Advice for First-Time Teachers Don?t be afraid. Don?t expect

Don't be afraid. Don't expect perfection. Stay positive. Be creative. Be organized, and be on time! I have heard a wealth of advice for first-time teachers. Most of it is pretty much the same thing in different words, but that's exactly all they are'words! Yet these are the words that must become practice, practice must become instinct, and instinct must become authority.

I am basically a first-time teacher. I have taught Sunday School classes for 10 years, but that's the limit of my teaching experience. My confidence level in my English teaching ability isn't very high yet. Writing an article to increase my own confidence seemed like the next best step for pushing myself up to the starting line and bounding forward with some semblance of enthusiasm and grace.

I'm sure you can understand what I mean when I say I don't feel ready. Who really does' If you've never taught before, your first day will probably be the scariest of all. My parents were both teachers and can attest to this. Suddenly, you're the center of attention and must lead everyone into a blissful knowledge of something that you should know everything about'but you really don't! How could you' Having knowledge of a subject and being able to teach it are two different things. Just as learning the material was a process, so is understanding the best way to teach it. You won't do it 100% right on the first day, but you don't have to be an expert overnight. Take a deep breath and give yourself permission to fail. The most important thing you can do on your first day of teaching is show up and smile!

To complicate issues, in this ESOL classroom, you will try to teach a roomful of people how to speak an entirely new language without using their own! To say the least, teaching itself is a difficult task, but even more so when the language is a barrier. So the next more important thing you can do is to prepare for every eventual outcome. That seems to me to be the only foundation of confidence that I could have. If you need any more confidence, just 'fake it until you make it,' and go from there'

So when I walk into the classroom, I will have my own new set of rules, the ones that my parents, in their almost 60 combined years of teaching experience, have passed on to me. They have seen what it is like to teach both from the chalkboard in front of students to the observing administrator during teacher evaluation. They've taught countless grades and subjects, experienced the complete range of day to day emotions and trouble students, as well as seen a lot of people grow up before their eyes. I would be beside myself without their wisdom and encouragement to do the one thing I have always known I was meant to do. Therefore, these are the top five priorities I have chosen for my own teaching career.

1.Smile. Attitude is everything. As Melissa Kelly writes, 'The ingredients for success include the following: sense of fairness, consistent approach, ability to be flexible, positive attitude, high expectations for yourself and your students, sense of humor' (11). All of this begins with a smile!

2.Be prepared. Have as much material ready for each class as you possibly can. Know as much as possible about each topic covered. Be ready for every possibility for student interaction.

3.Get to know your students. Learn every student's name and use it in class every day. Learn their interests, backgrounds, goals, and dreams. The more you understand them, the easier it will be to help them.

4.Keep experienced teachers close by. They've made plenty of mistakes and learned from them; use them as a resource so you don't have to make the same mistakes! There's a wealth of information just waiting in every seasoned teacher.

5.Have fun. This isn't meant to wear you or the students out. Teaching can be fun for everyone involved, if you let it. The choice is yours!


1 ' My Parents, Robert Wyman and Cathy Chipolone-Wyman

2 ' Anonymous quotes from

3 ' Kelly, Melissa. The Everything New Teacher Book: Increase Your Confidence, Connect with Your Students, and Deal with the Unexpected. Avon, Massachusetts: Adams Media, '2004.