First Day Lesson Planning

Hello everyone~ While some of you might be finishing up the school year and others are a few months into it, I wanted to highlight an area that I think every ETA gets nervous about- the first day of school! After all, teachers like to prepare no matter what time of year, right?

Establishing the rhythm of your classroom is so important for the first couple of days, and I think even more so in ESL classrooms. Sometimes teachers can be so eager to begin leading their students to learn English that they forget that the first knowledge students need is what’s expected of them in the classroom and the tools to be successful in that first.

That’s why I think the First Day Lesson Planning folder is a really important resource to check out. There are four different sub-folders- Classroom Language, Classroom Rules, Reward Systems, and Self-Introduction. Currently, all the resources come from South Korean ETAs, but they can certainly be tweaked to match your host country! (And, of course, if you have any resources you want to share, please send them to While the current translations in the resources are Korean, I hope you could find a co-teacher willing to help you out by translating the directions into the students’ native language, and you can certainly change the resources to meet the needs of your own classroom and how you want the students to interact with you.

Sticker Chart by Margaret Cleveland

I believe the Classroom Language folder is the most important, particularly for primary/beginner students. These students might not have had any experience learning a new language, and they won’t necessarily be able to communicate their classroom needs. Giving the students the language they need to access the classroom is vital to their success.

If you don’t have technology in the classroom, I recommend figuring out what kind of charades you can do to teach the students the commands and phrases that you will use most frequently in the classroom. Pictures and realia are also useful tools to help you bridge the gap between your students and the language. And of course, don’t forget to practice them consistently for at least the first couple classes to really help it stick! If anyone has any suggestions or stories about things that worked (or didn’t work) for you in setting up your classroom on the first day, please share them in the comments below~

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