You’ve been hired as an ESL teacher (congrats!) and now the time has come to put your skills to the test. What will your new students be like and, more importantly, how are you going to prepare for your first day of class? Don’t fret! We have some solid advice to make sure you’re first day at work goes like clockwork.
GET AS MUCH INFO AS POSSIBLE ABOUT THE CLASS
Before you start, ask the director of studies some questions to understand the class better. Start with the basics:
- Will it be adults or children?
- What will the class size be?
- What English level do the students have?
- Is there anything out of the ordinary you need to know ahead of time?
- Is there a log about the students from previous teachers?
This information will help you to anticipate and plan for the needs of your students. Preparation isn’t always enough, though! As an English teacher, you must be flexible and be prepared for anything. You may be given inaccurate information about the students’ level, or the class size might be bigger, or smaller. You should always be flexible and have back up exercises for the first class so as to not feel caught off guard in case it isn’t exactly as you expect.
CREATE A CONNECTION FROM DAY ONE
It’s important to create a connection with your students from day 1, so always include an activity where they get to know you. We really enjoy ‘Two Truths and a Lie‘ because it’s a fun way for everyone to get to know each other, and works for almost every level, class size and age. Also, check out this useful list from OneStopEnglish with six activities, all of which work really well for the first day. Some teachers start with student introductions but this wouldn’t be appropriate for lower levels, for example, because they will need time to prepare it since their vocabulary is limited. A good alternative is to have questions prepared and have the students in pairs or groups to get to know each other and have them introduce their classmates later in the week. No matter how you choose to do it, always keep in mind that it has to be appropriate to their level and the class size.
DON’T JUST ARRIVE ON TIME, ARRIVE EARLY
Know where your class is and plan on being VERY early. Not only because you might get lost on your first day, but it’ll help with your nerves to be there early so you’re not flustered and you can get calm enough to feel in control of the situation. If you’ve got time to have a coffee or tea before your students arrive, even better!
SET THE TONE OF THE CLASS
First impressions are important, everyone knows this. The first day you will set the tone for your teaching style, your expectations from the students, and how the class will be conducted. Are you going to be laid-back and friendly? Humorous? Strict but fair? This is something that you should think about ahead of time when planning the class because it will be difficult to change this dynamic later on.
EXPLAIN WHAT THE STUDENTS SHOULD EXPECT
If it’s a children’s class, have the class rules prepared ahead of time. This doesn’t have to be done in a boring way that involves spelling out the rules bullet by bullet. Think of creative ways of doing this, maybe by using different visuals, role playing, memory games or a game of Jeopardy. If it’s an adult class, talk to them about the methodology that is going to be used, what materials they will need to use in class, and what they are going to learn during the year.
Try to enjoy your first class and make it enjoyable for your students. It’s normal to be nervous; your students will be, too. Don’t worry! If you’ve done your research, prepared thoroughly and followed all of our other advice, you’ll do great.