Published 13th December 2017
Finished your TEFL course? Found a new job? Ready to start your new career?
Congratulations! You have completed the first step on your TEFL adventure and who knows where it may take you. But for now, you need to focus on your new job. This will be the first time you are in front of a classroom on your own. You are in charge of the planning and execution of your own lessons, not to mention the resources, classroom management, discipline and assessment that needs to be done as well.
Up for the challenge?
We’re sure you are. After all, you’ve put in the time and the effort on your TEFL course. But considering that you’re probably nervous, excited and exhausted, you need to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed by your first few weeks as a TEFL teacher. Here are a few things you should think about so that you don’t give up on being a TEFL teacher before you’ve even started.
Be careful of burn out
Burn out is real, especially in teaching. If you have just completed your TEFL course, you may already be exhausted. Or maybe you have just moved halfway across the world, which comes with its own share of stress and fatigue. Teaching is hard work. You could be teaching five or six hours a day, never mind all the time you need to plan those lessons, plus you’ll need to attend staff meetings – all in all a lot of hours!
If you keep going without stopping, at some point your body will give up on you and you’ll get sick. To avoid this, don’t spend all your time planning and make sure you have a good balance of teaching and down-time. Make time for exercise or relaxation, eat well and make sure you get enough sleep. Now is not the time for all-night parties, either. Save those for a well-deserved holiday.
Make use of your support systems
Getting to know your new teaching situation can be tough. Finding your way around the school, becoming familiar with the coursebook, getting to know your students all takes time. All this on top of your usual workload. It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed at this point. Just know that there are people who can help you.
Hopefully your new school will appoint another teacher to be a mentor for you – someone who can show you the ropes, explain how to use the copier and remind you to fill in the necessary paperwork. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everybody has been in your shoes and has needed to ask the same questions. One day you may be the mentor for somebody else.
With all the stress of starting a new job and trying to be a good teacher, you may forget about the most fundamental aspect of teaching; having fun. You are the teacher now and you are allowed to do whatever you want in the classroom (within reason of course!). Take the time to get to know your students and let them get to know you. Remember that you are not teaching a language or a coursebook, but you are teaching your students.