8 Tips Every New TEFL Teacher Needs To Know
So you've just earned a TEFL certificate and now you're ready to put what you've learned into practice. Before you do, I thought I'd provide some tips that I wish someone had told me before I went abroad to teach English.
1. Take Your Time
Many people who complete their TEFL programs, want to get in the classroom as soon as possible to start teaching. I understand this completely, but I strongly encourage new teachers to take their time to find the right job for them in the right place. It's no secret that there are thousands of teaching opportunities all around the world. It's also not secret to people who have taught abroad, that a lot of those jobs are bad. Anyone who's considering going abroad needs to take their time and do some homework before accepting their first teaching position. Do some research about the country/city you're going to, look for reviews on potential employers, compare employee contracts with what's out there, and so on.You may also want to consider going through a teacher recruitment company. For more info on this check out this past entry
2. Be a Professional
A lot of people think that teaching abroad means working a few hours a day, in between traveling, partying and laying on a beach. The truth is, being successful at teaching abroad requires full-time commitment and professionalism. For the first few months (at least) you'll find a lot of your time will be spent planning. Also you'll be expected to act professionally. This means dressing appropriately, arriving early, and being prepared for class.
3. Be a Team-Player
Help your co-teachers as much as possible, and you'll be amazed how much help they'll be to you as well. Don't be afraid to share lesson plans, activities and games and reach out for support from them as well. This doesn't have to be only at work either. Having a network of people that can provide help or advice (especially for new teachers) outside the school, will make your life a lot easier and enjoyable.
4. Be Open-Minded and Don't Be Afraid to Try New Things
There's a good chance that wherever you choose to teach abroad will be much different than where you come from. It's so important to embrace these differences and try to learn about the new culture that surrounds you as much as possible. To do this, it requires that you keep an open-mind (yes, things are different, but it doesn't mean worse) and try new things...like food, activities, etc. Along the same lines as the last point, be patient. There is probably a lot that will bother or annoy you in the first little while of living somewhere new. Most notably, if you are in country where the people do not speak your language, this can be a very frustrating experience in many ways. For example going to the bank in Korea used to take me about an hour just to transfer money to Canada. Or being in a taxi and ending up in the wrong place...also very frustrating.
5. Remember You Are The Boss
For a lot of new teachers, especially if you are only a few years older than your students, they often do not understand their role in the classroom. You are the teacher and the authority figure in the classroom. You are not there to be well-liked or best friends with your students. You are there to promote learning among your students. For many other new teachers, the problem is self-confidence, and when you have low self-confidence in front of a class, your students will easily pick up on this. My advice: Fake it until you make it. When you do this you'll soon find that you become that person you are trying to be. *Side note: When being the boss, don't forget it is also important to be fair and impartial when deal with students.*
6. The Internet is a Teacher's Best Friend
There is literally thousands of lesson plans/activities on every topic you'd be teaching in your class, on the Internet. There is no need to re-invent the wheel every time you need to plan a lesson. Just make sure you modify what's out there to best meet your students' needs before using someone else's material or ideas. Here are some of my favorite sites
7. Enjoy Your Life Outside of School
Teaching can be tough and can really burn you out at times, so it's so important make the most of your time away from school. First and foremost, this means unplugging from your job. Teachers have to make a conscious effort to not think (or maybe a better word would be 'worry') about teaching during their free time. Instead time should be spent on doing what you love. Hobbies, spending time with friends, and travel are all great examples of things you should be doing on weekends and holidays. Also, somewhat related, making a commitment to your health will really pay off with your teaching. Being healthy, means having more energy, which means you are able to teach to your full capacity leading to greater student success, which is really the ultimate motivator for teachers....think about it.
8. Don't Forget bout the People that Got You Here
Experiencing culture shock and being homesick are two obstacles that almost all TEFL teachers will face at one point. One of the best ways of dealing with this is by staying connected with friends and family at home. It's amazing how a conversation over Skype or Whatsapp with Mom or a best friend can really lift your spirits. Another reason to stay in touch (especially if you're away for a few years) is to keep up with friends. Otherwise it can be hard to jump right back into your friendships when you return home. There will be so many exciting experiences and so many new people when you first move somewhere new, but it's key to remember who got you this far in life. A lot of people who return home from teaching English feel really disconnected from friends and family if they don't make a conscience effort to stay in contact with the most important people at home.
So these are just 8 of the tips that I could think of off the top of my head today. I'd love to hear form some other people about helpful tips and advice for new TEFL teachers. You can do this in the comment section or on my Google+ page