You won’t hear this in your TEFL Training Class . . .
If you teach in a public school, college or university you will be faced with the reality of cheating in your classrooms.
I am amazed that you will find no information on cheating in TEFL training manuals or even CELTA and DELTA manuals – not even a single word!
The cheating topic could fill up quite a few pages, so first I will help you with some ideas to keep you out of trouble.
All schools have formal and informal procedures to deal with certain problems and when it comes to cheating you’ll find vastly different approaches.
What is wrong in Mr. Tucker’s class?
Most schools won’t have your back when it comes to catching those cheaters. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.
During my time in Saudi Arabia I worked at a school where they had very strict anti-cheating rules and they backed up their teachers when it came to discipline in general.
But when a teacher caught cheaters a bit too often, it would quickly turn into, “What is wrong with Mr. Tucker? Why do people cheat in his classroom so much?”
This is what you get in the real world. If you are too successful at catching those cheaters, you’ll be the one in trouble, you’ll be seen as the problem.
Put a stop to it
There is a good lesson in the question of “What is wrong in Mr. Tucker’s class” and you can put a stop to it.
You are not a spy on the watch to catch the cheaters. You are teacher and you should try and prevent cheating through the set up of your teaching environment.
To prevent cheating is an easy task if you have small classes. If you have a lot of students in your class, try and schedule two different exam times and test people in smaller groups, you can even use your office as a last resort.
Students should only have a pen or pencil with them when they are seated. Have students take tests and exams only on paper that you hand out. All their books, bags, telephones and other devices should be left in the front of the room where you can keep an eye on them.
Have a strict ‘no talking’ and ‘keep your eyes on your own work’ rule. I used to post a big notice on the board that said, “No Talking, No Looking and No Crying” (for those who hadn’t studied). Putting a couple of eyes in the Looking and a crying face next to Crying helps remove some of the tension of being strict.
Walk around the room. Don’t stay in one spot and sit at your desk or lectern grading papers or reading a book. To help students resist the temptation of cheating it is best to stand in the back of the room and walk around quietly. After a few years and a lot of tests you will have a good laugh at some of the sly ways (or so they think) students try to cheat.
TED’s Tips™ #1: Know at which level your school will support you in fighting cheating. If they have an informal rule which states that you should not create any problems, there are always informal ways to apply no cheating rules. I have more than a few times walked up behind a student just as he was beginning to slip out his cheat sheet and just snatched it out of his hands and walked away. Cheating was prevented. The student was happy he wasn’t busted and the school was happy too as no problems were created that they would need to solve (unhappy parents, perhaps?). It may not be the perfect solution, but it is an informal way to deal with cheating.
TED’s Tips™ #2: The best way to stop your students from cheating is to inform them about all the rules before they take an exam. Tell them what is allowed and what is not. Tell them about the rules both in the class preceding the exam and at the beginning of the exam. As an educator, you should believe in education and teach your students NOT to cheat. That’s really what schools want you to do.