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?

Expert Answers
trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

mzach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

angelcann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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?

anthonda49 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Administrators? In other words, they will be dealing with students who may have done the same thing? How hypocritical! I know we are all very busy, and taking courses on top of teaching is tough! It would be very hard to have respect for someone who does this and openly brags about it. It is, however, a no win situation. You don't want to be considered a goody two shoes, because when these people become administrators, they will have conversations with your administrators. That would be an awkward situation. I loved missy575's answer, but most of us don't think that fast. I probably would have just said, "Oh, really?" and let it go. If I knew the students who may have overheard the conversation, I might have counselled them that his is not a good practice because the consequences could mean expulsion.

goreadabook eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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."

ktmagalia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

linalarocca eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think you should let them know that there were students that heard what they were talking about. Perhaps the teachers were not aware that students were in the near distance. As teachers, they have the responsibility to teach what is acceptable and not acceptable. Therefore, they should refrain from insinuating that plagiarism is acceptable. What will these teachers do if their students submit work that is copied from a website? They need to take responsibility as teachers! If teaching is the career they have chosen, they need to uphold all that this title encompasses.

mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

lmallow eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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. 

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In an adult situation like that, it may be best to use a little humor to just remind them of the example that they are being. A "Wow, it seems like we learn more from the kids these days than they learn from us, eh?" If you had said this right away, it would have been self-explanatory, but, if you say it now, it will be a discussion starter. You can tell them what you mean by it and move from there into something more serious.

copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would approach these teachers and engage them--privately--in a discussion of academic honesty and integrity and subtly remind them that their behavior is a role model for student behavior.

The situation is serious and these "professionals" need to be reminded of that fact. We do a great disservice to ourselves and our profession when we behave in such a manner or turn a deaf ear and blind eye to such matters as well.

ako6777 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do agree with the other posters that you should talk to those teachers about the extremely difficult position that they have put you in with your students.  I am sure that they will think of you as self-righteous, etc., and you probably will not change their thinking on plagiarism, but at least your talking to them might keep them from discussing their cheating in front of the students again.

booksnmore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yikes! I think I'd talk to the teacher about it and ask how s/he feels when students do the same thing in class. If the students are in your classroom, or you know who they are, I'd feel like making an effort to let them know that this kind of behavior is not okay. It would certainly be worthy of discussion. Did the teacher realize that students were within hearing distance?

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a tough situation because you may feel bad for squealing but it's wrong for them to do that. If I were in that situation I would definitely say something to them about speaking this way in front of students. What kind of behavior is this teaching them? It's really teaching them to plagiarize and when students do this in school they get in big trouble.

jmj616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I use to wonder why most administrators are idiots.  Is it because idiots choose to become administrators, or do intelligent people become idiots when they they begin to do administrative work?

Based on your question, I've come to a new conclusion:  Intelligent people become idiots in the process of studying to be administrators. 

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

They need to understand that if they choose to practice academic dishonesty they need to discuss it when there are no students around. It is hard enough to get high school students to do their own thinking and work without that kind of example being set for them.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sorry. By "them" I mean they turn the papers in as their own work, and the students hear the teachers talking about this action.

lori68 | Student

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What this question is about is plagiarism. As educators if it is not part of our actual job description, it should be an ethical duty to discourage plagiarism in any form, from anyone. Copying another’s work word for word, or taking another’s work and rewording it are both examples of plagiarism if you claim it as your own, and do not credit the original source. My response would be to let the teacher know that I disapprove of such activities. In addition, I would tell this teacher that by speaking about such activities in front of students, he or she is encouraging such behavior from the students.

morton6 | Student
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?

  Wow.  As a teacher of ninth-grade English and the intitial introduction of a research paper, I would respond in shock.  Students often "change around words" and believe that they are avoiding plagiarism by doing so; however the advanced degree program--heading for administration--individual most certainly knows better and is not only being hypocritical, but criminal in his/her actions.  To do so, and to "boast of their infamy" to other teachers and in ear shot of students is extremely unprofessional and an insult to the very profession they are pursuing. I wouldn't hesitate, given the opportunity, to voice this "opinion" quite strongly to anyone involved in such actions. 

karabo | Student

Thats totally outrageous..well i went to this other high school and believe you me,the class starts at eight but the majority of the teachers arrive at ten and actually leave before school out..the other time i was forced to create a two week lesson for the students because their teacher is out of control...to make it worse I was supposed to be on teaching practical....my first..

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