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Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Teachers’ Rules

picture of whatever

This past week we had our annual Teachers' In-Service meetings on campus. It was a great week and I heard many things that I want to put into use in my classes. One of the speakers read a list of rules for teachers in the late 1800s that he received by e-mail from someone who had visited a historical site this summer. I was able to find the list online. According to snopes.com it may not be authentic, but it certainly seems plausible and is still a fun contrast to life nowadays. As tough as we may think we have it today, I'm sure that some aspects of life were much tougher in the "good old days."

Rules for Teachers in the Late 1800s

1. Teachers each day will fill lamps and clean chimneys.

2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.

3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.

4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly

5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.

6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society

8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barbershop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty

9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.


In my files I found a list of Murphy's Laws of Teaching that might be a little less dated than the list above.

Murphy's Laws of Teaching

The clock in the classroom will be wrong.

Disasters will occur when visitors are in the room.

A subject interesting to the teacher will be boring to the students.

The time a teacher takes in explaining is inversely proportional to the information retained by students.

The length of a meeting will be directly proportional to the boredom the speaker produces.

The more important the occasion or the larger the audience, the greater the chance that the bulb in whatever machine you are using will burn out.

Students who are doing better are credited with working harder. If children start to do poorly, the teacher will be blamed.

The problem child will be a school board member's son.

Students with behavior problems are never absent — not one day — all year.

After 27.5 hours of intense creative work, your bulletin boards — the best ever — are finally complete. Ten minutes later you will be notified that you are assigned to another classroom in which the bulletin boards are not the same size as those you had just prepared.

The day the cafeteria serves mini-missiles — raisins, corn, peas, etc. — is the day the superintendent will have lunch at your school and will decide to eat with your students.

Once your notebook is full of good ideas, tests, sample lessons, films and a list of 500 library books for supplemental reading, and all of this is correlated to the textbook you are using, you will get the message that they're adopting new textbooks next year or that your current textbook is out of print.

Your first experience with a vomiting student will take place with a guest speaker in the room.

When the instructor is late, he will meet the principal in the hall. If the instructor is late and does not meet the principal in the hall, the instructor is late to the faculty meeting where the principal is waiting.

Good students move away.

New students come from schools that do not teach anything.

When the teacher says "weird" rather than "emotionally disturbed," he learns that the person to whom he is speaking is the school counselor.

The instructor's study hall will be the largest in several years.

The administration will view the study hall as the teacher's preparation time.

News of what you failed to do travels at 1,000 times the speed of news of what you did well.

The week after you have completed your lesson plans that will keep you on schedule with the curriculum and allow you to teach all you need to before the school year ends, you will lose four days of school because of snow.

Parent-Teacher Open House will be held on the night of part two of the best three-part TV series of the year.

On a test day, at least 15% of the class will be absent.

If the instructor teaches art, the principal will be an ex-coach and will dislike art. If the instructor is a coach, the principal will be an ex-coach who took a winning team to the state.

Clocks will run more quickly during free time.

Murphy's Law will go into effect at the beginning of an evaluation.


I'd love to hear the comments of fellow teachers to the lists above. I'm sure some of you could add your own Murphy's Laws of Teaching!


"Contentious people are not right with God." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=

Time is the best teacher; unfortunately it kills all its students.

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What’s Your Motive?

What motivates you? How do you motivate others? Is it even possible to motivate others?

Motivation is an interesting phenomenon. Here at the beginning of a new school year, we teachers try to think of ways to motivate some of our less enthusiastic students to try harder in our classes. Not necessarily an easy thing to do. If you read the "experts" in the field, you find a wide range of ideas and suggestions — instructor's enthusiasm, reasonable expectations and goals, showing relevance of the material, asking engaging questions, active involvement and participation of students, building self-confidence, variety, rewards and privileges, rapport between teacher and students, and on and on it goes.

There's a whole industry out there whose goal is to help motivate people. One of their products is the motivational poster. You've undoubtedly seen them. They generally have a symbolic picture, a keyword, and an inspiring or motivating saying or quotation. Here's an example…

motivational poster on destiny

Here's one on persistence…

motivational poster on persistence

There's another whole industry that is a spin-off of the motivational posters. They call their products demotivational posters. Here's their version of persistence…

demotivational poster on persistence

Their whole premise is that "motivational products create unrealistic expectations, raising hopes only to dash them." They go on to say, "…we created our soul-crushingly depressing Demotivators® designs, so you can skip the delusions that motivational products induce and head straight for the disappointments that follow!"

This poster of theirs pretty well sums up their philosophy…

demotivational poster on motivation

Some of their posters are quite cynical, but many are downright hilarious. Sometimes the picture is indispensable and other times their wording is enough. Here are a my absolute favorites…

demotivational poster on apathy

Blame - The Secret to Success is Knowing Who to Blame for Your Failures.

demotivational poster on burnout

Challenges - I expected times like this - but I never thought they'd be so bad, so long, and so frequent.

demotivational poster on cluelessness

Defeat - For Every Winner, There are Dozens of Losers. Odds are You're One of Them.

