The summer is ending (unfortunately) and it is time for many new teachers to go abroad and experience their first proper post CELTA job and a time for many returning teachers to get back into the teaching zone. Here are some tips, collected from several teachers, about how to start the new academic year, some are obvious, and maybe some will be very helpful indeed.
In the Classroom
Nerves, Rapport and classroom management
Everyone is nervous when they get back into the classroom but make sure you own the classroom. You are the teacher and there to guide the students on their English journey. Don’t be pushed around by them but make sure you are always fair. Establishing classroom rules is a great idea (get them to think of the rules) and always enforcing them is a must. You can introduce reward systems like points and prizes and a sanctions system too while always following through with what you say.
Try to build rapport as soon as possible with your students. Get to know them as learners and individuals but don’t be afraid to mix things up in the classroom either. Move people round the classroom and mix up the learners as you see fit, it is your classroom after all. Build rapport with your fellow teachers too. There is nothing worse then either being a new teacher and everyone is mean or being a returning teacher and all the new teachers don’t want to talk to you. Building up camaraderie in the staffroom is really important for the sharing of ideas and the mental health of teachers.
Remember to not be a control freak in the classroom. Students need to do the work and students need to learn so keep that TTT down and make sure you use some engaging and relevant activities that are personalised for them.
Tips for you, the teacher
- Be prepared – don’t work hard work smart
Very obvious, I know, but the key to walking right back into the classroom is not to work hard but to work smart. There are loads of resources that can be used again and again and be adapted to different levels. Always try to build up your material, so you have something for every occasion, and make sure you have some games in your head for a good error correction (e.g grammar auction) at the end of every class and some great fillers never go a miss.
*Check out teachingenglish.org for great lesson plans: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/
A key piece of advice for every teacher, including ourselves, is don’t ‘overplan’. Maybe you have fallen out of the planning habit over the summer but overplanning is a disaster for every teacher, new and old. It is time you can use to become accustomed to your new country or city or to reconnect with people; I can guarantee that every teacher who reads this has overplanned or is doing so right now! (including me)
*Don’t be too rigid with your plans; you can always change them if they aren’t going well in the class and even improvise if you have the skills to do it.
2. Don’t be treated like a fool
A new country can be very daunting and this tip always applies if you are returning as well, don’t be treated like a fool. It may be a bad boss or you simply don’t like/ fallen out of love with the country. Don’t be afraid to walk away from the job and try again somewhere else. We are constantly told that we are expendable and easily replaced, so if your job is bringing you down, then leave. Don’t waste a precious year of teaching in a place you hate, trust us, it isn’t worth it.
3. CPD and a teacher tool kit
Always prepare a teacher tool kit for all the vital things needed in the class. Someone will not have a pen, I will put money on that, and your board pen will always run out. Make sure you have everything you need, including a drink, water (vodka looks similar) or maybe coffee.
Don’t forget your CPD (professional development) and to work towards it. As much as the new year is for the students it is also for you to develop your skills and to develop as a teacher. All too often we forget that becoming a better teacher is what we all want and that advancing in our career is an important aspect to start thinking about, as soon as possible.
We’ve just started a Reflective Journal where we write about a) things we’ve learned, b) teaching ideas and what we want to improve, the idea being that we try to improve our teaching by building up resources and becoming aware of our problems. Also don’t forget in-house training courses and online training courses too (if you have the time).
*For some info on CPD: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/teacher-development/continuing-professional-development
*Here is a self-assessment form to get you off the ground with your CPD: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MOOCSET
If you have any more tips for teachers, for the new academic year, then add them in the comments below. I would like to thank the teachers we spoke to about this question who gave us most of these wonderful ideas and we wish everyone a great start to the new academic year.