I hate cheating.
I hate it.
I hate that I spent a month teaching what I think is really great content, only to see 5 of my students plagiarize entire essays.
I hate that there are kids in my room who deemed it okay to steal sentences and paragraphs from their classmates without them ever knowing.
I hate having to worry about our "future generation" and their lack of work ethic, and this growing tendency to take the easy way out.
I hate wasting 15 minutes of a Saturday afternoon reading and grading a paper while my wife takes my one-year old to the park, only to realize while reading the conclusion paragraph that the entire thing was ripped off from Yahoo Answers.
I hate when students think I am too dumb to realize when they are cheating.
And I think I hate it most because it's like a big x-ray spotlight aimed deep beneath my skin, exposing my faults and revealing my inadequacies.
I am not a perfect teacher. Students do not always feel comfortable enough to tell me when they are struggling with something, and so they cheat to get by.
I am not always great at delivering content. My lecturing can be boring and confusing. Class discussion can leave my visual learners alone in their thoughts. Inquiry-based activities where I leave the researching and learning up to my students can cause anxiety to bubble in the blood of my left-brain thinkers, causing an instinctive fear that what they are doing is wrong; so they cheat.
I assign hard papers. My students take hard tests. I think the work they do is very meaningful, but it is very hard.
Back in college, I used to say that my classroom management would just be to create an environment where students are so engaged that working hard and behaving themselves would just be a byproduct.
Sounds easy right? (Veteran teachers, this is your cue to giggle)
I want my students to be hard-working people who want to learn and grow. And so when I see cheating, I am not getting what I want.
I'm left with this question:
Is it pressure? Boredom? Ignorance? Laziness? Culture? The system? Me?
I know there is not an easy answer to this question, and I know it is one that has been asked by teachers and leaders for thousands of years.
But it is still unsettling, and one that should be asked again and again and again.