I had never thought that I would have a career in education or live abroad or develop a school or any of these things growing up. You never know what opportunities will come your way if you make the effort, take chances and most of all try and be an expert in your field.
This is all beginning to sound really hacky so let's plow ahead. Here are some tips for your first year teaching abroad.
Learn as much as you Possibly can
* The idea that proficiency in teaching or anything really is based on time and experience is nonsense. I've graduated teachers with zero prior experience that left the course amazing and better than the majority of language teachers out there. It's not about experience. It's about talent and working hard on improving. Make that effort to get better and to learn as much as you can and you'll be better than a lot of teachers out there.
Keep your Lesson Plans
*Reuse them. You'll save a lot of time.
Learn how to Adapt and Modify Material
*Again, it saves time. Learn how to change a 45 min lesson into a 2 hour lesson. Or, how to change a lesson for pre-intermediates to a lesson for advanced students.
Share Lesson Plans and Learn from Others
* A lot of my versatility in the classroom came from watching other teachers. Find out who the best teachers in your school are and watch them. You'll learn a lot.
Learn how to use a Textbook
* Again, it saves time. Adapt, modify, expand... Textbooks on their own are some of the most boring creations of mankind. Make the stuff interesting!
Explain Methodology Briefly
* Most of my students have no idea about TEFL methodology or why we do the things we do. A little explanation to your students about TTT/STT, CCQ's... etc., will help them understand why you are doing certain things.
Be Visible at your School
* If you are around, you will be offered more work and more responsibility.
Seek Advice from Experience Teachers and help new ones
* Kind of like the other one above. You can learn a lot from other people.
Use the Internet
* Easy to understand. There's a lot of great resources out there. Use them.
* You may not get a book deal or anything, but post stuff online. There are tons of people interested in what it's like to live and teach abroad. Post these things. I'm sure people will read it and you might make a name for yourself.
Change your Schedule
* When you first start teaching you will usually be given a bad schedule. Try and change it after your first semester or year. Go for blocks of classes and have your hours concentrated. Nothing is worse than having your classes spread out over the morning and night. It will feel like you are always working.
Get Feedback from Students
* Have them fill out a private form with a grade for you. It will help you work on what's wrong and give you some more confidence if you are doing a good job. You can also use these evaluations to get a pay raise.
Push a Career
* The DELTA and Trinity DIPLOMA are both good 8 week intense or 6 month low intensity courses. Not too overpriced and will help get you better jobs. Also you can make your own path by creating your own school or being self employed as a freelance teacher. These things don't come easy and most people do not have what it takes to set something up that's successful, but anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Don’t be afraid of your Experience
* Once again, the biggest mistruth in education is that years in the field and qualifications matter more than anything else. Yes they do matter, but talent and hard work trumps both of these things. Don't be afraid that this is new to you. Just work on getting better. Try and develop a deep understanding of what you are doing. Look at teaching as being a set of different skills and work on trying to master them. You'll be better in year then most people are in their lives if you take this approach.
Don’t Upset your DOS
* Director of Studies. Yeah why do that?
Quit if you want, but do it Professionally
*If you are unhappy with the job, give them some notice. If you have to leave early or cancel your contract, give them some notice. 1-2 months is fine.
Inform School about Absences
* That wedding that's coming up... tell them a month or more in advance and it won't be a problem.
Don’t Tell your Students that this is your First Class
* Doctors, don't tell your patience that you have never performed the operation before...Pilots, don't tell your passengers that this is your first time going over the Atlantic. You are going to scare the bejesus out of your students. Just focus on being good. If they ask, tell the truth though.
Create Goals and Realize them!
* What do you want out of this experience. Do you want to learn the language, write that book you always dreamed of...Start working on it now. Time will move fast.
Ask for a Raise if you think you Deserve it
* Nothing makes a school cringe more than paying you more money. You are going to need to be a bit (A bit) pushy. If you are getting great feedback and have full classes with students signing up again to have you, ask for a raise.
Find out about Mobility
* Do teachers move up the TEFL ladder at your school? Are they being paid more? You want to work at a school where you can grow as a teacher and grow in your career.
Stay in Contact with your Students
* These people are your friends and if you've done a good job they have a lot of respect for you. They will help you. Don't feel as if you can't remain friends with your students after the course/class/semester.
Keep in Contact with Us
* At TLH TEFL we are all about community. I don't know what other courses are like, but you should feel comfortable contacting your TEFL provider and asking for help or advice if you need it.