Yesterday I was scheduled to give a final exam in the afternoon hours, hours I normally have Noah with me. Since Erick is still working hard as a result of the storms that came through last week, he couldn’t take a couple of hours off to spend with Noah while I went to work. I’ve never taken Noah with me for anything like this, but given the circumstances I figured we could manage.
I took sticker books and two of his favorite coloring books along with his best markers and colored pencils. Once there, I settled him into a chair at a small table beside my podium and had him first complete his leftover classwork, then homework, and then on to his favorite artwork. He was warmly greeted by several of my students as they came in and found him there working quietly. Some had asked me to bring him to class so they could meet him( after hearing numerous Noah stories throughout the semester.) I hadn’t planned on doing so, but ended up with him there and was glad the ones who were interested in him were able to actually meet him face to face. He was clearly interested in them as well and quickly entered into conversation with those who approached him.
Once everyone was there, I asked them to clear everything other than pencil or pen from their desks, to put away all cell phones, and to settle quietly for the test. I passed out the exams and they began. I have given the “academic honesty” lecture more than once and expected and hoped for compliance. As most teachers would agree, there is an unease that comes up inside of you when you suspect cheating. You are bound, in your role as teacher, to do your best to ensure academic integrity in your classroom. I watched and noticed a couple of students who were behaving oddly as they had done on previous exams. It got to the point that I called one by name asking if he was finished and hearing his answer, “no,” I asked him to come to the front row. His eyes had clearly been on the desk next to him over and over again so I was left to deal with it.
Shortly afterwards, I walked back to the desk of the other student and found him with a cheat sheet. I took his test and the tell-tell sheet and dismissed him, walked to the student I had asked earlier to move to the front row and asked “were you cheating, too?” He answered, “no.” His test, though, revealed he had answered many questions right, those no doubt answered before I had him move away from his friend with the cheat sheet, and had grossly missed some simple answers closer to the end of the test.
Ahhh…and there sat Noah, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. When I went back to the front of the room where he was sitting he whispered his question, “were they copying, Mama, cheating?” I answered, “yes, they were.” He then asked if my school has a principle like the one at his school and went on to say, “she is kind of like a lawyer, if she asks you a question and she doesn’t believe your answer, you’re out of there, kicked out of the school!” I told him we would talk about it a little later on. Amazingly, he continued to sit quietly and work until all other students were finished, turned in their papers, and left.
I was saddened that our class ended that way. I love ALL of my students. I work with them, encourage them, truly attempt to TEACH and have them LEARN, so to end on such a negative note, having to dismiss someone due to cheating, it hurts my heart. And to have my little, not quite 6 year old, son witness this on his first visit with me to one of my classes, well, it wasn’t good at that point, not good at all…
I knew there was more for me to deal with following this event once my students were gone so I went in search of my supervisor who, thankfully, was there working. I interrupted her work with this unfortunate fiasco and she, true to her character, dealt efficiently with the issue and very sensitively with me. I truly couldn’t ask for a more wonderful lady to work with. After she sat patiently and waited for me (and Noah) to give her the details of the previous hour and a half, she printed off the appropriate forms for me to complete and took them from me to pass along to the powers that be.
Now for Noah’s part of the conversation with my supervisor whom he had never laid his bright little eyes on before…I could tell he instantly loved her and wanted to engage. After all, he had sat quietly for an hour and a half EVEN while drama was playing out before his very eyes!!!
Finally, he had someone he could share his observations with, and his contributions as well. He said, “I was acting like I was working on my sticker books and my coloring books but I was REALLY helping Mama catch the cheaters! It was kind of like being a secret agent! I even pretended like I was looking down at my shoes, but I was really watching them out of my eye…” I asked, “Noah would you please be quiet so I can finish telling her what happened?” He looked wide-eyed for a minute while he thought about that request and apparently decided, “no,” he just couldn’t do that, so he continued to fill in where I left off, or where he thought I was leaving off, and before I knew it I felt a little off balance. His tales were spinning and I was trying to grab hold of the situation and hurry along so that I could leave this kind lady to the work she was clearly in the middle of when we interrupted.
Oh my goodness…life with Noah is never boring. Before we actually left, he managed to have my dear supervisor look at a couple of jet fighters in his favorite jet fighter sticker book while he told her he has “a SWAT uniform at home, two big grenades and one little grenade.” I nudged him out into the hallway as he smiled to her still chattering about secret agents and swat teams and somehow there was mention of the tornadoes but honestly by then my own thoughts of simply removing myself (AND NOAH) from the situation took over and I lost out on the flow of Noah’s monologue. Before we were to the end of the hallway he saw a room that is filled with what looks like the work of several taxidermists and his questions about that ensued…
We made it to the grocery store and then home where I cooked dinner for Heather, Justice, and Riley while Noah played, talking the whole time, at the table there in the room with me. By the time I had him tucked, sleeping, in his bed, my mind was exhausted along with my body to the point of restlessness, so I rambled around the quiet house for a while until sleepiness finally settled in and I was able to curl up alongside Erick and fall asleep.
This morning dawned bright and beautiful and I thought of the gloominess that no doubt hangs over those two students from yesterday’s final that I dealt with concerning honesty. Noah had more questions about it this morning on our drive to school. I answered a couple and then said I really didn’t want to talk about it anymore. When he asked, “why don’t you?” I shared with him how it makes my heart sad that those students made choices that are not for their good, that I love them and wanted them to learn; how it would have been better for them to make a bad grade if they had failed to study enough than to end up in trouble from being dishonest. He seemed to ponder what I had said and he didn’t say anymore.
Maybe Noah learned an important lesson in honesty. Maybe he learned that I truly love my students and that my love for them continues even when I’m disappointed in their choices. I hope he saw that most of them were honest, were kind and sweet, thanked me at the end of class, and left on good terms. I hope he learned that I care…