New to Online English Teaching? How to Handle First-Day Nerves

By Bridge
July 28, 2020

The first day for new teachers is a day full of mixed emotions: excitement, happiness, and, of course, nerves! While this usually applies to educators about to walk inside brick-and-mortar classrooms and meet their students face-to-face for the first time, what if you’re an online English teacherSince it’s a completely different setup and interactions are limited to video, how can you successfully get through your first lesson and teach your very first online student? Here are some tips to help you get rid of those nerves and hold your first online teaching lesson with confidence! 

1. Eat well and sleep well

To feel your best on your first day, make sure you get enough sleep and have a good breakfast. Studies show that getting enough sleep supports cognitive brain functions such as concentration, productivity, and performance. Making sure that you have slept 7 or 8 hours the night before will help you focus and feel energized throughout the day. 

Additionally, starting your day with a nutritious and filling meal will not only jumpstart your metabolism but also boost your brainpower. Nutritionists recommend eating foods high in carbohydrates such as bread, and lean proteins such as eggs for a balanced breakfast. Start your day right and get the confidence boost that you need to face your students with a smile!

2. Dress well

What you wear to your first online lesson may seem like a small thing, but the way you dress will affect the way you think, feel, act, and even how others perceive you. However, as you teach EFL online from the comfort of your home, you don’t necessarily need to wear formal clothes from head to toe. Just choose something that makes you look and feel professional. Make sure that you’re also comfortable in what you wear. Lastly, but most importantly, take note of your teaching platform’s dress code policies and stick to them. For top English learning platforms, like 51Talk, online teaching standards include not only an excellent command of English but also decency and professionalism.

3. Hype yourself up!

Did you know that the chemical our body releases when we feel fear or excitement is the same? This means that our body’s biological reactions to events are the same, but our mind perceives the feeling differently. Considering this, remembering that it’s all in the mind can help you turn that nervousness into excitement.

On your first day, how about doing an activity that gets you pumped up? For example, you can cook your favorite breakfast, drink a good cup of coffee, exercise, dance, or play your favorite tunes as you get ready for your online English lesson. Do anything that can help you convert that nervous energy into positivity and excitement.

Once you’re all hyped up and ready, don’t forget to bring that energy into your virtual classroom and share that excitement with your student!

4. Curb catastrophic thinking

On the first day of lessons, most online English teachers will probably have these concerns on their minds: What if the Internet cuts out? What if my computer lags? What if my student doesn’t understand me? What if my student is rowdy? What if my student won’t like me?  

In online English teaching, there are many “what ifs” that will cross your mind on your first day. While these are valid concerns, we tend to create situations and stories in our heads about events that are yet to happen, and most of the time, they’re negative! Thinking of these negative scenarios will only lead to more worry, nervousness, and stress.

To stop yourself from overthinking worst-case scenarios, remember to separate fact from imagination. Remember the skills you learned in your Teaching English Online TEFL/TESOL Certification Course. In addition, think of the concerns that you can prevent beforehand, such as testing your Internet connection, reviewing your online teaching background, and checking the functionality of your headset and mic. 

5. Remember that it’s not about you

Most people who pursued a career in teaching, if not all, decided to do so because they love teaching, or they like working with children. If you also have these same reasons for becoming a teacher, remind yourself of this and realize that this first lesson, and teaching in general, is not about you.

Instead of feeling nervous, concentrate on how you can help the students learn, not how you can perform perfectly. Whether you’re holding one-on-one online lessons or teaching a group, your goal is to help them speak English better and with confidence. You can use ESL props such as toys, fun reward systems, and even realia like musical instruments to keep your students engaged throughout the session.  

At the end of the day, what the student will learn during your lesson will matter more than your nerves.

Begin the journey of a thousand miles  

Remember, this is the start of a new career, and first-day jitters are normal. Your students will have them, too! To keep first-day nerves to a minimum when teaching English online, remember to get plenty of rest, stay positive, and try to take the focus off yourself and put it on your learners.  

Learn more about this in-demand profession and if it’s right for you: The Pros and Cons of Teaching English Online.