Dear Elena, I know how worried you are this August because you are a university graduate now and in just a few days you will set off on a long journey into ELT.

I also remember how you cried when your mum insisted on your becoming a teacher and you wanted to major in interior design. Well, if it makes you feel better, I'll tell you a secret: you will love your job! There are a few more things you should know about teaching before you meet your first students in September.

  1. Don't pretend to be someone you are not. You might hear something of this sort from seasoned teachers: "Don't smile at your students for a few months. Get them to respect you first." I'm not sure about the respect part but you sure will not inspire one single soul in your class if you follow this advice. Follow your instincts, be yourself, smile and laugh with your kids; make yourself available to your students during the breaks; talk to them; listen to them; be kind and show that you care; be supportive but don't spoon-feed; guide them but don't overprotect, and you will see how inspirational and rewarding 40 minutes with a bunch of noisy, egoistic, moody teenagers can be!
  2. Don't try to be their friend... because you are not. But you are very welcome to become their favorite teacher, a good mentor, a coach, a role-model or even all of these.
  3. Remember to be careful about what you say or do. What seems insignificant to you may make a huge difference (good or bad) to someone in your class.
  4. Be organized and consistent. Yes, I know it is hard to be an adult among high school teens when you are just 22 but consistency in your expectations and self-discipline will help avoid double standards when you handle various classroom management issues. You will also find out that setting rules and sticking to them makes students' life easier, too. Strange as it may sound, first they try to break every single rule but then - grow to appreciate the framework in your lessons.
  5. Challenge them, challenge yourself. Don't be afraid to demand high, to stretch your learners to the maximum of their potential, to raise your expectations. It's not easy to do when you are a fresh graduate, but don't just turn pages in the coursebook religiously following lesson plans in the Teacher's Book. It feels safer but thinking "outside the book" will develop you professionally. It will set you and your learners free and unlock the potential that you cannot yet imagine.

There is so much I would like to tell you but, then, wouldn't I deprive you of the joy of discovery, adventure and the excitement of the unknown? So, plunge in!

Love, Elena

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