Dysfunction - The Only Consistent Feature of All of your Dissatisfying Relationships is You.

Failure - When Your Best Just Isn't Good Enough.

Futility - You'll Always Miss 100% of the Shots you Don't Take, and, Statistically Speaking, 99% of the Shots You Do.

demotivational poster on incompetence

Ineptitude - If You Cant' Learn to Do Something Well, Learn to Enjoy Doing It Poorly.

Mistakes - It Could Be that the Purpose of Your Life Is Only to Serve as a Warning to Others.

Pessimism - Every Dark Cloud Has a Silver Lining, but Lightning Kill Hundreds of People Each Year Who are Trying to Find it.

demotivational poster on tradition

Trouble - Luck Can't Last a Lifetime Unless You Die Young.

Underachievement - The Tallest Blade of Grass is the First to be Cut by the Lawnmower.

Wishes - When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor.

You can see the whole Demotivators® collection on their website despair.com and maybe even decide to buy some of their funny products.

Before leaving despair.com behind, I'd like to highlight a couple more of their posters. Here's one that goes to the very heart of this French teacher…

demotivational poster on effort

I wonder if anyone has shown these two demotivational posters to Obama…

demotivational poster on hope

demotivational poster on change

Ever since I first found the Demotivators® website, I have been saving things that others have put together, following the same basic template, satirizing a number of areas of life. Here are some of the ones I've collected…

demotivational poster on cleaning

demotivational poster on committees

demotivational poster on individualism

demotivational poster on misspelling

demotivational poster on uniqueness

demotivational poster on unity

I found one that I altered — I thought that the blank image with nothing but the word Alzheimer's was over the edge, so here's my softened version of it…

demotivational poster on senior moments

I hope that you were more amused than demotivated by the preceding posters!

Anyway, back to motivation… What motivates you? If you are in a position to try to motivate others, what works for you? Like those posters above, what has demotivated you at times?

As cute as it may be, would the following "motivational" poster be enough for you or those around you?

demotivational poster on awesomeness

I fear that that is what is happening in many classrooms today — teachers telling their students how great they are in an effort to motivate them.

I'm really looking forward to getting some reader input on this whole area of motivation.


"When I choose to sin, it's like taking a spoonful of death because sin and death go together." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=

In the world of political correctness, people aren't lazy, they're only selectively motivated.

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Did He Pass the Test?

boy taking a test

Does the thought of taking tests fill you with terror? Probably. Classes haven't even begun for us yet, and I'm already thinking about tests. We're in faculty in-service meetings this week on campus and they have been excellent - very helpful and thought-provoking! Next week we'll be working in our offices getting our courses ready to go. Then after several days of course registration, classes will begin September 3. Part of teaching is writing and grading tests. But tests aren't limited just to the realms of academia. Many potential employees have to take tests to show their competencies for the jobs they'd like to land.

Here's a story about a man in that very situation.

Tom is applying for a job as a signalman for the local railroad, and is told to meet the inspector at the signal box.

Tom seems like a good prospect, and the inspector decides to give Tom a pop quiz. He starts off by asking, "What would you do if you realized that two trains were heading towards each other on the same track?"

Tom says, "I would switch one train to another track."

"What if the lever broke?" asks the inspector.

"I'd run down to the tracks and use the manual lever," answers Tom.

"What if that had been struck by lightning?" challenges the inspector.

"Then," Tom continues, "I'd run back up here and use the phone to call the next signal box."

"What if the phone were busy?"

"In that case," Tom argues, "I'd run to the street level and use the public phone near the station".

"What if that had been vandalized?"

Tom quickly replies, "In that case I'd run into town and get my Uncle Leo."

The puzzled inspector asks, "Why would you do that?"

"Because he's never seen a train crash!"

(So, did Tom pass the test and land the job?)

Now here's a little test for you. It appears to be a list of trick questions with obvious answers, but it really is!

The world's easiest test?

(Answers follow, but NO cheating!)

1. How long did the Hundred Years War last?

2. Which country makes Panama hats?

3. From which animal do we get catgut?

4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5. What is a camel's hair brush made of?

6. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7. What was King George VI's first name?

8. What color is a purple finch?

9. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10. How long did the Thirty Years War last?

Now remember ... NO cheating!

Answers to the world's easiest test…

1. 116 years, from 1337 to 1453.

2. Ecuador.

3. From sheep and horses.

4. November. The Russian calendar was 13 days behind ours.

5. Squirrel fur.

6. The Latin name was Insularia Canaria — Island of the Dogs.

7. Albert. When he came to the throne in 1936 he respected the wish of Queen Victoria that no future king should ever be called Albert.

8. Distinctively crimson.

9. New Zealand. (Chinese gooseberries is an older name for kiwifruit.)

10. Thirty years, of course! From 1618 to 1648.


If that test made you feel as dumb as it made me feel, maybe this final item about testing will make you feel like a rocket scientist (or at least a rocket surgeon…).

