Yeah, that can be scary…unless you’re an experienced teacher. I pretty much did just that my last year of teaching – went into each class with no plan.
It was great!
So how can you do the same?
I’d suggest these simple tips:
Bag of Tricks
I’ve mentioned this a lot on this site and in my ESL books. You need to have a backpack or basket that has things in it. What kinds of things? That depends on the level. If I’m doing young kids it’ll be toy-like things. If it’s older students it’ll be paper-like things. Either way, these things save you time, and you need them in a pinch.
Nothing works better when you have no idea better than dice. Just take one out of your bag and roll it on the floor. You’ll immediately have everyone’s attention. Sometimes people will be smiling at you in anticipation. Of course you don’t know what to do, but I bet you can think of some things. Usually this goes with writing 6 verbs on the board and making sentences. That’s just one idea.
Need a stupid idea that works? Make paper airplanes and throw them down the hallway, or better yet, out the window or off the balcony. Have some rules first, like measuring speed, distance, and cool flips and such. That requires you to go over some vocabulary. Gosh, you’ve got a lesson.
Your best friend is routine. If you have a warm-up, a main activity, and then a game you’ll do fine. I laid out this strategy in my book English Rocks and I hope you buy a copy. Mainly though, it’s putting names on the board, doing one page of book, doing a quick game, watching a short video, doing a page in the book, having some pair work. See how I didn’t mention ages or ability levels? It’s routine.
You’re the teacher, you tell people what to do and you are right. There is no negotiation. And guess what – you know English. Remember, you’re the teacher. Don’t look for answers, say what you know. Most of the time you’re right, and if not, it’ll bother you and you’ll look it up later and then you will know and you won’t make that mistake again. It’s called learning, try doing it while teaching it.