Today I administered my first test to all of four students. I guess the others were afraid so they didn’t show up. I was surprised by all the blatant cheating though. Student were opening their books, talking freely, asking questions to each other, showing each other their tests, etc. I’d heard Russians were known for cheating but it was quite another thing to actually see it in action. However I also know and understand that in Russia cheating isn’t considered a really bad thing. At least, the attitude toward it isn’t as negative as in America where you can fail classes, be put on probation or even kicked out of university or sent to face a discipline committee. Here it isn’t seen as cheating but as helping out a friend. If I hadn’t been aware of these differences I probably would have been mortified and spent the entire time trying (probably unsuccessfully) to fight their actions.
On the subject of tests though I felt a bit torn because I know I can’t control my students’ results no matter how good a job I’m doing at teaching. Yet I want them to do well and have positive results. I guess it’s just frustrating working in a field where you can’t control what happens and I’m used to being very results-oriented and determined to see positive results and visible improvement. But in teaching the result depends on the student and the amount of time they want to put into their learning. It takes two people to make it work, not just a great teacher.