On Wednesday, McDonald's took me down again. This time I tried the Chicken Big Mac set but I didn't eat all of my fries. I blame my students coming into the classroom with the McDonald's smell for putting the idea in my head. Also, back when I was on a strictly Subway diet, I never went to the back part of the cafeteria where McDonald's is. That new restaurant that I like is just too close.
Over the past few days, we've had the access to our desks restricted. Whereas usually there is one main door and two side doors, the side doors have been locked. There is now a security guard guarding the main door and he has to press a button to open the sliding doors for anyone who enters. As a staff member, I just have to smile and wave and he opens it right up. Students either have to have an appointment written down on a list or have to know their teacher's extension so the security guard can call them and verify that they are going to see them. The reason? Exam time! Yes, that's right. The school distrusts our students to the point where they will restrict access to the teachers' desks to keep exams from being stolen or compromised somehow.
I would have to say that this is justified, too. Say what you want about Japanese students versus Emirati students. The students here are way better at cheating than Japanese students. When I was teaching in Japan, I would leave the weekly quizzes in my bag at the front of the room and go out to talk to other teachers. I would have a copy of the final exam sitting under my teacher's book and taunt the students with it during class. I'd be one of the first to admit that I was pretty horrible with exam security in Japan but I really don't think it was necessary. I don't mean to suggest that it was because Japanese students are entirely honest. It more had to do with the fact that I didn't think they had the guts to go rifling around in a teacher's bag looking for a quiz. Alternately, any student who would do that, wouldn't care enough about the quiz to do it.
Here, however, it's a different story. The students do have the guts to steal a test and do care enough to try to do it. Unfortunately, they don't care enough to actually put in the effort studying. I tend to take the attitude towards cheating that a teacher doesn't have to make cheating impossible. They just have to make it more difficult to cheat than to actually do the work to succeed. If a student wants to cheat that badly that they'll put in more effort than studying, that's fine with me. That attitude doesn't work here. A lot of students will put more effort into cheating than it would take to study and do well on the exam honestly. That's where the guy in front of the entrance to the teachers' area comes in.
On Wednesday, I had to proctor an exam. The students weren't too bad because it was a higher level course. Still, there was a level of trying to share answers that I didn't see in Japan. As someone who is pretty attune to how people could cheat, even I was impressed by some of the ingenuity. It had to be a two-way street and there was an element of plausible denyability, but it was pretty good.