the pens/pencils. A calm in the midst of the storm.
Yesterday I witnessed one of my co-teachers give a test. I had heard stories of rampant cheating during tests, so my expectations were low. I was simply going to be an observer.
The teacher started off with a solid no-nonsense approach to the test. She separated all of the desks to ensure no cheating. I was impressed. The students looked like they knew they were having a test, which is also good. She quickly got them seated and ready to take it.
A couple of logistical things that I noticed had to be dealt with, and it seems she dealt with them in the best equitable way possible. She assumed not everyone had paper, so she handed out paper to everyone. The second obstacle she tried to hurtle was the lack of resources problem. There is a very low supply of paper, so she used a Review section in their workbook that they all have for their Test. Good idea on one hand because she doesn’t have to print off a class set of tests. Bad on the other hand, because several ambitious students had already filled out the answers. I don’t think they did it maliciously, but they had the answers nonetheless.
Now, the problems…
It is erroneous to assume that all students have textbooks. I mentioned in an earlier post that the families of the students must pay for the books themselves. So obviously if you can’t pay, you won’t have a book. And one student didn’t have a textbook, so he had to share. But that obviously jeopardized test security.
I think there is still a lingering method of disciplining students based on the Soviet style of teaching. And that’s to make an example of one so everyone else will fall in line. Two examples of this: Going back to the student’s who completed the exercise already… I noticed in the beginning that one student, super smart girl, had her book open. So I casually went over to shut it, but the teacher spoke to me and said that they needed to use their books because the test was on page so-and-so. She then turns to that page in the student’s book. When she saw it was completed already, she threw a minor fit, but switched books with the student. But she didn’t use this opportunity to see who else did the same thing. I don’t know if it was willful blindness, or too much was on her mind or what. But with one walk across the room, it was obvious others had completed the test already. Some were frantically trying to erase the answers. About ten minutes into the test, she noticed a student (bless this girl’s heart) who had her book closed and was trying to answer the questions from memory and without looking at the questions! The teacher obviously thought this was odd. And only then noticed that that student, too, had completed assignment previously. To this student, however, she publically berated. Yelling and screaming and making this noise with her mouth that Georgians do to indicate disgust. The kid was thoroughly embarrassed, or at least I was for her, but she took it like a champ. The other students either just watched wide eyed, or tried to cover/ erase the answers in their books. But again, the teacher didn’t try to observe who else had written answers in their books!
I also noticed that the students weren’t putting their names on their papers, which is a universal thing that students fail to do. In the past, I simply announced, several times, for them not to forget to write their names. Some STILL forget. I mentioned this to the teacher, and she kind of brushed it off, as if to say, “Of course they will write their names. Don’t worry.”
Well the original student who was able to switch textbooks with the teacher finished first and early. She turned it in to the teacher and sat back down. The teacher perused the paper for a couple of seconds. And then again, threw a tantrum in front of the class scolding the student. All of this was done in Georgian of course, but I knew from context clues (and the girl getting up to go mark on her paper) that the egregious error was not putting her name on her paper. Everybody else hurriedly wrote their name on their paper. Now I think she COULD have handled this differently. She could have called the student back up to her desk calmly and asked her to put her name on the paper, then announce to the class to do the same. But I think she opted for her route because with the shock value, NO ONE was going to forget now. No one wanted to end up like Helena, for goodness sake!
30 minutes into the test the cheating started. First it was a quick glance over to the next paper. Then it was full on swivel in the chair. The most blatant that I saw was a very weak English student gave the whole book to his friend in front of him. The friend filled out the whole test, and returned it to him. All done while I was standing right there in front of them. I would (should) have taken action, but when he got the book back there were three minutes left in the class and there was no way he was going to finish in time. But in hindsight I think I might have inadvertently set a precedent for myself and his future behavior when I give a test.
Now there is no way the teacher did not notice the same things, although she was sitting at her desk appearing very busy for most of the time. So does it come down to a matter of ‘looking the other way’? Possibly.
This week was the beginning of a national spelling competition. My co teacher organized it on behalf of our school. The participants were divided 8th and 9th graders in one group and 10th – 12th in another group. The competition was conducted in written format, which made it less exciting, but with time constraints it was for the best.
Our competition day was today. I obviously got there a little late because when I entered the room, the participating 8th and 9th graders were ready and waiting. After only teaching and dealing with the little ones for thus far, it was a little weird seeing so many older students gathered in one place. We were mutually happy to see each other.
The routine for the competition was I would read the word in English and my counterpart would translate it to Georgian and I would repeat it once more. They had 20 words to write. Then the process was repeated for the 10 thru 12 grade group. I don’t know how many students opted not to participate (Lado did not come) but the ones who did show up did surprisingly well. We had to do a run off in both groups.
Now the winners from our school goes to the regional competition in Ozurgeti soon, and then the nationals held in Tbilisi.
Our school is going to win.
P.S. I was able to sneak some more pictures of another classroom.They are posted in the Photo Tab: My School in Georgia
“Don’t call it a comeback
I been here for years
Rockin my peers and puttin suckas in fear
Makin the tears rain down like a MON-soon
Listen to the bass go BOOM
Over the competition, I’m towerin
Wreckin shop, when I drop these lyrics that’ll make you call the cops
Don’t you dare stare, you betta move
Don’t ever compare
Me to the rest that’ll all get sliced and diced
Competition’s payin the price
I’m gonna knock you out
Mama said knock you out!”
Mama Said Knock You Out, LL Cool J