Whether you’re doing an online TEFL course or an in-person course, staying organized should be one of your top priorities during this time. Without good organizational skills, by the time you are in the core part of your course, you’ll feel utterly overwhelmed. A lot happens during your TEFL training and in order to get the most out of it without feeling crazy by the end, keeping good track of things is crucial. I know because I’ve been there.
If you start your course out organized and maintain it throughout, then you’ll be fine by the end of the course. As a matter of fact, you can get organized after the start of your course, it will just take a little more time. Staying organized during your course won’t only help you throughout your certification process, but will also help after. Organizational skills are necessary as a TEFL teacher. Without them, everyday life would be hectic. You’ll have a million things to keep track of: lesson plans, tests and essays to grade, attendance to keep track of, and more. You’ll need to be on top of things or else teaching will be a very hard profession. Here are some tips on how to stay organized during your course.
Do it from Day 1
First of all, start your course with the right mindset. Doing this will set the scene for the entirety of your course. Commit to yourself that you’ll do your best and doing your best means staying organized. Set up your calendar with all of the important dates in your course. If you’re doing an online course, set up a filing system on your computer. Set up email folders. If you’re taking an in-person course, buy a number of folders and label them appropriately (lesson plans, grammar exercises, listening, speaking, etc). Get yourself a notebook. Another thing that helps me stay organized is having different colored pens and highlighters. Do all of this prior to day 1 of your course or during the first week.
Have a Good Filing System
As I just mentioned, be sure to set up a filing system either on your computer, manually, or both ways. Create a separate inbox in your email for everything related to your course. Buy a few folders ( I usually buy different colors so I can distinctly see the difference) to keep any print-outs from your course. Eventually, you’ll want to keep resumes and interview materials in one. This will make your life ten times easier. Knowing where everything is will keep you organized. By creating an orderly filing system, you won’t be frantically looking for a worksheet you need in order to study for an exam the next day. Also, save everything! It will all come in handy at some point down the line.
Create Your Workspace
For me, this is a crucial thing in order to remain organized. This is slightly more important if you are enrolled in an online course, but still remains important for people in in-person courses. Establish a place in your home where you can work efficiently. The area should be quiet, there should be space to spread out your materials and space for you to keep your folders and other materials handy. It’s important that you have a strong wifi or Internet connection in this area (esp. for online course-ers).
Manage Your Time Wisely
Time management is key. This is especially important for those of you who are taking an online course because, in a sense, you are your own instructor. It is entirely up to you to finish things in a timely matter. However, even for people doing an in-person course, time management is something that can help you stay organized. Get yourself a big calendar and write out when you’re assignments are due, when your tests are, when your practicum teaching must be completed by, etc. After that, you can backtrack and set appropriate times to work in those things. Once the times are set, it is up to you to keep on track. By doing this, you’ll feel in control and your study time, homework time and class time will all be organized well.
Ask Questions When You Are Confused
Face it: You are going to have a ton of information coming your way when you are in your course. You’ll be given deadlines, exam dates, project instructions and pure knowledge. At some point, you may feel overwhelmed by all of this and that’s okay. In fact, if you don’t feel a little overwhelmed, that would be strange. So, when you get confused about something: ASK! Ask someone who knows the answer. This may be harder for those of you enrolled in an online course because you don’t have one point person. However, most online courses have a customer service live chat or email address that you can contact with any questions you may have. By asking and clarifying, you’ll keep your mind sharp and will be able to stay better organized. When you’re confused about things, it’s easy to feel disconnected and scatterbrained. When you feel scatterbrained, it’s easy to lose things, forget about something or neglect to add something to your calendar.
So, to rehash, being organized is absolutely related to the success of your course, and eventually, will add to the success of your teaching career. By mastering these skills, your life will be less hectic and more productive. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start practicing these skills today in your everyday life. It will give you peace of mind and will make you a better TEFL teacher.
Any questions? Leave a comment here!