Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Murphy's Law for EFL teachers

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1. If you have prepared a really cool warmer, everybody will be late for class.
2. If you have planned an important pairwork activity, an odd number of students will show up.
3. If you give your instructions so clearly that nobody can misunderstand, somebody will.
4. The student who misunderstood the instructions will explain them to everybody in his/her team.
5. Photocopiers always break when you have an important test.
6. The enthusiasm the students show for a worksheet you created is inversely proportional to the effort and creativity you invested into the worksheet.
7. No technology will work properly inside the bounds of a classroom.
8. The vocabulary the students memorise is inversely proportional to its frequency and usefulness.
9. When you are being observed, all good students stay at home.
10. The students will remember the exceptions, but not the rule.
11. When explaining grammar, you will only be able to remember cliche examples from your old secondary school books (such as If you hurry up, you will catch the train, or Look at the clouds. It is going to rain.)
12. Words misspell themselves when you write them on the whiteboard.
13. Whenever you spill coffee at home, it will land on a student's homework.
14. If you slip and fall in class, all your students will be present.
15. If you slip and fall in the street, at least one of your students will be present.

Well, I got as far as number 15. It is your turn now. Your suggestions are welcome.

19 comments:

Luke Meddings said...

A very nice post, Natasa. Those cliched grammar examples do not fit the UK either. For example, we have no need to hurry up to catch a train, as trains here are always late. And while it is true that if you look at the clouds, you know it is going to rain - it is also true that if the sky is blue and sun is shining, you know it is going to rain. Anyway I enjoyed this!

Natasa said...

Hello Luke and welcome to my blog. You say that in Britain "it is also true that if the sky is blue and sun is shining, you know it is going to rain". That's how I remember Britain. I once went to a shop which was five minutes away from where I lived. The weather was beautiful so I didn't take an umbrella with me. It was pouring by the time I got home.
As for the trains, they are late over here as well.

Barbara Sakamoto said...

These are great, Natasa! Even though our trains are almost never late, I can relate to most of these examples. Much funnier in hindsight.

Thanks for giving me my smile today!

sasorigal said...

Hello, Natasa! I found your blog via Barabara's twitter and loved this post! I can relate to many of them from experience as well and although at the time, they were not funny, I can certainly laugh at everything now! Thanks for sharing.

Alexandra said...

Hello Natasa!

I've found this blog through Marisa Constadinides on fb. Lovely post and only too true!!!
Here's my small contribution:
When there's a transport strike and you barely manage to get to class in time, only your most obnoxious or noisy students will show up!!!

amond said...

Found your blog via @joedale's new Twitter newspaper.
Number 15 really happened to me years and years ago, but the two students who saw me fall and hurt myself in the street helped me so much I was really glad they were there.
The whole list nade me smile, thanks Natasa!!

Natasa said...

Hello everyone and welcome.
Barbara, first of all, thank you for the wonderful comment on Twitter. It really made my day. Yes, I am sure trains are never late in Japan:)
Sasorigal, I agree. These were not funny when they really happened.
And Alexandra, thank you for your contribution. It really made me laugh. It is so true. In my case this often happens in winter when it snows and the traffic is bad. You can always be sure that there will be one student waiting and that it will be the obnoxious one. Or the one who never comes except when it snows and everybody else stays at home.
Amond, number 15 is the only one which didn't happen to me personally. I knew it had to happen to someone:)

Transitions Through Time said...

Share your personal experiences and listen to theres and atleast one student will remember you for there entire life. No matter how old they were when you were there teacher.

Anonymous said...

Your grammar examples made me smile! I studied abroad in Brazil and someone had made a song about them. It went, "The book is on the table. The book, the book, is on the table!" People who didn't know a word of English would tell me over and over that the book was on the table! :0D

Corinne said...

Hi Natasa. Your post made me smile. I teach language arts and science to 8th graders, and it's only my first year, but many of those things have come true already!

Natasa said...

Welcome, everyone. Sorry for not answering earlier, I was out of town.
Transitions Through Time, you are right. We do make a difference in this job.
Anonymous, I know what you are talking about. I still remember my first English lessons word for word. My secondary school teacher was allergic to the expression "from times immemorial" which appeared regularly in the students' essays. It was, of course, something from their primary school textbooks.
Corinne, when I first decided to write this post, all I had to do is look back at the 20 years I spent in the classroom:)

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Just popped in. You have an interesting blog. -J

Natasa said...

Thanks Jayne. I have just looked at your blog and I love it. I have always admired people who can express themselves through visual arts (the talent I definitely lack).

shawnee86 said...

Hi Natasa. I found your blog via @gsellart. Really nice post. Totally made me smile! Here is my contribution: That cd, tape, mp3 that you checked and worked will not work once the class has started.

sharon said...

Hi Natasa! Found you through a DELTA facebook page and it was so refressing to read something funny and at last, a blog I can actually relate to! You are so accurate with all your observations, and I think all 15 apply to me! Especially, the whiteboard spelling...I have often wondered why this happens?
Thanks for your thoughts,and making us all feel human!

Natasa said...

Hi Sharon. I am glad you can relate to this post. I agree - from time to time we, the teachers, need to remind ourselves that we are only human. We make mistakes and our classes often lack the perfection that we are trying to reach. I have been thinking about whiteboard writing since you asked the question. Here is what I think: facing the whiteboard makes us feel like we are no longer teachers but primary school pupils. It reminds us of all the times our teachers asked us to spell something on the board or do a maths equation. And our mind goes blank. Just a theory...

Natasa said...

Hi Shawna and welcome. You people have contributed so much here that I believe there is enough material for Murphy's Law Part 2:)
I hate the way I sometimes have to spend a lot of time trying to get the CD or the DVD to work and then, sooner or later, one of the students comes and tries to fix things for me. I always feel so stupid when that happens.

murcha said...

I just had to explore your blog further after reading your first post in the Kick Start Your Blog Challenge. Fabulous post that adds interest, livens up the blog and makes your readers laugh. We don't have trains where we live. All the students catch a bus home.
I can relate to the technology issues as we have so many in our small prep to year 12 rural school and as for that photocopier!!!!

Natasa said...

Anne, it is good to see you again here. As for technology issues, I hate the moment when I try to switch something on and it doesn't work and I end up standing helplessly as one of my (usually male) students fumbles with the device to see what's wrong. Luckily, I teach adults and there's bound to be at least one student who likes fixing things. As for that photocopier...

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