I caught 5 students plagiarizing. Deliberately. When I asked them why, only one student responded, and he blamed it on laziness.
My disappointment and anger over the incident left a bitterness in my mouth. It was quite tangible. And it made me realize something -
I love my job.
Not the standardized tests and hoops we have to jump through. Not the constant meetings and incessant data entry and compilation. The every day interaction with youth and promise for our future. And there is promise for our future.
With the exception of one, I've never had these students before their junior year with me. And our school is large enough that I don't recall having seen three of them until they walked into my classroom in August. But in the 6 1/2 months I've had these classes, I've gotten to know my students. These 'kids' all have their own personality, their own hopes and dreams, their own fears and weaknesses.
It is frightening to think of the broad future and where we're headed as a society. It is easy to say our youth are typical teens who are lazy, disrespectful, and take the easy way out. But it is angering to blindly apply these labels to all teenagers.
We were young once. We all got tired. We all made mistakes. We all took shortcuts. But it is through these experiences that we learned more about ourselves, that we grew from our mistakes. And it usually stemmed from having disappointed someone.
I am still very angry at these students. I am even more disappointed in their choice of actions. All five have so much potential for their future. All five are smart, funny, interesting kids with eclectic tastes and talents. All five made a mistake.
I just hope getting caught in flagrante delecto and seeing the sadness on my face was the point of recognition needed to help them move in the right direction. I hope this is a lesson that will stay with them even until they are the ones disappointed in their children, or students, etc.
And for myself, the sheer ability of this incident to illicit the reaction I had demonstrated to me why I will continue in this profession. I see so much hope and potential in tomorrow's leaders. And I appreciate knowing that I am instrumental in helping them all know someone expects more.