How to survive the world of TEFL #2: Always look busy

I’m a dosser. I’m lazy. I procrastinate. Just ask Alex Case, who has been waiting for me to answer his interview questions for at least 6 months now. If I can get away with not doing something, I will. The one thing I truly have any energy for in life is the pursuit of avoiding doing a task which has been assigned to me. The one thing that really saves me in this life is that practically everyone else is exactly like me, especially those members of society that we brand with the monicker ‘the teenager’. Working with 18-year-old students, as you can imagine, is an absolute godsend. If there is one group who are less inclined to work than I, it is them. There’s no feeling quite like assigning homework that you know you won’t have to grade because no of the burgers will bother to do it. Happy times indeed.

I’ve now reached that point when I’m twice as old as my students and I have to admit I’m getting better at doing stuff, another twenty years and I might actually be close to fulfilling everything I’m supposed to do in a normal working day. Until the, I’ll continue falling back on my finely honed slacking skills, the most important of which I’m about to share with you. If you’re going to get away with doing bugger all, there’s one thing that you must do at all times.

Scott’s law of business

Scott’s law of business will save many a great procrastinator from ever having to do the amount of work there job dictates they should.

Never walk down a hallway in an office building without a piece of paper in your hand.’

How does this apply to me, a language teacher? I hear you, I hear you, and don’t think I haven’t anticipated your question, because, quite simply, this principle applies to TEFL as much as it does any job anywhere in the world. I think back to the days when I worked in a supermarket. There was no better way to avoid having to stack that shelf than to walk around with a clipboard. The number of times I walked around bloody Tesco with a clipboard – completely devoid of paper, mind – is nobody’s business but mine and yours. If I think back even further to my time working in a hotel, I recall a towel would always do the trick, or at very least a cloth to clean something with. The point here is that he who has something in his hand will be perceived as having something important to do. The naked clipboard example illustrates that you don’t even have to be that convincing in your would be business, just look like you’re on your way somewhere in a hurry.

Applying the law to TEFL

Have a pack of cigarettes handy

I know this sounds strange, especially if you don’t smoke, but people still appreciate the absolute necessity of smokers to smoke. Therefore, if you have a cigarette in hand it looks like you need to have a break to smoke it. I know you’re dubious but I’ve done this and it works. If you really don’t like the idea, use a pen and stick it in your mouth whenever the boss catches you and tell them you’re weaning yourself off the filthy cancer sticks and that need to place yourself in the social situations you used to smoke in to really break the habit.

Have a handout / worksheet with you at all times

The worksheet is the clipboard of the TEFL world. If the DoS walks past you, you could even throw in a ‘is the photocopier working now?’ This will act as a double whammy, as the boss will not only assume that you are desperately working to get ready for your class but will also be busy fretting about whether or not the machine is on the blink.

Learn your colleagues’ schedules

Not only is learning timetables much more fun than lesson planning, you can also waste loads of time pretending to look for someone who you know isn’t there. When they show up later asking what you wanted, have a time sensitive excuse as to why you no longer need to talk to them.

Have a pen that doesn’t work

You have a pen in your hand, that’s a surefire sign that you’re doing something constructive. OK, it doesn’t work, but this doesn’t negate the fact that you appear to be working. The great thing about this is that most people who pass you by won’t have a pen either, so you can keep the ruse going for a fair length of time.

These are but a few of my favourite work avoidance strategies. I’d dearly love to hear how you shirk responsibility.

Related Articles:

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
This entry was posted in Lead articles, professional development and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How to survive the world of TEFL #2: Always look busy

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How to survive the world of TEFL 2: Always look busy --

  2. Alex Case says:

    What makes you think you’ll get away with it?? My trained TEFL assassins (preferred weapon the guillotine, always work in pairs, elicit your own worse fear from you before using it against you) are on their way right now!

    How does someone so apparently lazy manage to set up a website??

  3. david says:

    I have my moments of hard work, not many, but Ihave a few.

  4. Adam says:

    Genuinely funny, but in a practical, ‘I might try that myself’ kind of way. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>