What Every New Teacher Should Know About the First Day of Class
Going into a new class on the first day can be exciting and intimidating for new teachers and experienced teachers alike. Depending on your teaching situation there are a lot of variables to take into account and good planning will be your friend.
The first day of a new class is always exhilarating, and if you have nerves, there is no need to worry. With these tips for what every new teacher should know about the first day of class, you can march into your first-day well-prepared and worry free!
What Every New Teacher Should Know About the First Day of Class
Plan Well and Be Flexible
Most new teachers tend to over-plan their lessons for the first while. This is not a bad thing. You can never be too prepared for that first lesson. When you are planning, here are some things to think about.
The lesson, especially the first one will never go exactly as you imagined it or planned it. Teaching can be unpredictable and that is why it is so much fun.
Don’t worry about time on the first day. If an activity takes 20 minutes that you thought would take 40 minutes, give yourself a break and move into your next transition.
Don’t try to control too much. The goal of the first class is to get everyone familiar and learning names, to give some explanation of what is to come in the class, and to make your students feel welcome and excited. If you can accomplish those things on your first day, you have done your job!
Don’t take things too seriously and let the students settle in as well. Often the students are just as nervous as you are and really just want to get through the first day without any problems. Remember to put them at ease by creating rapport and using humor.
Talk About Yourself
You’ll want to have at least one brief activity that allows the students to get to know you a little bit and ask you questions. This should be a relatively small chunk of your lesson plan, as you really want to focus on the students. It will put them at ease to get to know something about you and if you can show them you are willing to put yourself on the spot, they will be more inclined to follow suit. There is one activity that works wonders in this department, and can be pulled out at a moment’s notice if you find yourself with extra time. Think of three to five answers to questions students might ask you. Be sure to add in a tricky one or two. You then write just one word answers on the board. For example: Six, blue, twelve, Thailand. The students then ask you questions about your answers, trying to guess the question. Stay away from things that are too easy like age or country, because then it really isn’t much of a game. There will usually be one or two answers that may stump them and you can all have a good laugh when you reveal your answers. (six--# of my siblings, blue—color of my car, twelve—countries I have visited, Thailand—my favorite country).
Keep Expectations Reasonable
As a new teacher, don’t be too surprised or disappointed if the first day of class doesn’t go exactly the way you had planned. It may be less exciting than you thought it would be or maybe you had a great time, but forgot most of your lesson plan. You may need time to get into your rhythm with the class and they are still trying to figure you out. Provide a number of warm-up activities that aren’t too hard to explain or difficult to carry out. That way, if something falls flat, you can just move into the next thing on your agenda. Sometimes you may plan to do four activities, and you only get to do two of them. Give yourself the freedom to stray from your lesson plan on the first day.
Set the Tone
One of the most important things that you want to accomplish on the first day is to set the tone of the class. If you are too serious or too wild on the first day, that may put you at a disadvantage later. Plan activities that are moderate, use humor to engage students, and connect with your students. You want to provide structure for the students and also show them that you are the teacher and you do have expectations. Go through a syllabus or course description and address any questions they might have. Be as relaxed as you can, and be yourself. That will surely set the tone of positivity in the classroom.
Teaching for the first time can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be an ordeal.
If you use the above tips and trust your capabilities, you will make it through the first day with many experiences and funny stories to share! You will also have many more first days to approach, so getting into a good routine from the beginning is advisable.
I am an ex-ESL teacher who has transitioned from that industry into the field of adult education. I have a long history of teaching ESL in numerous countries and varied classroom settings. I’ve also taught a variety of learners, but found I loved teaching teens and adults the best. I spent three years certifying and training want-to-be teachers in China and the Czech Republic. I am also a writer and editor interested in anything to do with education, travel, and lifelong learning.
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Dear Risby, if I were you, I would try to learn as much as possible about their local ways and habits. For instance, something about their family life (I guess most females there are housewives). I would show them some pictures describing a European family and a Congolese family and I would try to talk to them about the major differences - number of children, occupation, things they do in their free time. By doing this you will introduce yourself (you may show them your own photos as well) and will encourage them to learn the first topic - Family.
I love this site - thank you to everyone! I'm still completing my TESOL studies, but have been been offered a 6-month contract teaching a class of really low level Congolese ladies. Does anyone have any tricks up their sleeve for a first class at this level????
Yes, the tips are great and they have proved reliable for lots of teachers. At the first lesson with my new students (I teach adults) I do my best to establish a relaxed atmosphere. From the start I want them to understand that we are partners, not just a teacher and a student, and I will help them to reach their goal. I encourage students to ask me questions about my teaching experience, hobbies, etc. They should know that I'm available for personal contact. I always familiarize them with the things we are going to do during the term and at the end of the lesson I ask them to tell me what they expect from the course.
I think the first DAY of Class is a day to break the ice , to provide a safe environment for your learners. Your students should feel comfortable and relaxed to be ready for their new experience eagerly. It is a good idea if you are able to build your rapport with your learners from the very beginning.
Great tips!! As usual, your articles are fun and great help. I've been teaching for more than 20 years and I still feel terribly nervous the day before my first class with a new group of students! Thanks a lot and keep on working for us!!
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