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First Impressions Last


"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

A lot of teachers will be starting a new school assignment at the end of August, or early in September. So, how to leave a positive, lasting impression on the first day so that the learners and co-workers will look forward to seeing you again next time? Let's see...

Preparedness: How well-prepared will you be for day one? Have you rehearsed your self-introduction, and have several Plan Bs and Cs? How about a checklist of all the things you plan to present? How about a list of anticipated problems? There's no such thing as being over-prepared. Be mindful that the less material and technology you need to utilize, the easier it will be for yourself and the schools.

Classroom Management: It may be the first time for some teachers to teach a class of 30-40 learners. Can you gain the attention of every single one of them? Remember, you're not glued to the teacher's desk or the front of the board all the time. Move around and keep a 'presence' all over the room. It not only keeps private chit-chat at bay, but can also take away some nervousness.

Visual Aid: In 99% of cases, learners will not understand what you are 'babbling' on about, even at slow-speed English. Some might not even comprehend what you're writing on the board. Visual aid like flashcards, diagrams, posters, and pictures go a long way in helping them understand your presentation better. Make sure the visual aid are visible enough for those at the back of the room.

Communication: Always include a question time at the of of your self-introduction. Get your Japanese ability up to scratch to be able to understand the questions being asked. Encourage questions in English, and always reply in English. Once they know you speak Japanese, the 'magic' will be gone. Communication extends far beyond the classroom. You are also working with other native and Japanese teachers, so be sure to keep a good rapport with them.

Proactivity: Get to the school nice and early, greet as many staff as possible, share your self introduction ideas with other teachers (and take any feedback they may offer). In the first couple of weeks this is where you need to shine, show that you are a team-player, and willing to take advice from your co-workers for the benefit of the learners. Overall, demonstrate that you are flexible, and are there to make the learners enjoy English classes.

These pointers are just the tip of the iceberg. Think about other things you need to be mindful of when stepping into school next semester. Some questions to get you started:

-What do I want someone to remember about me?

-How do I want to be perceived?

-How can I create the right first impression?

Good luck!

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