Teacher Tales - Page Six

teachers' tales

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I Don't Think You Mean Precisely That.
I was teaching a review of the simple present, having the level three class write a paragraph of what they did every day. I was going around the room, checking out their spelling and punctuation. One male student was telling of his routine. I read what he did before he went to bed, "... and then I clean my tits." (meaning, of course, brushing his teeth) No word of a lie, that's what it said. I was a tad bit embarrassed when I had to tell him what that meant, but I think he was more embarrassed! He was a good enough sport to share it with the rest of the class, and we ended up having a good laugh about it. Talk about your phonetic spelling.
Christina Klein-DeRoy, Windsor, Ontario.

Teaching On The Fly.
I am teaching English here in China and had just got a new job teaching in a kindergarten for 90 minutes a week. I prepared for my first class with picture cards, posters, and felt that things would go well. When I arrived I discovered that news of my arrival had been sent out and that a lot of parents had come to my classes as well. I started with 15 minutes with the very youngest children followed by 20 minutes with the little ones, then 25 mins with the mid age class. I was really pleased with how the classes had gone and felt that I had impressed everyone. Finally I went and did the last year students, about 10 minutes into the class one of the little sweeties pointed to my trousers, as I looked down and discovered my fly was down, I discreetly put the excercise book in front of me and zipped up. One of the teachers saw this and had to leave the room in stitches, when she came back in, she still had glassy eyes. Apart from that embarrassing moment, I realised that I had just done three classes in front of all the kids, and all thier parents and teachers. I slunk away feeling like my groin would be the topic of conversation for longer than I would like. The good news, nobody ever said anything about it again and I am still there. The kids are great, teachers are helpful and it is my best kindy every week.
Dennis, China.

Look, I Don't Get Out Much.
This happened to me when, as a young chap, I was teaching technical English to a lady who worked for a company that makes high-tech glue. She told me about the different kinds of glues and their uses, such as in products like disposable nappies (diapers) and sanitary towels. She asked me if I knew about that. Wanting to encourage her to tell me about the technical process, I said 'No'. She paused, and clearly very embarrassed, began to explain to me what a sanitary towel was...
Anon, France.

Little Giovanni H had written his name beautifully and practiced writing it about 10 times before others had located where to write their own names. I was very pleased. At the end of the day, Giovanni's mother came to me and said I do not understand why my son has the wrong name on his name tag and he was asked to practice writing another child's name. She said, "My son's name is Luis R." I looked at the boy and said,"Why did you raise your hand when I called Giovanni's name?" He looked at me and said, "Ms.E I was asking to use the bathroom." His mother and I really enjoyed that one.
Mary E.

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Simon Says 'Sit on the Desk'
At that time I was a newly graduated teacher and I was 22 years old. My students were about 12 engineers of 26 years old and more. I came into the classroom, put the tape recorder, my folder and a box with chalk on the desk and started to talk. After some minutes I sat on the desk and BANG! the desk collapsed under my behind and I landed on the floor, together with the tape recorder, the folder and the chalk. I had never felt and will never feel so embarrassed in my life!
Mercedes, Argentina.

The Ankle
My story begins in a low ability school in the mid counties - I worked there short term with a class of year 10 pupils (15/16 years of age). One young lady, who shall remain nameless was always one for wanting attenion. In she hobbled one day, near to the end of term, on crutches with a plastercast on her foot. 'I fell down stairs Miss'. I sympathised with her and she went on her way to classes.

During the morning, I took a class with her sister present. 'What has .... done to her leg?' I asked. 'What do you mean?' said her sister 'she was ok when she left for school this morning'

A short call to "mum" confirmed that there had been no accident and falling down stairs so it was time to tackle the young pupil.

the school nurse and I called her out of class explaining how worried we were about her foot - asking exactly how it happened and who took her to hospital, etc. On investigation, the plaster stopped at her ankle, so a 'very worried' nurse suggested that we take her straight back to the hospital to have it correctly set.

At this point she admitted all - with the help of a friend, some bandages, flour and water, she had 'plastered' her foot that morning before school and had borrowed crutches to hobble in on!!

Taken to the main corridor to explain the situation to a bemused head, the pupil did a 'runner' and did not come back to school until the following term!!!

