Top 10 Do’s And Dont’s For The New School Year

nailbiting.jpgSeptember is known around the world, or at least around the northern hemisphere, as the start of the new school year. I usually get that “something smells school-y in the air” feeling when this month rolls around. I also routinely get the new school year jitters. I can’t say I’m an expert at getting rid of these jitters completely, but I do have my bag of do’s and dont’s for the new school year:

10. Do imagine your students naked. Or better, for a couple of reasons, just in some ridiculously inappropriate attire. If you’re lucky, they might help you out by coming to class already looking silly.

9. Don’t let your nervousness show. It may not feel natural to fake it, because…faking it is by its nature unnatural, but confidence and lack of it is catching. Think of the last time you listened to a speaker who was obviously nervous: you probably felt awkward too. Make your students react and they’ll respond to you in kind.

8. Do prepare. This is of course hardest when you’ve never met the group before. Bring a variety of activities that can fit a variety of levels so that however it turns out a) you’ve got something to fill the time and b) you’ll have something they can actually do no matter what.

7. Don’t be teacher-centered. Get the students speaking, especially with a pair or in small groups. This takes the pressure off you – you can still read out the class rules or whatever at the end – and frees you up to listen and gauge what the students can do, which is essential in the first class.

6. Do plan something fun, but don’t hesitate to do something more traditionally “English class” too…my opinion is that while you don’t have to start ticking off items on the syllabus, many students just feel more satisfied when they do something they recognize as a regular class activity (meaning a whole class of free speaking may not be what they envision). And the pragmatic fact is, having happy campers in the first class generally makes you a happy camper too.

5. Do have a swig of whiskey or your drink of choice beforehand…

Okay, don’t really do that, it will probably in fact make you more likely to make a fool out of yourself. Have a coffee, smoke a cigarette, or indulge in some other small way instead.

4. Do get your students to help you with something, the more genuine the better. It could be a recommendation for their favorite place in the city, weekend trip, or restaurant. It creates a nice dynamic and, I think, shows you recognize you are not the only one with expertise to offer.

3. If you do something with names, do make sure to get them to try to remember them all too! I do make an effort to do this, and some students roll their eyes like it’s silly, but I can’t believe how many students don’t know each others names.

2. Don’t forget that the first class is only one class. Sure, first impressions are important, but you’ve got at least a few more to make t€hem see that you’re okay (or conversely of course…that you’re not okay…don’t worry, that won’t happen!). They don’t need to love you like a long-lost sibling, but especially in a language school context, it is important for them to feel their time is well spent.

1. Do tell a joke.