5 steps to overcoming teacher nerves for your first day teaching English online

woman smiling and teaching english online in front of a laptop and web cam

Your first-day teaching English online has arrived.

You’re feeling so excited that you finally secured an online teaching job but those first-day teaching nerves are creeping up on you.

You might be stuck in your mind asking yourself questions like: 

How will my students react to me? 
What will I do if my students don’t understand me? 
What if the wifi fails?

Whether you are teaching English abroad or online, we all experience those first-day jitters! This is completely normal.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to overcome the teacher's nerves. 

Let’s dive into the practical things that you can do to help you learn how to overcome your teacher anxiety and even make your first day of class one of your best days!

  1. Prepare a familiar routine
  2. Create a backup plan
  3. Practice your lessons in advance
  4. Take care of yourself
  5. Remember, it’s not all about you

1. Prepare a familiar routine

If this is your first time teaching English online, you may not have a routine in place yet. 

However, try to create one in the days leading up to your first class. 

This will help ease those nerves and ensure your first online class is smooth and seamless. 

Consider waking up a little earlier and doing some activities that calm your mind and body before turning on your camera.

Try creating morning rituals like:

  • Journaling about your fears
  • Getting dressed as if you are leaving the house
  • Reciting some positive affirmations
  • Making a healthy breakfast
  • Doing a little exercise to get the heart pumping
  • Breathing deeply to help yourself calm down

Whatever your rituals are, if you create them in advance you will feel more confident in yourself, allowing you to be ready to go for your first day of class! 

Routines don’t have to be complicated. Yet even the smallest mindfulness practice can create a positive shift inside of you. 

Remember, we have all been in nerve-wracking situations and we all made it through to the other side!

2. Create a backup plan

When teaching English online, there are things that can go wrong and technology can cause unforeseen issues at the worst of times. 

So, having some backup plans in this department is essential!

Most online teacher’s worst nightmare is having the internet stop working during a lesson or having to troubleshoot technology when something goes wrong.

Fear not, my friend! 

All things can be solved with a little preparation. 

You can start by making a list of all the things that could go wrong and then write down what you will do if they happen. 

Keep that list close to your computer and all will be ok.

Here are some helpful backup plan ideas:

  1. Make sure you have backup devices like an iPad or phone to be able to message support or to use instead of your computer. 
  2. Think about alternative internet sources you could access if something happens to your network connection. Having a data plan on your phone or a backup wifi device can be a life-saver.
  3. Make a list of the things your company needs you to do if something goes wrong. Write them down because you might not remember them when you’re “in the moment.”
  4. Have a lot of backup props or educational items you can use if you encounter shy and quiet students. This is even helpful if you need extra material for your class. 
  5. If you have children, what are you going to do if they come running in? Make sure you establish the rules first (if they are old enough) and create a plan for them if they need you so they don’t come running in at the wrong time!

Thinking through your backup plan will help lessen any first-day teaching nerves so that you enter your online classroom with confidence.

3. Practice your lessons in advance

This might sound obvious but preparing your lessons in advance cannot be underestimated. 

We don’t mean over-preparing but prepare enough that you feel comfortable with the lesson content and how you are going to teach the objectives.

Make sure to also have your essential props and resources nearby so that you can grab them without thinking. 

Of course, lay out anything you will need to teach the lesson ahead of time. 

A lot of online teachers keep their props and rewards in filing folders for easy access and use storage containers for other teaching items. 

Having a system will help you feel organized and ready to go for your classes.

When you practice the lesson for your first day of online teaching, go through the slides and make notes about what props you might use and things that you want to focus on. 

Honestly, the most important thing you can do is to be flexible, avoiding the need to stick to a script.

To help you overcome first-day teaching nerves, try these helpful strategies:

  • Spend 10 minutes the night before laying out everything you think you will need.
  • Write out anything you think you might forget on a few sticky notes and post them on your computer.
  • Preview the lesson content a couple of times and write down the key things you will focus on.
  • Prepare a list of 2-3 extra educational activities or games that you can play with your student in case you have extra time.

Practice doesn’t always make it perfect but practicing will help you overcome your first-day teaching nerves! 

4. Take care of yourself

We all need to take better care of ourselves and maintain a healthy routine in our daily life. 

Teaching English online can be draining if we aren’t prioritizing our health. 

You might be waking up very early in the morning and teaching for many hours in a row. 

You can avoid burnout by taking the necessary steps to ensure you are always feeling 100%.

Make sure you stay well hydrated eating healthy snacks. 

We know how easy it is to grab the “unhealthy” food because it’s quick and easy but avoid doing this to the best of your abilities. 

If you are teaching sitting down, try to stand up once in a while or even try teaching while you stand up. 

This can help your body stay energized and focused during your online classes.

Finally, make sure you get enough sleep. 

There is nothing more draining than trying to teach while you are overtired. This is not going to help you or your students. 

Maintain a healthy sleep routine ahead of time so that you are accustomed to your new schedule when it begins. 

5. Remember, it’s not all about you

If you have taken a TEFL course like this one, you know a lot of theory and practical applications for teaching English. 

You might have learned about all of the things that you need to do as a teacher and started to feel a bit overwhelmed.

Remember that it is not always about you, rather, it’s about your students. 

By focusing on your students and giving them a positive experience, you can take a lot of pressure off of yourself. 

You have the opportunity to make a real impact in someone’s life and you are knowledgeable in the art of teaching English as a direct result of your TEFL certification. 

So, if your first day comes around and you’re experiencing teaching anxiety, think about how you can make this a fun experience for your students. Students will always remember how a teacher made them feel.

Successful English teachers are the ones that make their classroom an engaging and positive place to be. 

As a result, students will be more likely to learn, take risks, and remember lessons because they enjoy being in your classroom.

Try to worry less about the teaching and focus more on your students and connecting with them. 

Doing this will help you leave a lasting impression so that they want to return and book more of your classes.

First day teaching nerves is normal

The most important thing to remember is that first-day teaching anxiety is normal and once you have taught a few classes, you will be a pro in no time!

Of course, having a backup is essential in case anything unexpected comes up. Although at the end of the day, everything that happens is a learning opportunity. 

Most importantly, focus on your health and practice your lessons so that you are confident on your first day teaching English.

Teaching English is an incredibly rewarding profession and, whether you are teaching online or in person, you can apply our tips to ensure everything runs smoothly.

You can check out our online teaching course to help you get started as an online teacher.