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
- Every teacher is a teacher of writing.
- Teachers who are writers become better teachers of
- The more students write, the better they write. The more
students read, the better they write.
- Give your students (and yourself) permission to write
lousy first drafts.
- Spelling counts. So does grammar. But not on the first
draft. Except for standardized tests.
- If you read everything your students write, they are not
- Kids today donít write as well as they used to, and they
- 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.
- 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.
- Teaching students to read poetry will teach them
important critical, inferential thinking skills which will
allow them to detect tone, motivation and theme.
- Discussing two literary works at a time encourages
students to think more clearly and cleverly about each one.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you do not venture outside the textbook, neither will
- Challenging students to think critically will pay off
when they think critically about what and how you have
- No matter what you are teaching, you are teaching
- 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.
- Rules for classroom management: Manners, Politeness &
Interested in more words of wisdom from Peter?
Reserve him for your next inservice by calling 609-626-3594 or