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On the First Day of Class, Relax and Be Yourself
Lori Hokkanen Says Remember the Students Are Nervous, Too

Lori Hokkanen, a graduate student in Vxj, Sweden, recently posted her advice for a new ESL teacher on the TESL-L listserv. She has contributed her remarks, below, for ESL MiniConference readers.

Others have already provided some excellent suggestions for dealing with first-day anxiety. I'd like to share a little trick that I wish I'd known about when I first started teaching. There are of course some practical things one can do, such as finding out as much as possible about the group before day one, and having a back-up plan (or two! or ten!) in case the lesson you've planned just isn't working. But there are cognitive tricks as well. I find that remembering

1. not to take myself too seriously, and
2. that the learners are probably just as anxious as I am,

is really helpful. I often spend a few moments before each new course reflecting over my own experiences as a learner on the first day of class, remembering how it felt (scary!) and what my expectations were. Sure, I still have moments of doubt, but doing this has been quite liberating. Not worrying so much about "what they think of me" also allows me to focus more on *them*. Even throughout the course, I find that making a conscious effort to remember point number one is really helpful!

Comment by Lori Hokkanen
Vxj University
Vxj, Sweden

2002 ESL MiniConference Online