Every person fresh out of an education programs will tell you that kids cheat for a reason. Their brains aren't developed. School culture prioritizes grades over learning. Teachers invite the behavior with repeat assignments and poor monitoring. No matter the reason, it happens, so just as important is a discussion about what comes next.
I caught a student cheating on a test earlier this week. This student would've gotten a pretty good grade had he been taking the test he memorized the answers for.
I called in the student after letting an administrator know then me and the student had an honest chat. I told him that I wasn't accusing him (even though I knew he was guilty) and asked him to help me understand why he had such great answers for a version of the test his class didn't take. He was shy at first, but clearly guilty. I told him that it doesn't make him a bad person and that I understand why it happens. I also told him that it doesn't make me care about him any less and that every day is a new day. He owned up to everything and now we've moved forward. He's also been followed up with by the administration. No need to pile on to the kid. He gets the failing grade he earned and we've talked through it. Now I expect better or we'll have to be a little more aggressive about helping him learn that cheating isn't an option in my class.
As a side note, I never feel dumber as a teacher than when I'm trying to "cheat proof" things. I honestly don't care that much. I think it's a waste of my time. I think it's take responsiblity away from the kids. I feel like life will sort out the cheaters: They'll get caught, they'll grow out of it, or they'll get so good that they'll live a happy cheat filled life and never get caught.
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