Overcoming Nerves in the Classroom

Taking up your first post teaching English abroad can be a daunting experience (yep, I admitted it!).  Whether you’re fresh out of school, recently graduated or looking for a career change, making that first leap from home comforts into the unknown is bound to have you questioning yourself at some point.

So, here are some useful tricks and tips for overcoming nerves in the classroom, making sure you SMASH that first lesson.


There might be 30 of them and 1 of you but who is the scary looking one? YOU, you’re the ‘new one’.  So, when you’re standing outside that classroom door for the first time, deep breath, walk in calmly but confidently and flash those students your pearly whites.

Plan, plan and plan some more

Not knowing what to do on your first lesson would be a grim state of affairs to find yourself in.  Luckily for you, hot off the press, is our free Volunteer Teacher’s Toolkit, packed with loads of advice, lesson plans and activities to ensure that your first lesson (and every lesson after that!) is a walk in the park.  It might be called a Volunteer pack, but it has such great resources for all sorts of teachers that it was too good to keep to ourselves.

Have you thought what you will do in your first lesson?  It could be an easy introductory class, taking the time getting to know all of your students and something little about them.  It’s always useful to have a few activities up your sleeve in case things don’t turn out exactly as planned, so make sure to have a read of our free pack!

Dress the part, be the part

In a lot of countries, dressing appropriately is very important.  Students will respect their teacher if they look like a teacher.  Simple.  You might also find that dressing up for the occasion will make you feel more confident about taking up your new position, put you in the right mind set and all that jazz.

Start as you mean to go on

So how do you get your students to like you?  We all know how it goes..

Too strict: students are scared, won’t talk to you, but will respect you

Too friendly: students feel comfortable (too comfortable), they like you but have no respect for you.

It’s all about a happy medium – keeping in control is important but you don’t want to frighten them!  At the beginning of your class outline a few rules, write them on the board or keep them visible somewhere in the classroom, and stick to them!

This will not only provide your students with a structure, but you too. Having some kind of routine will no doubt make you feel more confident in the classroom.

Talk to other TEFL teachers

You know the phrase, sharing is caring. Everyone is human after all, so if you’re feeling a bit nervous, don’t be afraid to say it. If you get out there and want to jump on the first plane back again:

a) Don’t do anything drastic

b) Hook yourself up with some internet and keep active on our Chalkboard (there are over 20,000 TEFLers on there who will be happy to offer you any advice!); and it’s also a way for your friends and family back home to see what you’re getting up to

c) Get out there and explore!  Source out an expat crowd to chat about home comforts – there’s no shame in it.

Ready to get out there and be the best teacher you can be?! Go for it!

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