First Day of Teaching Advice

First Day of Teaching English Abroad Advice

So this is it, you've (hopefully) completed a TEFL/TESL program; you did your research and picked a country you'd like to teach in; you interviewed and have been given the job you really wanted; you packed your stuff and said your goodbyes; you got on a plane and made the leap of faith; you tried to quickly acclimatize to your new surroundings; and now its time to teach for the first time....

To many new teachers (or even people who have taught for many years) your first day of teaching  in a foreign country can be overwhelming; not to mention that the first day is so important for setting the tone for your classroom and teaching style. Not to worry though, with the right preparation and mindset, your first day can be a great success. Here are some things I wish someone had told me before my first day of teaching abroad:

-My first tip actually starts before your first day, but it is just as important as anything you do on your first day of teaching. Be Prepared. It is important that you try to get as much information on your school, classes and students that you possibly can before your first day
  • Visit your new school before teaching if possible. Talk to your new boss or co-workers about the school's schedule, curriculum, resources, rules, students, etc. Try to take home some textbooks to start working on lesson plans. Do some research on the internet about what to expect from the students and school system in whatever country you choose to teach in.
  • Create your own classroom rules / procedures...don't just make them up on the fly.
  • Create activities / lessons for your first week of teaching
  • Make sure you know how to get to school on time. Research public transit if you have to take it.
  • Make sure you have all the supplies you need for your first day of teaching. Your school should provide these, but you may need to bring your own.
-On your first day arrive early for work. There is nothing worse than being rushed on your first day. It will cause you to rush through classes. Also be early to class, so you can welcome each student to class individually.

-Dress more than appropriately. Even if you are told that the dress code is casual, dress professionally on your first day (and perhaps the first week or so)

-Don't just jump into your lesson on your first day. Introduce yourself and have students introduce themselves. There is a high possibility your students will be just as nervous as you are on your first day. 

-Introduce your classroom rules...AND MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW THEM. When teaching a new class in a new country, it is natural to want your students to like you and new teachers often try to be friends with their students. Although having your students like you is nice, having students understand the rules and that there are consequences for their actions is far more important. If you are too 'friendly' on your first day your students will take advantage of your niceness and you may struggle to regain control of your classes. It is much easier to start off strict in class and become more lenient later on, then the other way around. The first day and first week will set the tone for the whole year. (Obviously if you teach adults you may treat your students differently, however after teaching adults for many years, I can tell you that you will have to be strict with adults sometimes as well).

-Speak slowly. When we are nervous people often speak quicker, which is not helpful at all in class with students who are just learning English.

-Consider doing some ice-breaker / team building activities, especially if your students do not already know each other.

-Be patient. No matter how prepared you are or how great your lesson plan is, it may not go according to plan. Teaching in a foreign country is a much different experience that teaching in your home country.

-Following your first day, reflect upon your first day of teaching: 
  • How did the class go? 
  • Could the students understand what you were saying? 
  • What approaches / activities worked better than others? 
  • What can you improve upon?
  • What goals do you have for this class?

So those are some of my suggestions. Please me know what you think or feel free to suggest some more tips for new teachers.


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