At Chungdahm Learning, Week 1 is where all the magic happens. As a teacher you will know that those first moments are imperative for setting the tone for the rest of the semester. First impressions and introductions go a long way with regards to student management and an active learning environment. The way you handle your students and their behavior on the first day, will go a long way to making your classroom a happy learning environment and your time teaching in Korea a memorable one.
As an experienced teacher this is something I learned over time through trial and error along with a lot of patience. Personally, I developed as a teacher by learning from veteran teachers and listening to a lot of positive and critical feedback. Keeping an open-mind is the only way to grow as a teacher and to remember that there is always room for growth.
Also, utilizing various materials and finding creative methodologies will increase learning management in your classroom. As an ESL teacher you are constantly put on the spot and need to adjust with enthusiasm. Thus, continued research and growth as a teacher is imperative. Here is how to make your first week teaching abroad run with a little less bumps and a few more steps towards being the teacher you want to be.
Prepare Classroom Rules
A lot of first year teachers struggle with classroom management. Personally, my first year of teaching I found it challenging to be an authority figure in the classroom. I didn't want to be too strict or be disliked. But, I learned over time that being the teacher means "you have to steer the ship" and this meant being the adult too. I found that students responded better to an authority figure in the classroom and that by acting like the classroom 'leader' - majority of students seemed to follow my directions better.
With this being said, preparing classroom rules that are fair and unique to your personality makes it easier to handle disorderly students. As long as a teacher's rules are well-balanced and distributed equally to all students (regardless of favoritism), young children and adults will respond better to the consequences. Since, they are a normal occurrence in your classroom.
Coupled with a strong teachers presence in Week 1 of teaching. That first day you enter the classroom you need to be serious about your rules, your professionalism and present the kind of teacher you are. It is imperative that you address issues as they happen and show that you mean business.
But, remember to find a balance between friendly teacher and strict teacher. You can be smiley and happy, then address an issue, and go back to being smiley and happy again. For me, this strategy works best in my classroom because, I will not shout or get angry, but rather be stern and make a student tell me what they did wrong and what the consequence are for it. Then I will go back to my usual friendly voice.
Be over-prepped for Week 1. Let the students see a teacher who puts in extra effort and beyond. Remember that adolescents mimic our behavior, and if we as teachers present a well-organized and thoroughly prepped class, it is more likely that your students will try harder and respect the environment.
In addition, think about what materials you would like to have in your classroom for the students to use. A classroom that is more presentable and decorated will make students want to enter it. They will also want to spend more time in your classroom if they feel happy and comfortable there.
You could spice up your classroom with colorful board makers, magnets, stationary, colored pencils, fun toys, posters and books. You could also decorate according to holidays like Halloween, Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Have a Reward System
Students respond really well to praise of their progression and achievements in your classroom. However you choose to reward your students is up to you, but you should setup a fair system that students will love and be engaged in.
A reward system helps motivate all kinds of learners. Remember to make it flexible so it can recognize students who may not be brilliant in some areas but are trying really hard at others. As a teacher, we need to be attentive and try to help all learners feel like they can accomplish their goals.
At Chungdahm Learning teachers have various reward systems like tablet badges (you can create them on the CDL app), sticker charts,Class Dojo (a reward app), Week 13 snack parties (if your academy allows it), a 3 minute video of your choice, Week 13 prizes to top students, and participation dollars (students can buy a snack at the store or a prize the teacher is offering).
Be creative and look up ways to make your classroom and teaching style speak "you". This will go along way with student and learning management skills. Moreover, you will leave a lasting impression on students and make your time together memorable.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on teaching in Korea!