Murphy's Laws for Teachers

These are things that director Peter Murphy didn't learn in kindergarten or in his training to be a teacher but wishes he did.

  1. Every teacher is a teacher of writing.
  2. Teachers who are writers become better teachers of writing.
  3. The more students write, the better they write. The more students read, the better they write.
  4. Give your students (and yourself) permission to write lousy first drafts.
  5. Spelling counts. So does grammar. But not on the first draft. Except for standardized tests.
  6. If you read everything your students write, they are not writing enough.
  7. Kids today donít write as well as they used to, and they never did.
  8. Reading, thinking and writing require concentration which cannot always be done in school with 25 others looking on, and cannot always be at home with television, music players, noisy families, etc.
  9. It takes three years to figure out how to teach, whether itís a new book, a new Shakespeare play, or a new course. It takes three years for new teachers to figure out what they are doing. Be patient.
  10. Teaching students to read poetry will teach them important critical, inferential thinking skills which will allow them to detect tone, motivation and theme.
  11. Discussing two literary works at a time encourages students to think more clearly and cleverly about each one.
  12. Students learn what they are taught. Teachers who assign writing as punishment, punish themselves as much as they punish their students who learn that writing is punishment.
  13. If you teach students to take a test, they will learn how to take that test. If you teach them to read deeply, think critically, and write intelligently, they will be able to succeed in an increasingly complex world filled with virtual beasts making disingenuous sound bites.
  14. If you do not venture outside the textbook, neither will your students.
  15. Challenging students to think critically will pay off when they think critically about what and how you have taught them.
  16. No matter what you are teaching, you are teaching yourself.
  17. Smile, be positive, donít be a bully, be fair, be honest, make beautiful mistakes, apologize sincerely, breathe, treat your students and colleagues with respect, fertilize your sense of humor.
  18. Rules for classroom management: Manners, Politeness & Love.

Interested in more words of wisdom from Peter?

Reserve him for your next inservice by calling 609-626-3594 or by clicking here.

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