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Learning Communities

Started by Allan Richards in Teaching and Methodology Oct 27, 2017. 0 Replies

Hey everyone!I am new to the forum and am curious how you feel learning communities benefit educators when it comes to developing a collective responsibility as educators. Do you feel a forum like…Continue


Started by Christina Shepherd in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Oct 26, 2017. 1 Reply

How does implementation help you out throughout the year? I am curious to know what things have worked for you and what things have not worked for you through an implementation standard.  Continue

ABCs - Alphabet Resources or Ideas?

Started by NEWS NOW in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Sep 19, 2017. 74 Replies

I guess the alphabet is our bread…Continue

Tags: children, abc, kids, phonics, reading

Top 5 Game

Started by susie silver in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Sep 17, 2017. 14 Replies

Hi David Maybe its obvious to some but I'm not sure how to play and I also want to create a top 5 game as well. What is the point of it. There are always 5 answers. Do the students guess according to…Continue

Tags: 5, top




 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 together....as 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!
Another TRUE story about the need to believe in yourself -- it pays off and even for teachers!

I love this story about an archer.

It speaks volumes about teaching and what it takes to be a "good" teacher. So many think that teaching is about knowing what to do and knowing the curriculum. But that is only half of it. Teaching is also about adapting to each classroom, each class, each situation......those who embrace change in teaching - whether that be time or place, will survive and become better teachers. Those that don't may "appear" to be good teachers, orderly teachers but are seldom "hitting the mark".

After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull's eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot. "There," he said to the old man, "see if you can match that!" Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain. Curious about the old fellow's intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit. "Now it is your turn," he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground. Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target. "You have much skill with your bow," the master said, sensing his challenger's predicament, "but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot."
What is the Secret of Teaching (not just Buddhism) - According to Alan Watts....

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