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Started by ddeubel in Websites / links / access to new resources / communities.. Last reply by Nadeem Nawaz Jul 16. 102 Replies

We are now in our 3rd edition of "Site of the Day"! Hundreds of the best sites for teaching/learning. See #1 and…Continue

Tags: collection, list, web 2.0, resources, websites

ABCs - Alphabet Resources or Ideas?

Started by NEWS NOW in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by Amelia Meirizka Jun 20. 73 Replies

I guess the alphabet is our bread and butter.Got any good ideas for teaching it or using it…Continue

Tags: children, abc, kids, phonics, reading

Learning Designs

Started by Elise in Teaching and Methodology Mar 27. 0 Replies

I was wondering what you all thought of learning designs pertaining to English language teaching? What are the ways in which you design your lessons to achieve better learning in your students?Continue

A NEW way to teach PHRASAL VERBS so that your students understand and remember them

Started by Andromeda Jones in Teaching and Methodology Dec 31, 2018. 0 Replies

Phrasal verbs are a verb + preposition, adverb or particle. Teaching…Continue

Tags: prepositions, teach, verbs, phrasal


 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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Thanks Larry. I first encountered that poem in my idealistic teacher's college days......glad I haven't lost much of that same idealism......

Sharing a poem about teaching got me thinking about a poem I wrote my first Christmas away, teaching English. It was in the Czech Rep. , 1993. I was very isolated -- there was no such thing as the internet and we got an English newspaper (The European - does anyone remember this great paper, a baby of Murdoch that did MUCH to help Europe become fluent in the English language) once a week.

I didn't have the money to fly home or even get to France and my grandparents. I knew few people and woke up that Christmas without getting even one Christmas present! After a gloomy morning, I wrote this poem about the real "present". We do well to remind ourselves of this present that is just being there.


Everyday I say thank you for
the new morning.
But should the morning
not be given,
Ah! how I'd wake up
and embrace the newer night!

It's like the first Christmas
you finally don't
get anything.
Ah! How then
the bells ring in
the present!
This story is about keeping things in perspective. I remember when my sister became a teacher. She was overwhelmed, ready to quit. But I kept telling her that it will get better - teaching is like that. One day up and the next day down.....but in the end, it always gets better. I also told her to keep it in perspective, so many teachers in other places around the world face such larger challenges, different stresses, worries. I was reminded of this while watching the $100 laptop presentation in our Practice area (click practice above). Look at the size of that class and the classroom she has to teach each day in!

This presentation is about learning to see things for what they are - to simplify.

Today's story is a Japanese "wisdom story" . It speaks to me about the teachers need to have faith, to not give up on a student. If we don't, we will be rewarded for our unwavering effort and belief.

Sedge Hats for JizoOnce upon a time there was an old man and an old woman. They wanted to buy mochi for New Year which would come soon. They decided to make sedge hats to trade for mochi.
A few days later, the old man started in the snow to town with the hats. Twelve Jizō were standing by the road on the way. They were standing cold and bareheaded in the snow. The old man pitied them so much that he put one of his sedge hats on each one of them. The trouble was that he had only eleven hats, one short of what he needed. He could not possibly leave the last Jizō that way.
He took off his own hat that he was wearing and put it onto Jizō's head. Then he went back home. His old woman came to meet him, asking, "How about the mochi?" Then he told her about the Jizō and said, "We can have a good New Year without mochi."
The old woman praised him for what he did and they were happy about it. She said, "Build up a good fire to get warm before we go to bed."
The next morning they were awakened by shouts outside. When they drew back their wooden doors to see, there was a lot of freshly pounded mochi under the eaves. They looked beyond and were surprised to see the backs of twelve Jizō going away, wearing the old man's sedge hats.

“Sedge Hats for Jizō.” Mayer, Fanny Hagin. Ancient Tales in Modern Japan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, ©1985. p. 87.

Today's story is a MUST about connections about how teaching is being part of the human race, being really CONNECTED to life itself. And all this made possible because we are teachers. Please listen to this true and wonderful podcast and visit more of the stories HERE. Say hi to Paul Tze! He teaches these inservice teachers but is connected and was once a student - believe it or not! Amazing.
Today's story is another Zen story. It teaches us teachers to look at the classroom as a dynamic force. Too often, teachers try to get the class to meld and bend to their own rules, their own structure, their own framework. Rather, the best approach is to look at the classroom in a unique fashion. Look at the personalities and the life within it and then "go along with the flow" and as a part of this learning community, make a difference. It does take much experience to do this but even the least experienced of teachers can use their intuition to make each class unique! Bend it like Beckham, not like a Barbarian!

Going with the Flow

A Taoist story tells of an old man who accidentally fell into the river rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall. Onlookers feared for his life. Miraculously, he came out alive and unharmed downstream at the bottom of the falls. People asked him how he managed to survive.

"I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me. Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it. Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl. This is how I survived."
Today I thought I'd relate MY OWN story. I have many from years of teaching and this one speaks to me about how in our language classrooms we should never assume a student's "light is turned off..." I've so often thought students weren't learning/listening and been stunned to discover by chance that later they were.

I began teaching EFL at a private language school in Karlovy Vary, the Czech Rep. . Way back just after the wall and curtain had come down and velvet was all around. A small school but with a great director who really allowed me to do my own thing and learn/grow as a teacher by trial and error (so important for new teachers that they don't get into a "rote" teaching situation where they can't learn by mistakes, creative trial and error!).

I had an after school class of teenagers. Bored 13/14/15 year olds. Everyone is familiar with their apparent "disinterest" in school. One student Martin was quite bright but really alway just lounging like a cat and sleeping in my class. I thought he was just bored by the lower material and I tried my best as an inexperienced teacher to give him appropriate material and spark his interest.

