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Five Tips for your First Day of TEFL

It’s your first minute in front of a new class. You have a room of expectant faces looking up at you waiting.

First impressions count. If you stand there and falter the class will know what they’re dealing with. If you allow little Jimmy to answer his mobile phone then the class will know they can do what they want. If you don’t know what you are doing, they all know.

But on the other hand…

If you stand there confidently, friendly, prepared, then the class will know they are there to learn and enjoy themselves. If you make a well timed joke then the class are with you. And then if you take away little Jimmy’s mobile phone you won’t have any trouble with that kind of behavior for the rest of the year.

It’s that simple.

But to help we’ve prepared the most important 5 tips for a new class. Follow these and you won’t go wrong.

1. Preparation

Find out from your school owner or Director of Studies as much as you possibly can about the class. This means age, ability, number and so on. This will help you plan because you don’t want to prepare a lesson on Justin Bieber only to find out the “teenage girls” you thought you were having are actually middle-aged businessmen.

If the class have been using a coursebook, make sure you get hold of a copy beforehand but don’t assume that the page where you need to begin is correct; I’ve done this a couple of times only to discover that the class has moved on since then. (Also you might want to photocopy a few relevant pages in case a student has forgotten their book.)

In other words, prepare as thoroughly as you can what you will do in the lesson. Have plenty of flexible lesson activities ready to use at a moment’s notice.

But remember also, you don’t know yet how the students work. Who knows what they’ve been told by the school administration or the previous teacher? Maybe half the class has forgotten their book or bought the wrong one.

If you have some extra activities to pull out and use then there will be no awkward, panic-filled silences in class where you are standing there thinking about what the hell you are going to do next.

Make sure these extra activities are as flexible as possible and useful with all ages and abilities.

See the main article: Lesson Preparation

2. Introductions

The class will be curious about you. You need to tell them who you are and establish your credibility. You could write up on the board (before they come in) your name and a few salient facts about yourself.

JOE SMITH
English Teacher for 5 years.
Degree in English from Bigname University; TEFL Certificate from ICAL TEFL.
Taught in Japan, South Korea.
Big fan of American Football. Favorite team: New England Patriots.

And you also need to know about your class. If it’s small then maybe get each student to give you a couple of sentences about themselves. If it’s larger then break them into groups. (But remember, if the class already know each other well then they don’t need to introduce themselves to each other again!) Of course at this stage you are already starting to learn their names!

3. Be Firm

Keep discipline tight. You can relax with the class later in the term, but for this first lesson you must control it all. This is important.

See the main article: Hard then Soft‏‎

4. Pre-Flight Check

Arrive early and check the classroom. Make sure there are enough desks and chairs; that any equipment you need is working and cued up. Open the windows and let some fresh air in. Or close the windows and turn up the heating!

5. Relax

And that’s it. Now take a few moments to relax and you will be fine!

See the main article: Stage Fright – Overcoming Teaching Nerves

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