Visualize your first day entering into your classroom. Desks are neatly arranged, it’s quiet, and then the bell rings. Your new students begin to pile into your classroom and things change drastically.
Your students are chatting loudly, tossing paper balls back and forth, and glued to their phones. To you it looks like chaos and you have no idea how you’re going to get them focused on the task at hand.
I’ll show you how to avoid feeling overwhelmed on your first day by making good preparation, role-playing with other teachers, and taking in some meditative practices to calm your nerves.
Everything is going to be okay, because we all feel nervous on our first day!
Role-playing with other teachers
Do you know any teachers? If you do, you can see if they would be willing to do a role-playing exercise with you.
As corny as this may sound, it can actually be quite fun! Have one of you pretend to be the teacher and the other is the child.
Feel free to make this as ridiculous as you want and test those acting skills! You’d be surprised how effective role-playing can be to become a better teacher yourself.
After each scenario, have the teacher give feedback on how well you completed each task. This is important to help yourself improve.
Taking care of young children before you leave
Before you head abroad, get some experience working with children before you go off into the world of foreign teaching. You can start small by babysitting and trying to teach a lesson to the children you are watching over.
Other potential options are to volunteer at local events catered to children’s entertainment and getting advice from parents about what their methods are for teaching their children.
Perhaps the simplest thing you can do is to read self-improvement books like Practice Perfect on practiceperfectthebook.com or to read books on teaching advice.
Make reading a daily practice for you in order to allow yourself to grow as much as possible before you go. There are dozens of incredible books on topics such as teaching effectively, behavioral books, and general teaching advice from people who have years in the industry.
Taking a part-time voluntary job at a school back home
Before you run your own classroom abroad, see if it’s possible to volunteer part-time at a school back home. The teachers may be in need of some extra assistance and would appreciate the help from the community.
This will allow you to become more comfortable while in a room full of students, whether they’re young or old. It will also serve to begin developing the skills you need to call attention in a class, build lesson plans, and more.
In addition to part-time voluntary work, there is also the potential to become a substitute teacher. Often times all you need to become a sub is a Bachelor’s degree and the successful completion of a certification course.
Practice a lot
This is where some meditative practices can come in to help calm down your nerves and get you into a comfortable mind-set. Write down the worst that could happen and find a way to deal with it.
How would you react to a child screaming? What would you do if the children are only talking in Chinese or another language? What if you can’t get them pulled away from their cell-phones?
These are all very real and important questions to ask yourself. Write down the steps you would take to solve these issues and do some research to see what other teachers have to say about those potentials.
Teaching is one of the most rewarding things that you can do in your life and teaching abroad is so exciting! Take a few deep breaths, tell yourself that you’ll do wonderful (because you will), and prepare yourself.
Good preparation and a lot of practicing through role-playing and writing down your fears is the key to relieve you first day stress.