As the start to school gets closer, we’re going to share some interviews with people from all parts of education world. This week we interview Andy, a middle school geography teacher.
Q: What year did you teach and which subject? How long have you been teaching?
This is my seventh year teaching so I started teaching in 2011. I have always been a middle school social studies teacher. I teach Geography in sixth, Ancient History in seventh and then U.S. History in eighth.
Q: What is something you do to get the students excited in the beginning of the school year?
One way that I help to get kids excited about a new year is by having a sense of humor, at least I think I’m funny. I try to make sure the kids know that my classroom is a safe place and also a place where they will be able to learn. The goal is to learn a lot of history and to have some fun while doing it.
Q: How do you help your students feel they can trust you?
I always want my students to trust me. Some of my students may not have the most stable home life, I want them to know that while they are in my room they are going to be my best. I make sure my students know that I am knowledgeable and that I am on their side when it comes to their education.
Q: Do you or other teachers in your school teach the idea of academic integrity?
As a faculty we send the first couple of days of school going over academic integrity and also being a good digital citizen. We have a digital citizen curriculum that we use to make sure that our students understand what being a digital citizen means in today’s world. The students then take a digital citizen test before they receive their device that they will be using that year.
Q: Why do you use Copyleaks?
I use Copyleaks to help show my students that I am holding them to a higher standard. I want them to know that we as human beings make mistakes and if I can teach a student that plagiarizing has consequences when the stakes are lower in middle school, then hopefully they will not make them ever again especially later in their life when the consequences can be dire. It is a great tool that makes their accountability easy to keep track of and provide unarguable proof, if needed.
Q: Do you encourage students to check their own work, including references before they submit it?
I spend a significant amount of time making sure that the students know how to correctly cite something in MLA format. My students use citations heavily and I want them to form good habits now. Knowing how to use a source and cite it is one of my main goals for my students before they leave me and go on to high school.
Q: Why do you think some students plagiarize?
For me I think that students plagiarize because they are being lazy. For me every time I have had to confront a student with plagiarism they usually had too many things going on, too many sporting events, too much homework, and they decided that plagiarizing would make that work load lighter. They all know what they did was wrong and they are always remorseful. At least with me in the grand scheme of things a 0 on the assignment and a call home is an easy lesson to learn rather than in college when they could potentially get expelled.
Q: What message do you try to spread about creating your own original work?
I always want my students to do their own work. The reason we teachers assign any assignment is because we want to see what our students have learned, what holes might still be there, and if we the teacher need to teach the content differently. I want my students to show me what they know, not what someone else knows.
Q: What are your hopes for the coming school year?
I hope that this school year will be another great year of learning and fellowship with my students. I hope that all the new things that I have planned go well, and that the tried and true things continue to be successful. Having no discipline problems would be the cherry on top for me. I am sure it will be another great school year!