A college football coach had recruited a top talent for the team, but the player couldn't pass the school's entrance exam. Needing the recruit badly, the coach went to the dean and asked if the recruit could take the test orally. The dean agreed, and the following day the recruit and the coach were seated in his office.

"OK," the dean said, "What is seven times seven?"

The recruit looked terrified as he thought it over for a moment then said, "I think it's 49."

The coach immediately jumped to his feet. "Oh, come on, Dean," he begged, "give him another chance!"

Lends weight to the oxymoronic nature of the expression "sports scholarship," doesn't it? Do you have a test experience you'd like to tell about? We'd love to read about it in the comments.


"Right affections lead to right thinking, and right thinking leads to right living." - Dr. Bryan Smith

=^..^= =^..^=

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, then the lesson afterwards.

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What Does a Teacher Make?

This past school year was my 35th year of teaching, and I still love teaching and students. This blog post is a reposting of something I sent out exactly five years and one day ago, at the conclusion of my 30th year of teaching. I can think of so many people in my past whose influence on me continues — several of them are reading this right now, and many who have passed away but who, in a sense, live on in their students. I'm sure many of you can think back to a teacher who made a huge impact on your life.

What does a teacher make?
by Taylor Mali

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He went on to tell the other dinner guests that he thought it was true what they say about teachers - "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

To corroborate his statements, he said to another guest, "You're a teacher, Susan. What do you make?"

Susan, who had a reputation of honesty and frankness, replied, "You want to know what I make?"

"I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I can make a C+ feel like the Medal of Honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face if the student did not do his or her very best."

"I can make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence."

"I can make parents tremble in fear when I call home."

"You want to know what I make?"

"I make kids wonder."

"I make them question."

"I make them think critically."

"I make them apologize and mean it."

"I make them write."

"I make them read, read, read."

"I make them spell "definitely and beautiful" over and over again, until they will never misspell either one of those words again."

"I make them show all their work in math and hide it all on their final drafts in English."

"I make them experience music and art and the joy in performance, so their lives are rich, full of kindness and culture, and they take pride in themselves and their accomplishments."

"I make them understand that if you have the brains, then follow your heart ... and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you pay them no attention."

"You want to know what I make? - I make a difference."

"Now, what do you make?"

Updated 9/1/2010: Someone kindly sent me the name of the author of that poem, and I have inserted his name under the title. He himself mentions that there are several unattributed, "sanitized versions" of the original that have made the rounds and he's not bothered by it. I'll leave what's a sanitized version up since the original contains some stronger language not typical of ivman's blague.


"Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself." - Chinese proverb

=^..^= =^..^=

2 teach is
2 touch lives
4 ever

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Assigning Final Grades

We're in final exams here at BJU. Need I say more? 😀

One part of exam week is assigning the final grades for each student for the semester. Some people think it's a haphazard process - like throwing a set of papers down the stairs and assigning grades based on which step each paper lands. For my classes at least, it's mainly mathematical, based on grades from homework, quizzes, projects, and tests. We even use rubrics (which I lovingly call "Rubric's cubes") for grading oral presentations and tests. Today's iv is what is supposed to be the method used in one university in America.

Here is a list of the ways professors at one American university are said to grade their final exams:

Dept Of Statistics:
All grades are plotted along the normal bell curve.

Dept Of Psychology:
Students are asked to blot ink in their exam books, close them and turn them in. The professor opens the books and assigns the first grade that comes to mind.

Dept Of History:
All students get the same grade they got last year.

Dept Of Philosophy:
What is a grade?

Law School:
Students are asked to defend their position of why they should receive an A when they really deserve an F.

Dept Of Mathematics:
Grades are variable.

Dept Of Logic:
If and only if the student is present for the final and the student has accumulated a passing grade then the student will receive an A else the student will not receive an A.

Dept Of Computer Science:
Random number generator determines grade, except in the year 2000, when no one was quite certain that would still work properly.

Music Department:
Each student must figure out his grade by listening to the instructor play the corresponding note (+ and - would be sharp and flat respectively). Tone-deaf students fail.

Dept of Physical Education:
Everybody gets an A. (Many would join me in only *wishing* that were true!!!)


In my spare time, I've been reading online tips on how to have an easily readable blog. I found an excellent article you can read if you want to by clicking here - especially some of you other bloggers. I have found a blog theme that I think is really nice looking and easy to navigate. I'd like to know how my readers would grade the readability of how my blog currently looks.

chickadee update...

The chicks are looking like miniature adult birds now, and we're almost a little surprised they're still in the nest. Below is a picture of them this afternoon. To give you an idea of their size, the inside dimensions of the bird house are 4 inches by 4 inches.

Becka was pleased to see the first hummingbird of the year visit our hummingbird feeder this afternoon. (In case you can't tell, we really enjoy watching birds.) Our other bird feeder has regular visits from yellow finches, Carolina wrens, cardinals, rosy finches, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice, occasionally brown thrashers, bluebirds, crows, and of all things woodpeckers!


"Eternal life comes with the expectation of holy living." - Dr. Chuck Phelps

=^..^= =^..^=

As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools.

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