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It was rhetorical!
Talking to students one day, discussing left and right hands, and which hands we do what with, eg use a fork. I turned to Ramon and asked him, and got the answer,"I only use my left" and realised to my horror that I had asked a one armed man.
Angela, Spain

The Song
I was on the second day of my CELTA and my first day teaching. I realised that my pre-intermediate class had no idea that I wanted their attention, and I couldn't bring myself to do something really 'teachery' like tapping on the whiteboard with a pen or clapping my hands... and I really needed their attention. Having no 'teaching skills' as such yet... I sang Advance Australia Fair. It gets a lot of laughs, but I don't recommend it as a long-term teaching strategy!

Love Letters One fine morning, I was taking my English language class. The focus was on letter writing. To open the class I had planned an activity that each of the twelve students would select a color for the writing pad, the color of the ink they would like to use and the first sentence they would write to their best loved person.

Since it was an adult teachers class I had given them the freedom of speech and choice of ideas. Just as it was the turn of the first teacher I saw the Principal , along with the Director, our boss and another officer walk towards the class. 'Uh oh!!' in a few seconds they would be in the class..and they would like to know what was being taught..and the topic was the opening of a love letter....how would the ladies ever speak up before the principal and the gentlemen? I quickly decided that we would continue what we were doing and hopefully it would not be too embarassing.

In they walked and sat down..'Please carry on!' Well I give full marks to the teacher who was the first to speak. She started. 'The color that I have chosen is blue and the ink is pink'. My, what a combination! 'And the first line that I will write to my husband ...Dear, I miss you as I am here for the course.." and so the next teacher trainee picked up the cue and the confidence...and the Director smiled and after a while whispered something to the principal..then they got up and left the class...and what a relief it was for me...I was afraid that considering the cultural and social setup my activity might not have been appreciated but it was started in such a light mood and with such a natural sentence that it looked just normal..but I still remember the few seconds of panic at seeing the boss coming to your class.
Mrs Anjum Wasim Dar, Pakistan.

At Least Get My Name Right!
I teach English in a Private Institute in Cyprus. One day a student of mine was writing something and i told him: 'Come on, hurry up'. He replied: 'Miss, my name is not Harry, it's Chris. (By the way, Harry is a common Greek name):-)

The Local Lingo
Teaching ESL in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains is quite interesting. Most of my students quickly pick up on some of our worst East Tennessee sayings. Two examples: Tamara, a lovely Russian girl who had only been in the USA for about two months, was busily typing on the computer. She turned to me and asked, "How do you spell 'Fixin' to'?" (i.e. "I'm fixin' to explain this saying to you.") Recently, another student doing his journal exercise asked me how to spell "Reckon." I told him I didn't understand what word he wanted and asked him to use it in a sentence. His example, "Mom, are we going shopping?" Mom replies: "I reckon."
Janette, Tennessee

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Gemma breaks the third golden rule of ESL
I am in my first week teaching English in Japan. I am not used to how hot it is here. Yesterday I was put in a room with no air conditioning right at the top of the school. It was my first lesson with this class, and I was trying to encourage them to answer. I was waving my arms around and holding my hand up when I wanted an answer, but they just kept laughing. it was not until the end that I realised this was because I had large sweat patches under my arms. Yukk! This would have been ok if I were a man, most of the men here sweat all over, but for a woman this was awful. I was so embarrased, will this class ever respect me now?
Gemma, Japan

Or even "manual work" for that matter
A brief anecdote. I'd set my advanced class a homework which entailed them writing a covering letter to a fictitious oil company. One excerpt: "..this is the reason why I have always had interesting experiences with oil and I am not afraid of hand job."
Michael Delea, Chichester

Look, this IS the fashion in Texas
I was running late for school, so I got dressed very quickly. About halfway through second period, one of my very fashionable young ladies raises her hand. "Ms. Meade, did you know you have on two different shoes?" It was more than difficult to get control of my class again.
Kerry Meade, Dallas

There, but for the grace of God, go I
During a sixth form (18-year old pupils) literature lesson I was asking the pupils to think about the nature of comedy. One suggestion was that we laugh when we see somebody make a fool of himself because we are pleased it's not us being foolish.

My pupils were horrified at this, and, as they were claiming that they would never laugh at anybody in such a position, there was a knock on the door. "Come in," I said. The door handle rattled, but nobody appeared. Again came the knock. "Come in," I called. The handle rattled again, but nobody appeared. Once more there was a knock at the door. "Will you come in!" I shouted in exasperation.

Suddenly, the door burst open and in flew one of the smallest boys in the school. The force he had used on the door sent him flying across the room. Half way across, he tripped and stumbled. Eventually, as if in slow motion, he tottered over and landed with his head wedged in the waste paper basket! By this time the sixth formers were nearly hysterical with laughter. My point was made!
Al, UK

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