How should I approach my first day in an TEFL classroom?

Even with a completed TEFL course under your belt, taking charge of your own classroom for the first time can be unnerving for many teachers. It is perfectly normal to feel anxious on your first day, but certain strategies can help make it more manageable. Here are some tips to ensure that your first day as a teacher is one you will recall fondly, not one you would rather forget.

Be punctual

For teachers, punctuality isn't just important, it is crucial. Always arrive early to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and get ready for the lesson. On the first day, be clear about where, who, and what you are teaching well before the start. Arriving with ample time allows you to better tackle any surprises your first lesson might throw at you.

Be prepared

Meticulous preparation is critical, especially on your first day in a new role. Having a comprehensive lesson plan in advance provides a guiding path, irrespective of how the class is progressing. The format of the plan doesn't really matter - scribbles on a post-it, or a detailed layout on a laminated sheet, as long as you are clear on your steps and their timing. Ensure you are well-equipped with all necessary materials and equipment before the lesson commences.

Also read: What are the best books for teaching ESL?

Play games

In TEFL, games are a fun way to consolidate language learnt in the lesson and are especially beneficial in your debut class. Games can serve as icebreakers, activities related to the lesson's point, or fillers towards the end. A quick online search provides numerous game ideas. Popular TEFL games include Hangman, Pictionary, and Wordle.

Get to know each other

Building a strong rapport with students is essential for long-term smooth operations. Similarly, it is important for students to feel comfortable communicating in English with each other. Introduce yourself through personal photos and engage in Q&A. You could also orchestrate an activity where students interview each other, making them more comfortable and providing you with insights about each individual.

Also read: Do TEFL teachers need a second language?

Learn their names

Students tend to participate more when addressed by their names. It boosts the class's rapport and encourages them to ask for help when needed. It might be challenging with a large group on day one, but it will always be appreciated. Also, consider conducting a needs analysis in the first class to understand their proficiency level, learning requirements, and preferred learning methods.

Be confident

Confidence is pivotal, especially on the first day, as you are addressing a group of strangers, some of whom might struggle with English comprehension. If you are visibly stressed or anxious, it might unsettle the students. Whenever you feel flustered, pause, breathe, and remind yourself of your qualifications and abilities. It is also best to keep the fact that it is your first class to yourself.

Also read: Can I teach English abroad without any teaching experience?

The silver lining is that once you have tackled your first TEFL lesson, it gets progressively easier. Each class you teach will bolster your knowledge, skills, and confidence, and soon you will wonder why you were ever apprehensive about that first lesson!