Standing in front of a classroom of fifth graders on my first day serving as a teaching assistant at an Elementary school in Torreledones, a suburb North of Madrid in Spain, I was hit smack in the face with a harsh realization -- I had no idea how to teach.
I had thought I would be prepared for this moment. After all, I had experience working with children at summer camps and led a university-sponsored tutoring program in my local community back home.
And yet, no experience short of classroom teaching will prepare you for classroom teaching. One of the common misconceptions about teaching is that it’s easy. Well, whoever said “those who can’t do, teach” clearly never stood in front of 30 ten-year-olds and tried to advance their education while simultaneously keeping their attention.
Teaching is challenging for a multitude of reasons. Crafting lesson plans that teach curriculum requirements in a clear and entertaining manner requires a wide breadth of knowledge about both content and student behavior. On top of this, classroom management, that is handling the number of students in the classroom and each individual’s unique personality and behavioral problems, is extremely difficult.
First-time teachers abroad have an added challenge -- not only do they need to learn the fundamentals of how to teach, they also need to do so in a culture that is foreign from their own.
Lucky for me, I found that the seasoned teachers at my Elementary school, as well as other teaching assistants participating on the Auxiliares de Conversation program, were eager to help by sharing helpful tips, lesson plan ideas or even just a listening ear.
My colleagues and friends helped me navigate my first year teaching abroad with success. I want to do the same and give you what help I can, so here are five lesson plan ideas for first-time teachers abroad.