An ordinary wonderful day in the life of a TEFL teacher




Great things sometimes surprise us…


I haven’t had much time to tweet and especially blog – something I love doing, and like doing in a calm way, so that I can really reflect and write a post worthy of being read by so many wonderful people. But end of terms are like this, not only for me but for most people that might take the time to read this. Vacation is around the corner and I hope to make up from it. But today’s post is something I felt I had to write, if just to let it out. Because todays was an ordinary teaching day for me and in so many ways it surprised me. My teaching, my students made a day who started out on the wrong foot end in such a great note. So forgive me for a little hastiness, any typos or other things that might come out wrong. Today I write this post for me. To be thankful for my day, my students and the fantastic career I chose to pursue.




Mondays and Wednesdays are my busiest days. I start teaching early in the morning ( those who know of my sleeping patterns – or lack of sleep is more likely – will probably understand what an effort it is for me to teach bright and early. I am very much a night owl.) then work outside the classroom for the rest of the morning, rush home with son to eat lunch in 15 minutes and rush back to school for a full afternoon of back-to-back teaching. Then a hurried snack/supper and on to a private 1:1 student for another 2 hours. So I usually have a 14-hours shift on these days :-)





... and bring us hope.

As I woke up today, I wasn’t expecting it to be a good day. I was a bit under the weather, worried about covering the content with my morning group (only 4 more classes and 3 chapters to go), thinking about paperwork that had to be dealt with urgently… I go into twitter after  I get everything ready in my classroom and am waiting for the students to arrive, and see Gavin Dudeney’s new post. I am not getting into details, but in short it’s about being bullied online, threatened by a person who you thought was your friend, who you’ve shared personal feelings and stories. And his account of the sickening (and terrifying) experience he’s going through scared me. Scared me because I realized I had a false (and potentially dangerous) sense of security on twitter. It scared me because it made me think back about the people I consider my friends on twitter – could any of them be a bully? It scared me because it alerted (?) me that sometimes not everyone is who they appear to be. It made me feel uneasy – I truly believe (still) I have met some fabulous people on Twitter, some of them I have become closer with, many have become dear friends, people I admire and learn from. Are we really living in a world where people are that mean to each other? Where you have to be wary of everyone, every word, every gesture and measure your own even among who you believe to be friends. A place where you can’t trust anyone? I had these feelings and thoughts all over my mind (and heart) as I got into class…




And then the first wonderful ordinary thing happened. Instead of the boring, tiring, hurried class I had thought I’d have (covering the content I am late at), my students gave me a great, fun, relaxing class. They (7 students ranging from 10 to 13 years old) started out by asking if we could have class sitting on the floor today. They had never asked for that, but I thought “Why not” – I like sitting on the floor. We did all I had planned out to do, they worked hard, it went smoothly, we laughed… some students were sprawled on the floor, some leaning on chairs or the wall. Everybody felt comfortable. It was light (despite being a “full-force” grammar-nuggets-with-no-sauce-to-make-it-easier-to-swallow class)… and it lifted my spirits a little.



 Then in the afternoon…


more great surprises, new (and somewhat risky) ideas, change of plans… everything worked perfectly. I had an amazing (an unplanned / unplugged) discussion with my students about formal testing (they’re currently going through the many tests to get into college -the feared “vestibular” ). What a great thing having my students so engaged, making such intelligent collocations on the issue… no regrets about the forgotten plan. Totally student emergent, lots of learning, lots of using the language… I learned a lot from them – and about them. The only sad aspect of this class is that it’ll make it even harder to say goodbye in 2 weeks :-) And my final class… well, we’re currently discussing tolerance. And my students’ final task of the day, from the handbook, was to create an acrostic poem about RESPECT. And  in only 10 minutes – they worked in pairs, here’s what they came up with:




“Respectful is everything you have to be to be sociable and accept other people in their own way. There are differences everywhere you go. If you’re not respectful you have to change that and start being tolerant.”

“Rational behavior that you expect from someone who doesn’t have prejudice, or envy you – can be someone tolerant.”




“Respect each other without only seeing the differences, but also paying attention to the similarities, because everybody lives in a society so it’s common to meet people with a different opinion or lifestyle.”








So here is the main reason for this post, what moved me to write it. it was a big coincidence that the topic we were working in class had to do with what was on my mind during the day. Or was it? What my young students wrote made me hopeful that maybe I am making a difference by bringing these discussion to class, by fostering reflection, making them think about the world we want to live in. Maybe these few students are going to be more tolerant, respect others. They made me feel that there’s more good and good people, good things in this world, in the younger generations. So I thank my students for ending my day in a very positive and cheerful note. For helping send the negative thoughts and feelings away, replacing them with positive ones. How lucky are we to be teachers and see this, eh? Some people could surely learn something from my students today… Here’s to that!



