teaching tips

How To Prepare To Teach Your First Class

Teaching is scary. I thought that I was going to pass out in front of my class the first day I taught, but I didn't. I swear! Below are some things I learned on my first day. 1. Do your reading. It seems obvious, but we all know that doesn't always happen. Try to stay at least 1 day ahead of your students. If possible, two days. If not, it's okay. Every other teacher feels your pain. Just make sure you know what you are talking about. Students are like dogs: they can smell BS. So don't BS them. Be honest. Do your readings. It's just nice.

2. Remember. Remember what it was like when you were an undergraduate? What were some things you liked? Some things you didn't? For me, I liked free writing exercises, occasional group work (as long as it didn't count grade-wise because the 3 other people in the group don't do anything...) and movie day. Who doesn't love movie day? Try to prepare a class that you would want to attend. I'm bringing breakfast bars because I remember the eating habits of 18-year-old me and let's just say that I would have died without a breakfast bar.

3. Note it. Take notes when preparing a reading, book, or lesson. It'll keep you on track and help remind you what you read. If it helps, you can even print out a little sheet of what you are going to talk about each day of class.

4. Don't panic. This should be number one. Don't panic! I repeat: DON'T PANIC. I promise, (kind of) that you aren't going to do any of the following:

  • Throw up in front of your students.
  • Forget what an ellipses is.
  • End up having to teach History instead of English.
  • Lose your books before you have to teach. Really...you won't.
  • Be expected to remember EVERY NAME on the FIRST DAY.
  • Be expected to remember EVERY NAME in the FIRST WEEK.

5. You might look stupid occasionally, you might not remember the author of that one book you wanted to talk about, and you might forget the name of the girl who sits in the front row, but it's okay!

6. Breathe. 

7. Ask questions. Like any good student, a good teacher will also ask questions. If you feel uncomfortable about something, run it by a colleague or a professor. It can't hurt.

8. Pay Attention. If a student is asking for help, please give it to them...then ask yourself, "Is it wrong to buy a chicken burrito and not work out because you performed like a Olympian in class?" The answer is no, it's never wrong.

9. Treat yoself day. At least that's what I'm planning on doing. But I'm also a self-indulgent aHole. Just kidding. But really...after my first day of teaching, I'm going to eat a freakin' ice cream cone. That's right. Gimmie that chocolate covered chocolate covered in chocolate.