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 I'd like to share in this forum and would like others to share, short stories that might apply to education / teaching and that will inspire. I believe stories and a narrative are powerful, whether in our classroom or for our own professional development and reflection.

Find my whole collection of inspirational stories in video HERE.  You might also be interested in my Zen and the Art of Teaching series.



Here is my other series for professional development - Learning Through Stories.

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This story is meant to inspire and show that we should always do a good job. Yes, somedays in the classroom you are tired, worn out and despairing.........but just give it your best. Only in that way will you build a great, strong house.

One thing that always surprises me when I go to different schools (which I'm lucky enough to do in my job), is the school culture. How it differs! You can have two schools in the same district, on the same street but with vastly differing cultures, feelings, learning environments. One might be friendly, warm, plants all around, lots of light. The other dark, undecorated and cold.

School culture has been researched extensively and it is the most important factor in the success of a student. Not just their academic success but LIFE success. And what is the most important factory when looking at how to build a great school culture? People/relationships.

We can do so much more, teaching is so much more dynamic and effective when done in an environment where colleagues really work and pull together. Like a happy family, we can do so much more together than alone.

This story is about geese but might be about our own teaching situtations....

Here is an hilarious classroom story written and illustrated by students. It really shows in a humorous light, the travails and stress of teaching and how students truly do understand how the teacher can "get angry". It is called,
IF YOU DON"T BE QUIET!

Today's story comes wrapped with a beautiful and simple message. A message of simplicity that all teachers should follow/heed. Fablevision has some great stories and I'll highlight more from Peter Reynolds here....this is one of his best.

Click here to read The Clever Stick.
Teaching to me is all about "community" - creating a learning and sharing environment, either in the classroom or among those you are learning with (like here). We often want to "own" knowledge but what is most important is what can't be taken back, can't be controlled or handled. I'm saying it clumsily.....

Dave,

I gotta' tell you that I love this thread on storytelling...

Larry
Larry,

Thanks for the encouragement. A few others have also let me know they like the story "idea". Maybe sometimes the stories aren't any good but that's what is great about stories, you never know when they'll "hit home".

Today's story is from a collection I've attached. Painstakingly retyped from memory by myself. Many of these stories are a testament to how great stories are in terms of language retention/acquisition. Probably 40-50% of these stories are from a book I read years ago and used in teaching ESL (about 15 years ago). I can't even remember the name of the book at all but I remember the stories!

This funny story speaks about language learning and the need for "repetition" in ELT (but not rote repeating like in this story!). It isn't easy to learn a language...

IT’S THE BUTCHER!

An old woman was lonely. She decided to get a pet. She didn’t have much money so she went to a second hand pet shop.

She saw many animals: a three legged cat, a dog without a tail, fish that could only swim backwards and a beautiful bird that could only say one thing, “Who is it?”. She decided to buy the bird. She bought a cage for her bird and went home. She put the bird by the door and went downtown to do some shopping.

While she was gone, a man knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” replied the parrot.
“It’s the butcher,” he said.
“Who is it?”, repeated the bird.
“It’s the butcher,” said the man.
“Who is it?” asked the parrot.
“It’s the butcher!!,”, said the man angrily.
“Who is it?” “It’s the butcher!!!!”, he screamed.
“Who is it?” “It’s the butcher, the butcher, the butch...”

Suddenly the butcher fell to the floor. He had had a heart attack.

Later that day, the old woman came home and found the man laying on her doorstep. She opened her door and asked the parrot, “Who is it?” . The parrot replied,

“It’s the butcher!”.
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Larry,

Great question! Me, I love Yiddish tales. They are so intelligent but still fun. Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Gimpel the Fool " collection is top knotch and my fav. story also.... Elie Wiesel has a great collection of Bal Shem Tov tales called, "Souls on Fire". I love Russian tales and especially those collected painstakingly by the noted ethnographer Afanas'ev Here is a link with some of them

As for world folktales, there is so much! And I'm by no means an expert at all.....I have used a lot through the years with younger students, Folktales from around the World. Beautifully illustrated.

I have met Cathy Spagnoli and we have corresponded. A world renowned storyteller and she holds workshops for ESL teachers. I'll ask her. She is particularly specialized in Asian folktales but I'm sure she will be a wealth of knowledge. I'll copy you in an email to her, I need to contact her in any case....Here's her website with info.

Glad you like the stories. I do love many African folktales, especially Anansi, the great trickster of West Africa. If you like Hodja, you will also like Anansi.

David
The Trials of a Tea Cup - Not Yet!

This story is a metaphor for how teaching really moulds us, through all the ups and downs. If we keep going through the hard times and the down times, what comes out in the end is a very beautiful person. Teaching is not just a job but a way of living/being and if you are at it many years, what comes out at the end is a beautiful piece of art. I promise you :)
Here's one that might make you reflect on the difficulty and also the necessity of remembering student's names! From the immortal Nasreddin Hodja but I've embellished and fluffed it up.....

Gimpel the Fool
One day Gimpel had invited a visiting scholar to his house for a meal. Upon the self-important visiting scholar's arrival at Gimpel's house, the scholar knocked and knocked. No answer, he looked through the windows, no-one there. The scholar waited, and as he waited, he became angrier and angrier. "Why, doesn't he know who I am" , "I am so and so and who does he think he is to keep me waiting", the scholar thundered as he stomped around Gimpel's courtyard. Finally, he became so angry he grabbed a pencil and scribbled on his doorway, "IDIOT!"
Well, around about 2 o'clock, Gimpel returned home and suddenly remembered! He RAN back to the marketplace shouting for the scholar when he spotted him shortly.
"Oh, I am so sorry, please forgive me, I remembered our appointment when I saw your name written on my door"
Not really a story today - just a poem. A poem that means a lot to me and should to almost any teacher. It urges us on to not waste time and to do our utmost for students. As an ESL teacher I always thought one of the best qualities to have as a teacher was a "sieve" that really seperated all the activities/actions/exercises/drills of the classroom that were time effective and those that were dross and a waste. Us teachers should always think and ask ourselves the question - is this the most effective use of class time? If you are giving them wordfinds or playing word games and not getting them wrestling with real language...it probably isn't. This poem tells it too well......and reminds me of my days spent colouring page after stupid, idiotic page......

The Memoirs of Jessie James
-- Richard Brautigan

I remember all those thousands of hours
I spent in grade school watching the clock
waiting for recess or lunch or to go home.
Waiting: for anything but school.
My teachers could easily have ridden with Jessie James
for all the time they stole from me.
David,

Great poem. Thanks!

Larry

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