My name is Katie and I’m terrified of teaching.
I’ve worked at i-to-i for nearly four years and I’ve taught English in Uganda and Kenya, plus a little in Honduras too, and every time I hear someone say that they’re terrified of teaching, I can honestly say that I’ve been there too. The reality of standing up in front of up to 45 children for the first time, all staring in silence at you is NOT for the faint-hearted… and to think that you put yourself there voluntarily, no one made you do this – well, that’s just crazy! However…
Do remember that the first day/week/month in any job is a whirlwind and a big old blur? If you’re like me, silences drive you mad and make you uncomfortable, so you fill the silence with babble; babbling away like this in a classroom when you’re trying to fathom how much English the children speak is not recommended.
Top tips for terrified teachers:
Relaaaaaaaaaax! – They’re children and they’re not judging you, generally the children I’ve met have respect for the teacher and demonstrate this through silence. And if you’re teaching adults – well, they’re there to learn the language, they’re all mature and will be understanding that it’s your first time.
Don’t throw yourself out of the window – If you don’t feel you’ve accomplished anything in your first day/week/month. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, don’t forget that. Embrace it, enjoy it and don’t sweat (although if you’re in Thailand you might sweat – embrace it!)
Preparation is key – You cannot just walk in to a classroom and hope for the best – or rather you should not. Trust me, I’ve done it and it wasn’t pretty. As you build up more experience, it becomes easier for sure, but do yourself a favour and prepare.
Have fun and get creative – In a lot of classrooms around the world there is a huge lack of creativity with lessons, plenty of teachers get their students to copy text from a board and the cleverest in the classroom is copied from. Plan tasks where everyone has a different objective based around the same task e.g. one that worked for me was giving each child in the class a different letter of the alphabet to draw pictures of things beginning with that letter and make it in to a story – it’s pretty tough to copy from each other on that one…
One of the things I’ve been asked is how do you get in the classroom and get into a routine to enjoy your teaching; but it really does come down to you as you settle into it.
It’s like any job where the first few weeks feel alien and you have no idea how you’ll ever build a routine and get a hang of the job… then one day, cheesy as it sounds, it clicks, and you bond with your students, you have fun teaching them and you can’t remember what life was like before you were a teacher.
Remember when your days used to be mundane, same shift different day, unfulfilling and generally dull? Well, life changes! Enjoy it while you have it, it might soon be a distant memory.
Tell me about your plans, your memories, your worries and your lessons that went well if you’re already teaching! Sharing is good, as I’m sure all terrified teachers would agree!