You’ve been dreaming about a career in education for as long as you can remember. That vision you had for yourself saw you through four years of undergraduate school and another two in your certification program. Now with your sheepskin clutched tightly in your hand and a position as an English teacher in your first ESL class, you are poised to start living your dream, but to be perfectly honest you are scared out of your mind at the prospect of standing up in front of that filled classroom.
The good news is that you are not alone in your fears, and just about every beginning teacher goes through the worries you are currently chewing over. While simple experience will go a long way towards assuaging those butterflies that you are feeling in the pit of your stomach, that little pearl of wisdom will do nothing to help you when the class bell rings at 7 A.M. and you are put to the test. As such, if you follow these basic tips you will not only make it through your first few days of teaching, but you will soon be on your way to mastering your new field.
Kids Need Routines…
As anyone who has ever spent any appreciable time with children can tell you, kids like to test their boundaries. While this a natural inclination as they begin to spread their wings, it behooves you to set firm boundaries that will define your classroom management style and give the children under your charge a solid idea of what is allowed and what isn’t in your classroom.
The vast majority of new teachers lose control of their classrooms by relaxing these classroom standards of behavior. When you start making exceptions to the rules it fosters uncertainty among your students and will invariably breed jealousy and discontent among your charges. It is incumbent upon you to foster trust with your new students, and that is only able to happen when you keep al your promises. As such, always stay true to the rules you have established to govern classroom conduct.
To reinforce the importance of routine, you should begin your first day by instructing your students step-by-step on what your expectations are for their behavior. Detailing how they should enter the classroom, organize their material, ask questions, and turn in their assignments will go a long way in reducing the teacher’s workload every day.
Set Goals and be Organized…
For your students to stay focused requires that you remained focused. You should always have clear goals in mind when you are putting together your lesson plans, and you should be able to clearly transmit the expectations you have for the assignments that they will be handing in. Should they know they have a paper, presentation, or a completed outline due, they will be able to stay focused and rise to the occasion assuming they know what your requirements are.
A classroom is a lot like life in that things don’t always go as planned. As such, you should always have a back up plan ready to go that represents more than simply popping in a movie and hoping for the best. Flexibility is the key to a successful teaching career, and nothing illustrates that flexibility better than the ability to go with the flow in a classroom setting regardless of what is falling apart around you.
Finally, a word on organization is needed. Teachers teach by example and nothing that you teach your children will be as important as the need to be organized for scholastic success. Needless to say, if you are repeatedly pawing through your bag for everything you need, that will impact your student’s perception of you and their organizational skills will suffer as well.
Partnering With Parents…
Perhaps the only person more nervous than your students on Parent-Teacher Conference night will be the teacher. Parents have two primary concerns when they meet their children’s teacher; they want to know if you are a professional and whether you have their children’s best interests at heart. To maintain that professional persona for your student’s parents you must remain organized and do your research. Fully research that student’s work and performance capabilities while stressing the future academic growth potential of the child. Parents want to be reassured that their child is in the best possible company all day, and being organized, fully informed, and positive about their future academic potential will help ensure that you have a willing partnership with those parents.