2014-01-17 / Columnists

Slice Of Life

Whiff List
by Beth Hanning

When I first started teaching I gave my students a contract with my classroom procedures that both they and their parents had to sign. The outline let them know about policies regarding attendance, lateness, exams and assignments. Each year I realized the students would find a way around things if I was not specific enough. So, I would have to be very precise on an assignment paper if I indicated it to be three pages that it would also have to be in 12-point font. Believe it or not teens have handed in papers with 16-18 fonts.

There were quite a few years where I had to tackle both cell phone use and plagiarism. When I told a student that he or she was failing an exam because they were on their phone during an assessment the first question that was asked was: Was this policy on your classroom procedures? The same issue came up with plagiarism when the Internet exploded. Students would just Google the essay topic and cut and paste onto Microsoft Word.

Some things I never thought I would have to even address. I do not know when the shift happened but many students now hate using ink. They love to write everything in pencil. Now remember I teach high school and each year I now have to place on my outline: “All exams must be completed in ink.” I find it humorous that I learned that pencil was for math in St. Camillus in the second grade from Mrs. Dwyer.

Over 15 years later I am still making mental notes on items that need to go onto the next year’s classroom procedures. I have had to actually write down that students are not allowed to apply perfume and perfumed creams while class is being taught. Now this is one that has nothing to do with curriculum, it has to do with being a respectful human being. I often ask them if they really think it is appropriate to lather themselves with scented cream while the lesson is being performed. The blank look that glares back at me is answer enough to the question that they think nothing is wrong with the activity.

What is worse is that this is an activity that many adults are even doing in public places. FYI: applying your perfume in public is rude. Write it down. Put it on after you shower. If you stink the perfume only makes it worse.

This is the one issue I cannot seem to tackle. Even though it is on the list from the beginning of the school year I still had to open my windows on the six-degree day last week and let the classroom air out completely.

I have no idea what I will have to put on next year’s outline. I only know that it is becoming longer and longer every year.

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