I'll admit, I'm a bit prejudiced in favor of people who come into teaching as a second career (I'm one, after all), and part of the reason is some of the skills they bring to the game. Take Mr. Social Studies, for example. His background is in military law enforcement. His take on things, such as parent meetings, has become quite valuable. It's sort of that second sense he has when someone is lying to him or hiding something. It's amazing how many times we'll walk out of a parent meeting and he'll comment that "I can tell something is not right there," and he'll eventually be proven correct.
He's also really good at catching kids cheating on tests and quizzes.
He had a suspicion that three of our darlings, Spoiled Princess Girl, Brat Boy and Snarly Boy might be involved, along with a few others that sort of hang on the fringes of their clique. Mr. Social Studies thought that Smart Goofy Girl might be the one feeding them the answers because she has his class first period, is friends (most of the time) with Spoiled Princess Girl, and because she's, well, smart. And goofy enough to do something so stupid. Or perhaps, bullied into it by Spoiled Princess Girl. Anyhow, the kid scuttlebutt had it that there was some cheating going on and Spoiled Princess Girl was one of the cheaters.
On an aside, isn't it amazing what kids will talk about in the room with a teacher right there? I find out the most interesting things during my homeroom, in the hallways, and before the bell rings.
Mr. Social Studies, patient man that he is, laid a trap and waited. He suspected that Spoiled Brat Girl was writing the test answers on her leg (you have got to love capri pants) and was doing a lot of adjusting and scratching on her calves during tests. However, there being no honor among thieves and seventh graders, he didn't even have to wait to have his theory verified - two of Spoiled Brat Girl's so-called friends, Wide Eyed Girl and Smart Goofy Girl (amazing!) ratted her out. All he had to do was sit and wait for her to reach down, ease that pant leg up, and catch her at it.
Which he did.
This happened fourth period. I have Spoiled Brat Girl and Brat Boy in fifth and they didn't show up for class that day. I asked the class if they knew where they were and they couldn't wait to tell me about how they were in guidance because they'd been caught cheating. For kids who consider themselves to be quite the elite and very popular, they certainly aren't well liked.
In any case, Spoiled Brat Girl sang like a canary and told everyone that Snarly Boy was getting the answers early in the day and was giving them to her and Brat Boy at lunch. Considering that these three always eat lunch in the large group instruction room with their overinvolved PTO mothers, it's no wonder they got away with it. What we all found interesting is that the parents most likely knew this was going on. The way they hover over these three, it would be hard to get away with anything without their tacit approval. (We have since heard from another PTO mother - who is not part of their clique - that it's not uncommon for them to sit in there and do their children's homework while the kids goof off and eat lunch.)
I have to question the wisdom of Spoiled Brat Girl relying on answers from Snarly Boy. She is extremely smart, usually an A student. Snarly Boy barely gets D's and C's.
I'm not sure how this will all play out. I do know they all got talked to by an administrator, and earned zeros on their test (which at 100 points, is a big chunk of points). I'm sure the mothers are all madder than heck at all of us for "picking on" their kids. They'll probably make it up to their darlings by pulling them out of school for a mini-vacation, which is exactly what Brat Boy's mother did a few weeks ago when he was suspended. (And amazing, it wasn't one of us who wrote him up, but a teacher from another team who had a student who was hit by Brat Boy on the way back from lunch as they walked by the Large Group Instruction room - ten witnesses are a lot to fight against, and he got suspended...and a vacation.)
We keep thinking...just a few more weeks with these three. Just a few more weeks.