“Is this your first year as a teacher?”
There are only a few possible answers when a student asks this dreaded question. All of them are wrong. You can tell the truth, thus opening the door to the tests students save for new teachers. You can mumble some vague answer that makes your training program or summer as a camp counselor seem like teaching experience. The best bad response is often a question that changes the subject, like, “Are you working on your math problems?” Then, walk to your desk and shuffle papers until the moment passes.
No matter what your answer, however, the question above can leave you paranoid and wondering how students picked up on your rookie status so quickly.
Part of the secret is that no matter how prepared you are, some aspects of teaching develop with experience. The list below explains these — with a few tips thrown in for faking it in the meantime.
Confidence. It’s hard to feel self-assured as a beginner, and nothing messes with your confidence like someone telling you to “Be confident!” Luckily, there are some concrete things you can do to give yourself a psychological edge. Get to school before your students. Have materials laid out in advance when possible. Keep your cell phone silent, your private life private, and your language school-appropriate. These actions show you mean it when you say class time is for class activities.
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