Teacher BehaviorWhat should a teacher's response be when other teachers, going through an advanced degree program to become administrators, talk outloud about taking papers from online sources,...

Teacher Behavior

What should a teacher's response be when other teachers, going through an advanced degree program to become administrators, talk outloud about taking papers from online sources, changing a few words, and then turning them in as their own work--all within hearing distance of students?

Asked on by ask996

29 Answers

trophyhunter1's profile pic

trophyhunter1 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Of all the things that students remember, they always recall the hypocrisy of adults or the pseudology of teachers, parents, and others whom they rely upon.  Sadly, these adults have set a truly poor example.  How discouraging for you.

Post #7 is a great remark because it is non-judgmental, at least not overtly.  Perhaps by saying something like this, the others will not label you as having "an attitude" ; in this way you will not invite their resentment and pettiness to be turned toward you, as so often happens.  It is amazing how the wrong always turn incidents like this around.  Worst case scenario:  You might end up working for one of them when he/she becomes a principal.

P.S. The same conversation occurred here.  Could this be an indication of the inadequacy of some people who leave classrooms and go into administration?

First of all, they have no business discussing this in front of their students, as it is inappropriate. That said, it is sad to think that they will be someone's administrator. It sounds like they are dishonest and not talented. However, I think the teacher should be spoken with on the side, not in front of the students and point out that you are a role model and the students learn from what we teach and how we act in front of them.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I'm continually amazed by teachers, of which I am one.  We expect students to be on time, yet we are not.  We expect students to remain silent when they're talking, yet we talk during meetings and other presentations.  We  expect ethical and truthful behavior from our students, yet...well, here we are.  These things are outrageous hypocrisies, and as someone already said, young people can spot that stuff from a mile away.  And they don't forget.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I can only share the concern that other editors have expressed in this post - hypocrisy is just so dangerous and damaging and if we display this quality we endanger any positive influence we may have had on our students and tacitly agree with plagiarism which is obviously such a massive issue for us all to combat. Very disturbing.

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ktmagalia | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted on

I agree with many of the posting comments above in that it places you, a peer, in an awkward position, and it may be preferable to let it go.  However difficult, however unprofessional, and however wrong it may be, chastising or "turning in" your peer isn't in your job description.  The offender may not know it, but they have lost your respect as well as any students who may of overheard, and this is punishment in itself.  I am a firm believer of what comes around, goes around, and I just hope that a good dose of Turnitin.com plagues their academic house in the near future.  Unfortunately, it sounds as though officially getting "caught" will be the lesson that will have to painfully learned.

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lmallow | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

In the state that I teach in this is a violation of the Code of Ethics.  I would feel obligated to talk with this person and counsel them about the Code of Ethics.  If this behavior did not change after this conversation I would be required to  report this behavior to a higher administrator. 

In reference to the students that overheard this conversation this conversation would be a good starting point for a discussion about behavior and consequences. 

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mzach | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

I teach future teachers in a master's program.  I am always SHOCKED by how many students plagiarize.  And even more shocked that they think I won't notice.  It is unfortunate that so many obviously get away with this practice.  It is also unfortunate that so many are angry and even hostile when they get caught.  It saddens me to imagine the future students of these future teachers.  What will they be taught?

It is so true that students will remember the hypocrisy of the adults they encounter.  Part of the developmental process involves children questioning...well, EVERYTHING, and they seem acutely aware of hypocrisy.

I love the idea of asking the teacher how he/she feels when students do that in the classroom, and how he/she feels about the student's future.  I know that I am upset when students plagiarize, and I imagine they will not get very far in the world with ethics like that.  Is that how the teacher views him/herself?

Educators are falling behind technology in the area of plagiarism.  Too many new ways of cheating are available as technology increases, and we are not putting in the time or effort as an industry to crack down on students' ability to cheat.  Institutions at the very least should all be using turnitin.com, and even that students have found ways to hack.

