This short memoir is in response to The Red Dress Club prompt Begin or end with the words “Lesson Learned.”

It was a good thing my hubby worked at the college too. It was fortunate we didn’t have kids yet. I went to work with Rob at 8:00 in the morning, and stayed at my desk in the adjunct office till he was ready to go around 5:00.  Every week, I only spent four hours actually standing up in front of a class, lecturing, and just one short hour was designated as an “office hour”, but I spent all day two or three times a week at the college.

Four sections of the same class. Four times a week to give the exact same lecture. Twenty young people in each class.

Eighty assignments to grade.

Grading the same assignment eighty times, my eyes would begin to glaze over and they all started to look alike.

Too alike… But it was only a computer spreadsheet, and a rather simple one. Of course they would be very similar!

But it continued. So the next assignment I sent out, instead of sending one mass e-mail, I sent out eighty. Eighty identical messages with attachments that were all the same except for the students’ name embedded in a way that would not be noticed.

I frowned as I graded that assignment. My mood darkened as I separated out a half dozen pairs of spreadsheets. My only consolation was that most of the others seemed to be legitimate.

It takes a long time to grade eighty assignments. It takes ten times longer to take eighty assignments, make sure the file is the student’s own, and if it isn’t, to figure out what to do next. It takes not only time, but careful effort to follow the college’s procedure in confronting the students. It takes a sympathetic yet determined ear to hear the reasons behind the identical assignments.

It takes a chunk out of a young teacher’s heart to think that, even though she has always been fair and generous with her students, some would cheat.

Lesson learned.

The shortlink for this post is