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Educational Autobiography

nina0404's picture

Table of Contents

1)    The Black Apple

2)    Reading Quietly vs. Reading in Your Head

3)    Stay in Your Section: Missing Out on the Wonder of Children’s Literature

4)    Moving to Washington Jackson Elementary

5)    After School Mania: Homework, Snacks, and Oregon Trail

6)    Up into Space: The Space Shuttle Mission of Class 6-1

7)    A Love Story Between a Girl and Her Soccer Ball

8)   The Middle School Chronicles

9)    A Good Paper Doesn’t Equal Plagiarism

0)  And Then There Came High School

11)  AP’s, SAT’s, ASP, and other Acronyms for Success

12)  Accepting Change

13)  Tales From a Target Employee

14)  Truths from a High School Senior: College Apps, Football Games, Gidget Friday’s, and Watching Over my Freshman Sister.

15)  Everything You Learned was Wrong: College

16)  I Have to Become a Real Person!! Preparing for Life.

A Good Paper Doesn’t Equal Plagiarism

            Middle school was probably the most fun I had in school before college. For some reason everything just clicked and flowed. School was fun and interesting. Classmates were cool and friendly, and I rocked in athletics. There were a couple of bumps in the road but none more so than my eighth grade English class. English was one of my favorite academic subjects but I can honestly say that my eight grade English class was horrid.

 My teacher was very unpleasant and, looking back now, probably had lost some love for teaching. Regardless of the issue there, we were all stuck with her for a year.  The class always progressed slowly and it was never a fun experience unless we were silently reading. Multiple projects and papers were assigned but the most prominent in my memory was the report on Shakespeare. After reading, The Taming of the Shrew, we were assigned to research Shakespeare’s life and one of his works. For the next two weeks at home I was reading up on Shakespeare, learning all about his life, his works, and writing everything down on a notepad. When it came to writing the paper I remember wanting to impress my teacher and so of course I worked really hard and looked up words in the thesaurus trying to make myself sound more like a scholar. Overall, I am sure the paper was not as impressive as I thought it was back then. For an eighth grade paper though it was pretty good.

                I turned that paper in with much pride and thought nothing of it until the day we got it back. The end of that class came and she handed out the paper right as the bell rang to leave. I looked at the top of the paper and right there was a big C! “What the heck!”, I thought to myself as I began reading the comments. I must have really lost it while writing this paper. Soon the grade wasn’t the most shocking item in color on the paper. There scrawled in red letters on the margin of the page was, “Did you write this??” On the next page the same thing, “Did you write this?”

                I didn’t know whether to cry or scream. I was furious, but at the same time so embarrassed.  I think I actually might have turned red and in that moment I choose. I cried. I couldn’t believe that my teacher would write something so nasty and mean on my paper. How could she think that of me? I might have been a little kid, but I knew what plagiarism was. The next couple of class periods before lunch went unnoticed as I sat through them debating with myself what to do. I resolved to discuss this with my teacher before I went home to discuss this with my parents. The last thing I wanted to do was have my parents come complain to my teacher about a grade.

                As we headed to lunch I left my friends and made my way to her classroom. I found her talking to another student so I waited outside figuring out what to say. Finally it was my turn to speak with her. I lifted up my paper and asked “What did you mean by this”, and pointed to her comments. She looked at the paper, at me, and then said, “I don’t believe you could have written a paper like this.” Shocked by her response it took me a couple of seconds to find a response. Timidly I told her that I had been reading on Shakespeare for the past two weeks, that I even had papers with notes, and that I had given her a list of the websites like she asked. Again she said that I got the grade I received because she didn’t believe I wrote it. I didn’t know what to do. She believed in her reason and, while she had no evidence, didn’t think she was unreasonable. I left her room and started crying as I made my way back to the lunch room.

                At the lunch room I found my dad getting ready to go back to work. I had forgotten that it was Thursday and that he was there to have lunch with his mentee. (My dad was a part of a mentor program that matched Air Force military members with students.) The coincidence felt like the best moment of my life. I hadn’t wanted to tell my parents, I wanted to fix things by myself. After that talk though I didn’t know what to do and the embarrassment and sadness was being replaced by anger. I waited for my dad to get to the entrance of the lunchroom and proceeded to tell him what had happened. I told him that my teacher didn’t believe me, that I already spoke to her, and how upset I was because I worked really hard on that paper. I told him it was the paper I had been working on and that he and mama had seen me work on it.

                After calming me down, my dad asked where my teacher’s room was. After telling him he told me to go eat lunch and walked away to find my teacher. I got lunch and sat down with my friends and immediately started feeling better because I knew that my dad had seen all the work I had done. Towards the end of lunch my dad came back. He told me not to worry and that my grade would be fixed. He had told my teacher that he saw me working on the paper, had seen me take notes, and write (literally write with my hand) the paper all on my own. I am sure my dad might have said a few other things to my teacher, but that was all that he had said to me.

              I have looked back on that day and wondered why my teacher would a) accuse me of plagiarism without looking to see if it had actually been done and b) refuse to acknowledge my side of the story. To this day I have a hard time throwing away papers, especially notes and research, because of that experience. I hoard them in case I need to bring them up again for situations like this. What I think I hated most about this was the fact my opinion was not counted. Another adult had to step in for me because the argument of an eighth grader wasn’t worth hearing. Instead of giving me a chance to prove I hadn’t plagiarized, she laid down her judgment and saw no further need for discussion. I never knew her reasons for not believing in my work. All I know is how it made me feel. The autocratic authority she displayed constrained my ability to have a relationship with her, to talk to her somewhat equally, and made me feel like I didn’t matter.  She did not want to work with me. The interaction between student and teacher was distant and one-sided. It should have been open and cooperative. While she could have believed I was in the wrong she also could have allowed me the chance to prove that I wasn’t.