The computer won’t work, you’ll have lost your USB stick somewhere between getting on the plane in your home country and arriving at your placement, you’ll have one little trouble maker that makes the whole class impossible to control, you’ll feel nervous, unprepared and wonder what on earth you are doing here in the first place! Then suddenly everything will click into place, you’ll show them a picture of your dog and just like that you have their attention, you were born to do this, this is your calling!
Your first day at any new job is always going to be a challenge, it’s a whole new environment, but the trick is to take each lesson as it comes. All of these things did happen to me, but they happened in separate classes. All of these things did happen to me, but they weren’t the end of the world. Let things go wrong, so you know what to do next time.
Have no fear though, it’s not all disasters and misbehaving children. On your first day, and every day following, you will be greeted constantly with enthusiastic hellos, hugs and high-fives. If you are placed in a southern province then a picture of snow will leave each class gasping in amazement. Show them the Loch Ness Monster, sit back and enjoy their take on the Scottish myth in the medium of crayon and felt tip pen (if you’re lucky you may even be gifted some to decorate your bedroom wall with). If your favourite animal happens to be a Panda, get ready to have it shouted at you every time you play Pictionary, every circle is a Panda in their eyes! Most of all let yourself enjoy it, you only have get to experience your first day of teaching once.
We were lucky at our school, we got to pick what grade we wanted to teach. As a result, I am teaching 1st grade, which is nothing but endless fun, games and colouring. The good thing about 1st grade is they are aged between six and eight so as long as you are animated and lively enough they won’t even notice that you are nervous. Take all that nervous energy and turn it into enthusiasm!
If you are female, then you will be introduced as “The New Beautiful Foreign Teacher” in at least two of your classes which (if you are anywhere near as socially awkward as I am) will make you want to turn around and run out of the room! Especially when it is followed by forty small children giving you a round of applause.
In the end, you came to China because you wanted to teach. Whether that be to try it out as a possible career, as a way to earn money and travel at the same time or because you are passionate about working with children. Your first day might be a disaster or it might go smoother than you could have ever hoped for. Either way once it is out of the way it can only get easier from there. As the saying goes find a job you love and you will never have to work another day in your life!