It’s your first day in your new job as a TESOL Teacher, and you’re worried. What on earth do you do? This article provides five tips to help you prepare your first TESOL class as a TESOL instructor.
1. Learn your ESL students names
If you have a small enough class, you’ll be able to learn their names quickly enough. If you’re teaching in a large class, get a seating chart set up with the student’s English and full name written on it. You’ll be able to call on students to answer questions, call to attention those who are not paying attention, and increase familiarity in the classroom. Never forget to tell them your name; but you will have to find out what local mores are for addressing teachers. In some cultures, first names are thought too familiar. In others, you may be addressed as ‘Teacher’. Find out what is expected, then decide if that’s how you want students to call you.
2. Relax, Smile, Speak
If you’re teaching your first TESOL class as a teacher, then smile, take a deep breath and focus on what you are doing. Once you are clear headed, you will be in a better position to determine what’s going on in the class, what English you need to teach, what the students need to learn, and you’ll start to build better relationships with the students themselves. Speak up, speak slowly, speak clearly. Once you determine what level students are at, you will be able to vary your English speed, vocabulary, style and volume as needed. But on the first class, you will need to speak to as many students as possible. A simpler delivery will help to achieve that goal.
3. Don’t be too ambitious
The first class in most schools and colleges courses don’t really cover much at all. This is normal. You will need to get names, hand out course books, introduce yourself, get introductions from students, tell students about the class and the rules. You may even need to hand out the course schedule showing class dates and topics, mid-terms/finals, expected contributions from students including homework, etc. By the time you cover most of this in an average class, you will be well through your class. If you have extra time, you may distribute a survey to students asking them about their learning, what they want to learn, and so on.
4. Set the rules, tone and atmosphere
It’s important to set the rules and tone of the class from the first day. Why? Because students do have learning issues and behavioral problems. Typical things you will need to consider as a TESOL Teacher include: cheating on exams or homework, failure to provide homework, absences from class, low grades, speaking first language in class, disruptive behavior, etc.
Speak to other teachers in the school or college, and you will soon get a feel for what the typical problems are, and what standards your school applies. An online masters in education program can help you prepare the best classroom management strategies. Make it clear from the start what you will tolerate and what is not acceptable. Then stick to it
5. Assert your authority as the teacher
You are the teacher in the classroom, you are the authority figure in the classroom. You decide what happens, what is right or wrong within limits. From time to time, you may feel you are a fraud, because you don’t feel like a teacher. After all, it’s your first job teaching since college. This is a natural reaction to your situation. But you are being asked to teach, and you represent the role of teacher in the classroom. How you assert your authority in the classroom varies from teacher to teacher and role to role. Have confidence in yourself, and you will learn the role of teacher.
Hopefully these tips will help you become a great TESOL Teacher from day #1. Do remember, though, it will take quite a while to feel at home with your class.
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Kenneth is a successful teacher with many years of experience in ESL for both kids and adults in Taiwan. For TESOL Teaching advice and help, check out his newsletter at http://www.tesolteachers.com/
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