14 comments on “An ordinary wonderful day in the life of a TEFL teacher

  1. Ceri Jones says:

    what a great post, Ceci!
    I think everyone’s sensitivity was heightened yesterday to the good and the bad of twitter and the blogosphere and friendships and relationships on and off line – and the importance of respecting and valuing all the people we come into contact with – I know mine was! It really made me value all the good contacts out there – and close to home.

    • Hi Ceri :-)

      The weirdest thing is that I didn’t intend to post this at first…just vent. Then I changed my mind and posted it, but didn’t tweet it… Thought I’d just leave it there… Little did I know there’s no such thing on the blogosphere, eh? But you’re right about the importance of respect and value the contacts we are able to identigy as true friends (present company included!).

  2. Putting aside the troubled thoughts we had yesterday, and still do today, what I like about this post is its joyfulness and generosity. You may not even realize how much it encourages me, and no doubt many others, to reconnect with our work.

    Thank you!

    Simon Greenall

    • I was touched by your comment Simon. And really happy my post encouraged you to reconnect with your work. So many times we get caught up on our routines we forget to see things, we forget what made us choose education as a career in the first place. That’s what my students did for me yesterday: they made me remember why I am friendly and positive and why I became a teacher. No other job would have given me that yesterday. And apparently a lot os teachers from our PLN needed just a reminder of that :-)

  3. DaveDodgson says:

    Hi Cecilia,

    Like you and Ceri, I felt on a bit of a downer yesterday after being reminded of the darker side of social networking and, dare I say, humanity. However, I firmly believe that the vast majority of people out there are truly decent, honest and respectful and I’m happy to hear your students made your day a great one!

    As teachers, we live for moments like these :)

    • Exactly the same feeling Dave. It hit me harder than I had thought at first, I think mostly because of my “default” mode of trusting people from the start. But yeah, I still think most people are decent, sharing and respectful. I hope we’re right ;-)! My students sure fit that description. We live for moments like this and I was very fortunate to have one of them on a day I really needed it! Thanks for your lovely comment Dave – as usual.

  4. David Warr says:

    Hi Cecilia, a lovely post, a great idea to sprawl on the floor. In UK schools, most children sit at desks (obviously, like the rest of the world), but in one school I visited a while back, there was a comfy sofa and some leafy plants next to it, hiding the two girls. at one stage, I poked my head round to see how they were getting on with the activity I’d asked them to do, a rewording of the language plant, and it was the best ever, so much so that I now use their version in my demonstrations and tell teachers about the sofa and plants. Does your classroom resemble Amazonia at all?

    • LOL!!! No David, my classroom has no resemblance with Amazonia – quite the opposite actually. Very cold, clean, professional… But we do have some cushions we can get and take to class. I never do that… and I should, because I love sprawling on the floor. It does wonders to break the rigid classroom-teacher-student format, helps the students feel more comfortable and less threatened. I wish I could take a little plant to my classroom… not sure it’s possible, since I share the classroom with other teachers at the times I am not teaching. But you’ve planted a seed here… I’ll look into that :-) Thanks David!

  5. David says:


    I really enjoyed your post. Said a lot to me and especially how we do make a difference – good days or bad. Just showing up as a teacher is A LOT.

    But mostly like you, I enjoy teaching for what I can learn from my students, how they keep me young and growing….

    Powerful stuff. Keep inspiring us all…


  6. In short, it is accounts like this that remind us what a very beautiful thing it is we do…

    Thank you, Cecilia, this is very inspiring and uplifting.

    – Jason

    • Glad to be of service Jason :-). Sometimes we need to be reminded of the uniquely beautiful aspects of our jobs. And this blogosphere thing is all about that isn’t it? We get reminded and cheered up by each other, when we need.

  7. Lucas Pires says:

    It doesn’t matter how bad the bad moments are, the moments that matter are the good ones. Most of the time we percieve life as sucession of regular events and there is a lot of beauty and joy hidden in these moments.

    Thank you, Cecilia, for sharing your beautiful regular day!


    • Lucas!!!! I’m so proud to have you commmenting!!!! Way to go (and keep this up!!)

      And yes, we have to remember to see the beauty in the every-day things ;-) Thank you for commenting! :-)

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