Julia Surovegina
TeachEnglish

20 things I wish I had known when I first started teaching

NKDniu8EVKE1. First few years will be extremely stressful and you will feel like giving it up a million times. Just keep on working hard and believing in yourself! Good routine and establishing a great structured class are abilities you won’t obtain overnight.

2. Unsuccessful classes are inevitable. Even when you’re experienced and skilled. We’re human beings, prone to making mistakes, being emotional and having doubts. Don’t beat yourself up over it, learn from your failures and move on.

3. Save all the materials, activities, ideas, books, worksheets: use clouds, drives, USBs, your laptop or anything else, but do not waste your effort and time spent on researching and creating new stuff. It might seem useless to you now, but, trust me, you will highly appreciate it in the future.

4. While we’re on the topic, categorize your materials and create folders. A lot of them. Grammar, vocabularfkU0-I2ORxoy, pronunciation, speaking, listening, reading, functional language and what not. It saves an incredible amount of time when preparing for your classes.

5.Talk to your students’ parents. Don’t be intimidated by them. Make them your allies. Don’t underestimate the role they play in the learning process. Show them that you actually care and are willing to go out of your way to help your students succeed.

6. Every day come to your classes with a clean sheet. Let go of all anger or frustration that were tagging along from the previous lesson. Forgive and forget. Your students might behave differently every single class. Most likely they’ve already forgotten whatever happened last week, so there’s absolutely no point in carrying your negative emotions into the next class and punishing them for that once again. It’s a new day, it’s a new life.

7. Kids are extremely intuitive and will pick up your mood in a split of a second. This equation works in the 90% of cases: if you feel like you are about to have a bad class, that’s exactly what you’ll end up having and, on the contrary, if you are easy-going, relaxed and optimistic about your students, your positive predisposition will be caught by your students as well.

8. Always have something extra to do in case you run out of all the planned activities and games and are faced with 10-15 minutes of not knowing how to entertain your students. However, never freak out about this. Keep calm and just take a few minutes to figure it out. Play it cool and your students will believe that’s what you are.

9. Keep in touch with other teachers, discuss your class issues, ask for an advice, offer a helping hand and just share your emotions, stories and even complaints with each other. It helps not to feel like you are a total failure in case of a misfortune and makes you feel lVuLaonbp6d0ike a part of a friendly community of passionate professionals.

10. Never give up working on your English. There’s always room for improvement. No matter what your background is. No matter how talented you are. No matter where you live. I guess I don’t have to explain this one. Your students deserve having a teacher with a great command of the language they strive to learn.

11. Allow yourself to take a rest. Even if you take pleasure in your work immensely and it doesn’t feel like something hard to do, you don’t want to end up having a burnout. Don’t miss vacations, clear up some time to relish a cup of coffee in your favorite café, have at least 1-2 days off completely without any classes, indulge yourself with whatever makes you feel taken care of. At the end of the day, your students will suffer the most from you getting extremely exhausted and demotivated and we cannot allow this.

12. The trick of teaching English is to make your students feel like they are not studying at all, like this is not their primary goal in the class. English has to become their tool to get across their ideas to each other, but not their main focus.

13. It’s okay to be strict, as long as you don’t cross over to being simply mean. Even if your students are not used to anybody being firm with them and start protesting, just keep it fair, establish your own rules and make sure they adhere to them. They will adjust quickly and you will reap the benefits of having a well-organized and disciplined class.
h6_Gl_oqpmw 14. Success is a matter of time.Sometimes your most mischievous students will turn into your biggest achievement. Just don’t rush it. Be patient and remind yourself that different kids take different time to get better and reach their full potential.

15. Never forget that there’s a whole world of fears, doubts, failures, psychological traumas and insecurities hidden from you in each of your students. You never know what battles they are fighting once they leave your classroom. You have no clue what their family situation is, what their health condition is and how emotionally stable they are. In no way is it an excuse, however, always try your best to dig deep to get to know your students better and find out more about their life before labelling them.

16. If you are forced to make the choice between teaching your students properly or inspiring them to learn English and get them more interested in other cultures, make the latter one. It will bring more benefits in the long run.

17. Learning transcription in order to improve pronunciation and reading skills is not necessary, if not a waste of time. Phonics is a much more efficient and natural way to get even your youngest students to start reading properly.
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18. Speaking English is very similar to working out in a gym. You need to develop this skill by lots of practice and repetition. You do not think at all when you speak your mother tongue, sentences just flow out of your mouth without being double checked or structured. This is what you would want to achieve with your students. Thinking and speaking are two different skills that cannot go hand in hand with each other.

19. It’s not about learning grammar rules, it’s about understanding and applying them. There’s no use memorizing tons of words without a proper context and useful collocations. To improve your listening skills, you need to bring your pronunciation to a new level first. You cannot fully understand the sounds that you cannot make yourself.

20. Your English classes do not boil down to simply teaching your students English, it’s so much more than that. You are responsible for cultivating a bunch of other skills such as their attention span and self-control, respect to others and social intelligence, persistence and strong will. You have to encourage them to help each other, work hard, never give up, do their own research and express their thoughts. You’ve got to inspire them to explore other countries and cultures, to be tolerant to other nationalities and races and become a role model for them. At the end of the day, this all might be even more important than Present Perfect.