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Teaching Your First Lesson: Tips for New Teachers

You only get to teach your first lesson once! Make sure to make it count. Read below on how to ace your first class and make wonderful impression on your students. See all of the tips in the video below

A solid first lesson is easy to pull off if you have the right strategy

Hello teachers! I am one of the trainers at The Language House TEFL. What we do is pretty simple: The Language House in Prague teaches new teachers to be confident in the classroom. This includes 4 weeks of intense teacher training, followed by job support and networking assistance. In my career, I’ve probably helped about 3000 new teachers with their first lessons. These were trainees who had absolutely no teaching experience at all. Here are my tips for success. If you are a new English teacher, or wish to be one in the future, check us out. I’ve got a nice little video below that covers everything.

Know your students and your classroom

before you step foot into the classroom, try to learn as much as you can about your students. How many of them will there be? What are their approximate ages? Are they mostly male, female or an equal mix? Is the class one nationality or a mix of different nationalities? Finally, what are their expectations? What do they expect of you as a teacher? 
Got that? Good! Now find out about your classroom.
Each classroom is going to have some unique qualities. The last thing you want to do is walk into a classroom blind without knowing what to expect. Get the details beforehand and give it a look. Once you see the classroom, think a bit about the arrangement and what you can do to personalize the space. Obviously, this might be impossible for some situations (you are sharing the room with another teacher), but whatever you can do to make the space more personalized/unique, do it!

Plan an engaging lesson

It’s easy to botch your first lesson and make it dull. Don’t fall into the trap of creating a boring hour of you lecturing your students to sleep while you all pray for it to end as fast as possible. Instead, plan out what you want to do in advance and incorporate a variety of activities that include group/pair work.
Give yourself enough time to get all of your materials prepared. Also, use materials that serve no other purpose but to make the lesson fun. If you have media, props and pictures that you can bring in, great. The idea is to make your first lesson memorable. 
In terms of content, stick to material/language points that you are comfortable with. It is usually better to underestimate your class than to overestimate them. This being said, don’t go into your class without some solid materials that you can teach and they can learn from. 

Now practice… and then practice again

New teachers will spend hours just looking at their lesson plan. This. Doesn’t. Help. It will only stress you out and make you second guess everything you have prepared. Instead, get up (preferably in a classroom) and practice your lesson. Practice all of the different parts and skills you’ll need to be successful. In the video above, I cover all of these things along with some strategies on how to make it possible. 

OMG you’re teaching! Watch out for these things

Now you are in the thick of it all and you’ve got a whole bunch of eyes on you. This is a surreal experience for all new teachers, and that’s really easy to understand. Most of our lives, we spend our time as students. Now, you’re the one up in front of the class. 
A few points to look out for are the following.

  • Greet students when the come in
  • Pass out name tags (they are easy to make)
  • Have all of your materials organized
  • Keep your TTT low
  • Work on your volume
  • Use big gestures
  • Monitor and error correct
  • Avoid long stretches of lecturing (use a lot of group/pair work)
  • Have a glass of water or something to drink
  • Elicit and concept check as much as possible
  • Keep track of time
  • Exit gracefully (end your lesson at a specific point that is planned with a ‘have a nice day’ or something like that)

As mentioned earlier, it’s a great idea to run through your lesson a few times with a friend or colleague. There is so much you can learn by actually practicing your content (from start to finish) in advance. 
Lastly… HAVE FUN! Teaching your first lesson is exciting. You’ll do great. If for whatever reason things don’t go exactly as planned, you always have the next lesson to learn and improve. 

Extra resources

If you’re new to teaching and feeling a little bit lost, head on over to my YouTube channel for some other methodology videos.