Previously, Rachel Daw provided her top 5 tips for new teachers. She’s back with the second installment of her first month survival plan.
Some tips for surviving the first month (part two)
6. If you are asked to cover someone else’s class, they’ll quite often be happy if you do a different sort of lesson while they’re away. I recommend you use these opportunities to try out something new, like a video lesson or a fun idea with something functional like small talk. I tried out a video lesson I found on a blog when I covered for a colleague, and thankfully it went down a storm, so it’s now become part of my ’emergency lesson bank’ in case I’m needed for spontaneous cover lessons.
7. Always print the transcripts and answers to any worksheets you want to use, if they’re available and, regardless of whether there are answer sheets or not, always complete the questions yourself before your class. It’s the perfect way to anticipate any problems. Having the transcript and answers in class also prepares you well for any random question a student might ask!
8. Keep copies of good lessons and file them neatly into sections in a big lever arch file. I had a great time doing this about a month into my new job [as seen in the photo!]. It’s particularly useful to keep the copies you’ve doodled on during class, or written additional questions on – these are the most valuable additional notes for the next time you teach the same lesson.
9. Buy plastic wallets, folders or any other exciting new stationery item for separating your material for different lessons – in my first week team-teaching across multiple intensive course classes, I was utterly overwhelmed by paper!
10. Use a bookmark collection tool like Diigo to save and tag websites you find with good resources or ideas on them. You can use as many tags as you like and search across them, and it’s so helpful when you need a quick filler or news article.
11. Read ‘About Language’ by Scott Thornbury. Rather than simply telling you about language, as the name would suggest, it makes you think about it yourself, with lots of step-by-step guided discovery of grammar points to increase teachers’ awareness of the intricacies of the English language.
And, of course, we teach our students to ask questions if they are confused, so being a teacher is no different! If you are lucky, like I believe I have been, then you’ll have a central staff room where all the teachers prepare lessons, eat their lunch and of course, talk about their classes. This is the ideal place to ask for help and inspiration from more knowledgeable teachers and, in my experience, they’re only too happy to test their extensive knowledge of resources and ideas by helping you!
A version of this post previously appeared on Rachel’s own blog, Berlingo.