One day I saw Martin as usual, sprawled over the desk, not participating with the other students. I stopped the class and told them that if they really cracked down, the last 30 min of class would be board games. This was in an effort primarily to motivate Martin.

Finally we got to the board games and all the students played eagerly, producing lots of English. NOT MARTIN! He was just his usual disinterested self.....chair back and looking off into space. I was so disappointed! I went up to him and asked, "what's the matter Martin? These are great games? " He replied, "Teacher, these are BORED games". I knew exactly what he "meant" and left it there, smiling inside the rest of class. He had been learning....and his metalinguistic ability astounded me. I'll always remember BOARD game Martin.

Sometimes the hardest part of teaching is keeping things in perspective. We get caught up in the details and the devil. Meaning, sometimes you have to just live and along with that notion, live with your students and just enjoy being this story suggests.

Yesterday I was making a conference lecture application at KOTESOL, the Korean TESOL organization and I cam across this story from their president. I'm glad he also finds so much wisdom in Hodja, the Turkish trickster.

For me as a teacher, this story tells me that YOU are your best guide. Know thyself and believe in yourself and let this be your barometer and North star when it comes to your own teaching......what others think is fine, but always in the end, let it filter through and walk in YOUR own way.

"I Guess We Should Both Walk"

Nasreddin Hodja was a wise man who lived in Turkey in the 13th century. One very hot day, Hodja and his son were going to the market. The boy was riding on their donkey, and Hodja was walking along beside them. A man passed by and said, "Look at that! Young people today have no respect for their elders. That strong young man is riding and the older man in walking."
So Hodja told his son, "You'd better let me ride," and they changed places. Soon another man came by and said, "Look at that! That poor little boy has to walk in this hot sun while his lazy father rides!"
So Hodja told his son, "I guess we should both walk."
Then two more men came by and saw them both walking. One turned to the other and said, "Look at those two fools! They have a fine donkey and neither of them is riding it on this hot day."
Hodja turned to his son and said, "You see, it does no good to listen to what others say."*
Thanks for this fantastic thread! I just love the stories-- have gathered so many for telling the students, and for sharing in teachers' meetings. What a delight!
What is the Secret of Teaching (not just Buddhism) - According to Alan Watts....

Today's story is an old Russian folktale but it speaks to two things I believe are paramount for good teaching. Having a wileyness to motivate and get your students doing their best. Two - the need for the instructor to create suspense and anticipation in lessons/lesson delivery. Also one other BIG meaning, I'll let you find yourself.

I told this to our graduating class in my speech this week and I think the graduating teachers got the point! Think of the brothers as students and the father as the teacher.

Once there were two brothers, Ivan and Peter. They were extremely lazy. Their father worked day and night in the fields but Ivan and Peter wouldn't help their earnest father. While he was working, they went into town and drank beer, chatted or played cards. If the father asked them to do something, they'd say okay but never get around to it. The father always had to do it himself, they were so lazy!

One day, in old age, the father became very ill. Ivan and Peter rushed to his bedside and whispered, "Let's get him to tell us where he hid all his money!". They waited and waited. Finally the old man spoke weakly. "My dear sons" he said, " I don't feel good. Please know I buried the money in a safe place. It is .......". His voice trailed off and his eyes shut. He had died!

The brothers looked at each other in amazement! Now what would they do! Peter spoke first. He said, "I know where the money is -- he loved tomatoes, he must have buried it there." So they dug up the whole tomato patch but found no money.

Ivan said, "I know where it is. It must be on the hill where he loved to sit." So they dug and dug and dug. They dug up the whole hill. No money! This continued for weeks, until the whole farm had been dug up. The brothers were exasperated. What to do now? , they thought.

They both shrugged their shoulders and seeing that the field was already dug up, decided to plant some crops.

That year they had an incredible harvest! The best ever and the sons got lots of money for their delicious crops. They both loved what they'd made and from that year on worked harder than any other farmers in the whole land. They always had the best crops and They quit going into town and gambling. Eventually, they forgot all about the money buried by their father.
This story is one you might try in your own classroom (but think it through first!). It comes from a recent blog post by Harish Rajpal, a teacher.

A kindergarten teacher has decided to let her class play a game.

The teacher told each child in the class to bring along a plastic bag containing a few potatoes. Each potato will be given a name of a person that the child hates, so the number of potatoes that a child will put in his/her plastic bag will depend on the number of people he/she hates.

So when the day came, every child brought some potatoes with the name of the people he/she hated. Some had 2 potatoes; some 3 while some up to 5 potatoes.

The teacher then told the children to carry with them the potatoes in the plastic bag wherever they go (even to the toilet) for 1 week.

Days after days passed by, and the children started to complain due to the unpleasant smell let out by the rotten potatoes.

Besides, those having 5 potatoes also had to carry heavier bags. After 1 week, the children were relieved because the game had finally ended.

The teacher asked: "How did you feel while carrying the potatoes with you for 1 week?"

The children let out their frustrations and started complaining of the trouble that they had to go through having to carry the heavy and smelly potatoes wherever they go.

Then the teacher told them the hidden meaning behind the game. The teacher said: "This is exactly the situation when you carry your hatred for somebody inside your heart.

The stench of hatred will contaminate your heart and you will carry it with you wherever you go. If you cannot tolerate the smell of rotten potatoes for just 1 week, can you imagine what is it like to have the stench of hatred in your heart for your lifetime?"


Moral of the Hatred (Human Vices) story:

Throw away any hatred for anyone from your heart so that you will not carry sins for a lifetime. Forgiving others is the best attitude to take. "Learn to Forgive and Forget."

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