First they Doubt You, Then They Panic

I  try not to prejudge classes, but as the school year comes to an end I’ve already got them figured out so I can’t help it. That said, what happened may have been my fault.

Today was the first day of speech contest speeches for my high school second year (11th grade) students. The speech order was chosen by lottery, but as an experiment I let students have their scripts available whereas in the past they’ve had to memorize it completely. I did add the rules that 1) they had to memorize the first half of their speeches and 2) if they needed help after that, they couldn’t read.

This turned out to be a mistake.

The first student looked up for one line then started reading his script. The next four students didn’t even bother to look up. They just started reading. Having the script available gave them the chance to be lazy and they took the chance.

As they did so, the percentage for memorization rose from 20% to 40% of the final score and their scores suffered. After the fourth student read, I pointed out that no one who had spoken had received higher than 40%. There then ensued a brief panic, especially when I pointed out that even if everyone got a low score, I’d still send at least one student to the speech contest at the end of the term.

A couple students did better after that, but I can tell they think I’m joking about sending someone, not matter what.

In my afternoon class, things went much better. Students referred to their scripts but didn’t read. However, the real problem came because a couple students were absent. This meant a student who hadn’t finished his speech was called on to perform his speech.

He then made huge mistake. Because he’s used to bullshitting his way out of things, he claimed his speech was too long for the time left in class. Since I’d seen him play with his smartphone for two classes under the guise of “using the dictionary” whilst not actually writing anything, I muttered something along the lines of “bullshit” (in fact, I may have actually said “bullshit”) and assured him that since it was the last class of the day, he had plenty of time to finish.

He admitted he had no speech, which means he failed the speech.

The next student did okay, but I may be seeing a lot of students at the make up exam at the end of this term.

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