Teacher’s Tales: 2 Lesson Plan Mistakes You Don’t Recognize Until Too Late

10 Aug

Ni hao!

When I first started teaching, I was so nervous! I had so many ‘what ifs’ running through my mind. What if the kids didn’t like me? What if my lesson plans completely flopped?

I eventually found my rhythm with teaching—but my learning curve had some memorable mistakes that make me cringe when I think of them! Here are two slip-ups that caught me by surprise.

These kids used to act like tyrants—but after several weeks together they transformed into my best behaved class!

The Prince Banana’d the Princess

The workbook we were using required students to fill in the blanks of the short story with the correct conjugated verb.

It was a classic tale of a princess who was kidnapped by a witch, then saved by a prince. In order to read the story aloud before completing the activity, I asked the class to replace each blank with the the word ‘banana.’

As the kids took turns reading, I realized I filled the story with innuendo. The end went something like this:

“The prince banana’d the princess. Then they banana’d together and banana’d happily ever after.”

Once I realized my poor word choice, I began laughing in embarrassment, which got the kids giggling. As the contagious laughter filled the room I noted that ‘banana’ is not the noun to choose for the next time.

The Takeaway: Choose your words with care!

The Letter K

Another afternoon, I was teaching some small children the ABC’s. One of the activities was to get pairs of kids to physically form the letters of the alphabet.

It was going well until one little boy and girl formed an unintentionally provocative letter ‘K.’ I will leave the rest to your imagination, but I will tell you that I rapidly moved on to another letter!

The Takeaway: Children get really creative with this activity (which is great)! Just stick to the other 25 letters of the alphabet.

These boys were always making me laugh—especially Eddie (in the middle)!

I’ve learned that being a teacher means expecting the unexpected. Sometimes you create what you think is an amazing lesson plan only to realize that you overlooked some important details.

Maybe you forgot about an underlying cultural aspect of the game that they don’t understand. Or maybe the activities you prepared are at the wrong level for the group. I am learning to be adaptable and to always have a plan B!

Last week I finished working with English First and started working with Trillium Montessori School. While I will miss the staff and students at my first school, I’m excited to see what the children at Trillium will teach me!

Zài jiàn,


My Favourite Free ESL Teaching Resource

Starfall is great for teaching phonetics to students aged 3-8. It’s particularly helpful if you have an interactive white board.

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3 Responses to “Teacher’s Tales: 2 Lesson Plan Mistakes You Don’t Recognize Until Too Late”

  1. nataliananton August 11, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    BAHAHAHA! Best. story. ever.

    • Cecily Sanyal August 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

      I think where I work now will be even more hilarious-15 Tianas (two year olds) all in the same room…:)

      • Angie Sanyal August 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

        Cecily, that was hilarious.

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