Isn’t it disappointing, shocking even, that the majority of my 10th graders were floored to discover I actually read their essays/quizzes/assignments?!
I’m dismayed that their perception and sometimes reality is that their work isn’t read or appreciated by teachers. This has led to a few students becoming emboldened to turn in work that is not their own and goes beyond plagiarism. Last week, one student’s response to a prompt resulted in her copying the first few paragraphs of an article used to aid them in their response. She didn’t even try to pretend to answer the question. At a (VERY) quick glance it looked like she responded thoughtfully to the prompt, but if you take a few more seconds to read over a sentence or two it is clear the work is not her own.
I’m left with a scarily indifferent feeling, numb maybe? Some people might blame the student for a lack of effort and cheeky stunt. While I’m not impressed with her I’m also not angry. Others might direct their frustration toward her other teachers. I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle. To be clear, I think it is unacceptable for a teacher to shirk their assessment responsibilities.
However, I believe this situation is evidence of a larger problem. Teachers spend too much of their own time (weekends, evenings, incredibly early mornings, and ultimately time away from their family/friends) to do our jobs as well as we would like. I spend countless hours planning, grading, and thinking about my students and classroom when I should probably be walking my dog, making a nice meal, or catching up with friends. None of this is compensated and has led me down a scary path this school year. I thought my second year teaching would be easier and in some ways it is. BUT, and this is a big but, I struggled this year with anxiety and burn out. April, my very least favorite month of the school year, was the culprit. My husband became worried about me and nervously expressed his worry over dinner one night. We’ve talked about having kids in the near future and he was curious to know how my job (stress, anxiety, frustration, exhaustion) affects me now and might affect us in the future. He recognized before I did how unhappy and burnt out I was. My work/life balance has been unhealthy to say the least.
I have no solutions here but hope that I am lucky enough to surround myself with loving and supportive family, friends, and colleagues. Life is a constant balancing act and I know my own (future) children will throw me off balance daily, hourly? As the school year winds down and summer looms in the not-so-distant future remember to take care of yourself as we struggle to finalize grades and read those damn essays!