She was my best student in history, but unsure of herself. She worked hard, really wanted those A's.
Now it was the final exam. She dove right in, typing furiously on her laptop. I roved among the students. Every time I came towards her desk, she squirmed in her seat, changed the angle of the computer screen. My teacher radar went off. I kept circling the classroom, peering over shoulders, until I knew for sure.
After the exam when everyone else had left, I explained what I had clearly seen her doing, toggling to her stored notes. I ripped up the print-out of her exam.
It was a terrible moment for both of us. But I was the adult. I owed her the truth of right and wrong.
As a teacher, I see the difficult terrain teenagers negotiate as they establish a sense of self, assembling personal values and ethics. Parents may not have the stamina to teach the really painful lessons, and the digital world where teens live is an echo chamber where cause and effect, acts and consequences are obscured, if not hidden. There are no referees. Meanwhile, they see the shortcuts some take to get ahead.