Tales of professional development: Mary


Today’s post is going to be a bit different. One of my greatest frustrations in life is that I don’t get to work with children anymore. That’s why I’m going to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a teacher called Mary. She had a very good job at one of the most prestigious schools in town, but something was missing. Yes, money was missing and Mary found another school to work for. Who said working at one school was enough to make ends meet?

Mary polished her shoes, sharpened her eyeliner and prepared the best lessons she could. The students were a bit difficult, Mary would often say, but you know, children will be children. And children who are 10, 11 years old after studying all day and having a fast lunch will not behave like the Queen of England; Mary knew that, she was no fool.

Mary and I would talk for hours about how to make lessons more interesting, how to keep students’ engaged and paying attention. Then Mary had this fine idea: she would have a short break during her two-hour lesson. Her pupils had five minutes to go to the bathroom, drink water, stretch their legs, whatever they wanted. Do you know when you watch old movies and children are always so happy when their parents give them a dollar, as if they could buy the whole world? That’s what those five minutes felt like and Mary was glad to give them the world.

‘We need to put an end to this, Mary’, said the principal. ‘Parents are going to complain if they know students are having a break in the middle of class! They don’t pay for an extra break. Besides, the kids are not being taken care of!’, warned the principal. A sad Mary then had to tell students: pee time was over. They had to give the world back.

That Mary had a very, very serious problem: she suffered from a condition called too much. She prepared too much, cared too much, wanted her students to succeed too much! Mary noticed people were not kind to her anymore. I know why: Mary was always asking for copies, talking to the principal about students, discussing the material. Nosy Mary!

Mary arrived from her vacation and to her surprise, another teacher was already there in her classroom! Then Mary was sent to HR for a ‘conversation’. Oh, Mary, you silly. We all saw it coming, but you. You should have done like the other teachers, taken your medicines. Oh, rebel Mary. They sacked you before the other started suffering from too much.

That stuck–up, copy-asker Mary could not contaminate the teachers. They were still good teachers who did exactly as told. Wait! Had Mary contaminated the students? Would they want too much from now on?

Taylor Veigga

Taylor Veigga is a teacher, teacher trainer and materials designer based in Rio. He holds a post-graduate degree in Media-Education (PUC-Rio), a BA in Languages (UFRJ) and has worked in the ELT industry for over 18 years. T's interests include pronunciation, English as a Lingua Franca and language ideologies. Taylor has been a pedagogical coordinator for BrELT since 2015 and is IATEFL PronSIG Joint Webinar Coordinator. He also blogs at https://tveigga.com.

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