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angelcann | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

I've actually been in a situation similar to this. I mentored a beginning teaching fellow when I was in graduate school and gave him a copy of my syllabus to use as a guideline when creating his own. Instead, he just changed the name and office number on the syllabus and handed it out to his class -- which happened to have several of my formal students in it. They immediately realized what he had done because he didn't even bother to change the font or correct a typo. They were outraged, but they came to me about it, not him.  I instructed them to talk to him about it, ask him why he made that particular choice. The other instructor suggested to them that I was the one who had plagiarized his syllabus.

Granted, it's a syllabus, not a paper, but to the students, the concept is the same.  The work was not his own, and for the rest of the semester, they felt they couldn't learn anything from him.

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I have to say, sadly, that I agree with the post that this really can't be appalling.  I've been asked to write people's papers for them in certain situations and been tempted because it would have been easy money, but in the end I didn't feel comfortable.  I think the real problem lies in the fact that these same people are the ones deciding that students need to be held to a standard that they can ignore because they are adults.

I think honesty is the best way to go.  Discuss their decision with them in front of students.  If they aren't comfortable doing so in front of students, ask them why not.  Of course it may be better to just ignore the whole thing (particularly if they are going to be your administrator) rather than stirring up bad blood.  But I just tend to think that, especially when students are involved, the more honest you can be the better.  The act of pretending that teachers and adults somehow aren't beset with the same weaknesses and temptations that students have is just silly and most students see right through it anyway after a certain age.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This incident is appalling in so many ways. The lack of integrity and professionalism is very disturbing. If I had been an observer in this situation, I would have said, "Very funny. Now please tell these students that you are only joking and would never really do such a thing!" And then I would excuse myself.  Treating this as a joke would give them an opportunity to backtrack and save face, and if my response caused the other teachers to dislike me, so be it. Sometimes we just have to speak up and let the chips fall.

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think your body language could tell them a lot when you shake your head and remain firm and serious, and sort of do the non verbals that the person quits talking in front of students. That body language is going to reflect on the person as you demonstrate that your level of maturity and dedication is now dictating them on how to behave in front of students. Maybe that could rub off and they could apply the same behavior to themselves.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I uphold the comments made in post 11. Is there not a code of ethics within our profession by which even these individuals are bound? I do not work in the US education system, but in NZ we have a code which requires us to be bound by ethical behaviour - the final appendix to which also compels those who are aware of breaches to stand up for what is right. How does the quote go? 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’. Thieves and plagiarists have no place in education at any level.

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goreadabook | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted on

It is highly unprofessional of these individuals to steal or plagiarize material; however, getting yourself involved in their matters may prove to have more repercussions than benefits.  I understand your desire to maintain integrity within this profession, but in order to avoid uncomfortable situations, I believe it is best to let this one go.  Ultimately, you cannot control what other people do, and if you get involved in something that does not directly affect you, it usually ends up causing an unnecessary headache.  If they ask your opinion on the matter, I would provide a modest, but honest answer.  Something along the lines of, "I think it is highly unprofessional to plagiarize material, but it is your work, not mine."

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ako6777 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

I am sorry to hear that is happening.  The teachers are definitely not being positive role models.  I would inform the students that not everything a teacher does is correct and that they should not do as that teacher does.  I would also speak with the teachers about their behavior in front of the students.  They may wish to behave unethically, but they do not need to be teaching the students to do so.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

If I heard another teacher talking about having committed plagiarism within students' hearing, I would remind that teacher--loudly enough for students to hear--that plagiarism is legally and ethically wrong. I wouldn't make a huge scene but I would let the teacher know that he or she was not setting a good example for the students.

mstultz72's profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

It should be no surprise that adults are not only hypocrites but thieves.  It's a common practice in industry, and I fear, will only be more commonplace in the academic community as well.

Students see the hypocrisy already in industry.  Everyone copies from everyone.  First, there's one iPod, and then there are ripoffs.  There's Sprite AND 7up,  Coke AND Pepsi, Macs AND Mac-based platforms for PCs.  It's total incest.

So why should schools be the only honest ones?  Industry has been undercutting and hamstringing schools for years.

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