Updated: Dec 2, 2019
About to get started on your teaching journey? Read these tips from Fiona to get you started.
You have your qualifications, you've moved to a sunny new country and you've landed a job in a local TEFL academy. Good job. The hard work starts now but don't worry, Fiona's got your back. Follow these top tips and you'll be up and running in no time.
1- Be organised. Many a keen new teacher has come a cropper in the first couple of weeks by arriving late to classes due to misreading their timetable. Ensure that you have checked and double checked: your timetable, class starting times, including what time you’re expected to be in your room before classes start, and whether there are regular staff meetings during the week/term that you need to attend.
Now you’ll know you’re a born teacher if you get goosebumps over the following piece of advice: raid your local stationery store for a work diary, note book, folders, hole punch, stapler and well, whatever else floats your boat and keeps the admin side of your work life running like a well oiled machine.
2- Nerves are good. Honestly! They will help to keep you focused on your students particular needs during each class and when you make mistakes, and we all do- new and seasoned teachers alike, your keenness to be an excellent teacher will make sure that you correct them, learn from them and move on.
3- Use all available resources. To help combat your nerves, as well as using your own ideas, call upon your colleagues. Ask them how they build relationships with new classes or deal with more challenging behaviours. Several brains are better than one after all and tackling difficulties early on and with help is the smart thing to do.
4- Break the ice. Name games, kinaesthetic physical games, getting to know you activities etc. etc. all help to thaw the freeze in your classroom and help set the tone early on that you want to have fun with your students; fun, of course, being a key component in teaching and learning English.
5- Back up activities. In a situation where students are going through the lesson material too quickly or perhaps when an exercise you’d planned isn’t working out (which happens from time to time so don’t fret) it’s a good idea to have a Plan B, in short, to have extra activities planned.
A contrasting activity often works wonders. For example, if your students have been sitting down quietly focusing on grammar work, get them up, moving and speaking, i.e. a running dictation game to practice their grammar.
6- Ssssslooooow down. Make like a tortoise and take it slow. During teacher talk time, make sure you explain instructions slowly and carefully. Use simple vocabulary in short sentences. Remember that EFL students will appreciate slo-mo explanations far more than a hurried flurry of orders due to your being nervous and racing ahead.
7- Running your ship. Classroom management takes practice and of course each class is different. Ever heard teachers talk about the psychology of the classroom? This involves observing your students’ body language and facial expressions. Are they getting bored? Distracted? Confused? You need to be aware of their responses and act accordingly.
Rearrange tables and chairs, use a seating plan if necessary, create a reward system (star charts etc.) for younger classes. Be an active presence in your classroom- move around the class regularly to monitor and facilitate learning. You are the captain of this ship!
8- Be Flexible. When you are starting out as a teacher, you can learn a lot not only from other teachers but also from your own students. Allowing students to give you suggestions for what, and how, they want to learn is a great way to stay connected. Both you and your students will be able to see improvements during the classes. As teachers, we are always learning and improving and taking our students’ feedback into account is a great way of doing just that.
9- Set Goals. Set regular goals for your classes. You will have different age groups, levels, and needs. Goals will help you to stay focused and make lesson planning easier. They can be simple such as increasing vocabulary, pronunciation, or anything else you feel students need to improve within their level and comfort with the language.
10- Take language classes yourself. This is not so you can use the local language in class (some English language academies expressly forbid this anyway), but to make you a better TEFL teacher. As a language student yourself, you’ll better empathise with the struggles your students face in class— like understanding activity instructions, pronouncing difficult words, or getting homework done on time. You’ll also see what works in the classroom and what doesn’t and you can “steal” ideas for your own classes. Bonus!
How did your first day go? Did this blog help you out? Let us know in the comments section below.
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