Here you are. There go your students. It's your first day of teaching and you've just finished introductions.
Your heart races as you fumble through your lesson plan. Every second that passes feels like an eternity. Every eye in the classroom burns through you.
They wait...and wait...
And then you deliver. Horribly.
We've all been there. We've all had the first-day jitters as new teachers working for a school or language facility. We've all fumbled over grammar points or have been unable to answer a student's question on the spot.
After all, many of us come from non-teaching backgrounds. We were once roofers and mechanics, HVAC technicians, bankers, members of office staff or fresh out of college. To learn all the intricacies of the English language in just 4-6 weeks is unrealistic. It's the theories and methods of teaching we absorb. The rest, as they say, comes with experience-and a bit of due diligence on our part.
But there are a few tricks that we could use to help us keep our cool under the pressures in this foreign field. Here are three:
1. Remember to Breath
Don't forget to breath. Whenever we slip up in the classroom and lose momentum, we feel it inside. What we feel inside we tend to show. Our students will pick up on that feeling.
I experienced this during one of my first corporate gigs in Bangkok. I opened up my lesson poorly. I tried too hard to have fun. And it didn't work. Instead I became flustered, which sent me down the wrong path for the rest of the class. The energy was off. I knew it. The students knew it.
It was only after a few more mishaps that I learned to reset and to refocus myself, to breath - mindfully.
2. Learn to Laugh at Ourselves
If we can't laugh at ourselves, no one could. No, that's not true. People will still laugh at us. So it's best not only to learn from our mistakes but to laugh at them too. Thais love to have fun. If we can turn our mistakes into jokes, our students will appreciate the good humor.
3. Be Honest with Ourselves and With Our Students
I learned this bit of wisdom from my TEFL course trainer. If we don't know the answer to a question, we shouldn't lie our way through the answer. We can simply tell our students we'll find the answer and get back to them.
By doing this we show ourselves in a positive light, that we too are human, and despite being a native English speaker, that we don't know all the answers. It also closes the student-teacher gap, bringing us closer to our students as we are now able to learn with them.
After all, this is what teaching is all about. It's about learning English with our students, not dictating it at them.
As Joseph Joubert once said, "To teach is to learn twice."
How do you deal with being a new ESL teacher? For the veterans, is there any advice you can share with us newer teachers?