It’s September 1st and in China, as in many places around the world, it’s the first day of school! The first day is just as difficult for the teacher as it is for the students. To be honest, it may even be a little more difficult. Sure, you want your students to like you, but you also want to be a good and effective teacher throughout the year and ensure they get the best education they can.
Here are five tips that should set you off on the right foot:
1: Ground Rules
Decide on a list of ground rules. Nothing too long; I would suggest about roughly five at the most. You want the rules to be what sets the expectations you have on classroom behaviour. For example: No running in class. One speaker at a time, Be kind to one another, etc. Create a poster that presents the rules and display it in front of the class where everyone can see it. Explain the rules one by one to the class.
Create a reward system that encourages the students to participate and behave like the class you’ve dreamt about your whole life. Perhaps it’s a sticker system on a poster (this is highly effective for younger learners) or perhaps it’s the students’ choice of what activity to play on Fridays. It’s entirely up to you but it’s important to have the methods worked out right on that first day. Both adults and students love a reward system, so it’s always beneficial.
3: English Names
When teaching in a foreign land, some, but not all, of you students will have English names. Assign each student an English name. Try to choose an English name that sounds like their proper name. Many students will either have one already or be able to choose their own, usually based on a sports hero or famous singer of their liking. Record their English names and play some name/game activities to help you, and the students, remember everyone’s English names. It’s a lot of fun and can usually consume a large chunk of the first day!
4: Be familiar with the Material
Many schools have their own curriculum for you to follow while teaching. Be sure to go through it (at least the first few chapters) before your first day. This will help familiarise you when it comes to lesson planning. Knowing the goal, style, and materials beforehand will guarantee you have the most well-prepared lessons you can. The students, even younger learners, can tell how much time and energy you have put into lesson planning, so be prepared!
5: English Only
Create an English only atmosphere within your classroom. This will set the expectation right away that it is a room for speaking English and a serious class. You can mix this up with Tip #2 (Rewards). Perhaps students lose a reward if they speak their native language in the classroom. With anything, context is everything. Sometimes the student will have to speak the native language because they don’t yet know how to convey what they want to say in English and it may be important, so use your judgment. A good idea is to make an “English Only” sign as a reminder to the students but leave it at that or else you risk coming off as rude. For example: “English Only” is appropriate, but “English Only… NO CHINESE!!!” could easily offend some, and potentially the school you work for.
Try this tricks-of-the-trade out and your first day will definitely leave an impression for the whole year. Happy teaching!