My First Lesson – A Post for the #ELTChat blog challenge

The Faculty of Philosophy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki where I spent four years (Image taken from

First lessons, first lessons…. do I remember my first one ever? I sure do! I have not kept my lesson plan, or have any photos or any other things from that day – I just remember that I was 19 years old and a student at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

As a part of a course called Teaching in Secondary Education, we went several times to observe a high school class before we were actually asked to (gulp!) teach the kids. Imagine that our age difference was so small, I was 19 and the kids were 17. Thoughts that went through our heads? (We were a group of four who were going to teach individually on four consecutive days.) Will the kids like us? Will they think that we are too young to teach them? Of course, the students knew why we were there, but still… In addition, the school was in one of the most underprivileged areas of Thessaloniki and some of the kids were in gangs, some were taking drugs, which made it even harder.

I do not remember which coursebook we were using (perhaps I have all this material in Greece, I have to check next time I am there) but I do remember it was a lesson on graffiti. I was to do a listening task with them, which I thought I could expand into a speaking task as well. I have no recollection of anything else. The night before I did not sleep a wink – I was constantly getting up and looking at the book, practising what I would say and thinking the worst scenarios, that they would laugh at me. My clothes were hanging on a chair. I was going to wear a bright blue cardigan and jeans (it is so strange what our brain manages to keep as a memory!).

I went in the following morning to a group of twenty or so very chatty and hyper-energetic 17-year-olds and I was thinking “How will I ever get their attention?” so I suddenly blurted out “OK, who likes soccer?” They suddenly stopped talking and started shouting out only the names of their favourite teams and commenting later…in English! (Thessaloniki has three very popoular soccer teams, PAOK, Aris and Heracles). I was thinking, oh no, their teacher (who was sitting at the back) is going to be so disappointed I did not start immediately with the book (little did I know back then!). I slowly pulled them into the lesson with graffiti (I connected it to soccer, as the walls in Thessaloniki were covered with sometimes really beautiful graffiti related to soccer among others).

I cannot remember too many details and it is a shame I have not found my notes or plans of the day. The teacher liked how I managed to get their attention and the kids said they liked it at the end! I was a happy 19-year-old (and I learned successful teaching does not mean open the book to page 34 at the beginning of a lesson!) – I was so encouraged by this experience, that I started teaching as a private teacher after that.

20 thoughts on “My First Lesson – A Post for the #ELTChat blog challenge

    1. Hi Naomi!

      Thank you so much for your very nice words! I feel really happy in this profession, I know I still make mistakes but that is the beauty of it – educators learn daily which is great!

      It is really funny though because I cannot recall a lot from the actual lesson but I remember the terror and nerves I felt : )

      Thank you so much,

  1. Well, this is how we all take a deep plunge into teaching one day, isn’t it? Just go for it… and enjoy, but, always bear in mind, a couple of activities up in our sleeves, if all doesn’t go the way it’s planned…

    1. Aw Chiew – thank you so much! I enjoy teaching a lot and I learn from it, from my students and from my mistakes : )

      Your words always give me a lot of strength and motivation and I really appreciate that. Thank you so much!

      Big hugs,

  2. I agree. You were actually a natural, and it’s that “natural” quality that comes out in “great” teachers who have planned to do something and do that but maybe not quite in the way they had imagined :-). It means you are connecting with your students, of course. If you could do that in your very first lesson, well, just imagine what you do now!

    1. Thanks so much, Sharon!

      I try to do my best every day. I learn every day – from social media a great deal, from all of you that are out there every day and do a superb job!

      Mille grazie,

  3. Vicky,
    What a lovely experience! Isn’t it good to have such a great start, something you can think beautifully of?

    It’s not that easy to get Ss’ attention, especially when your age difference with your Ss is so small. Also, when Ss know you are there to substitute a single class (or just do a class for evaluative purposes), they know they’ll never see you again, so they are more likely to do whatever they want. However, you managed it very well!

    I think what you did was because you have good people skills. Identifying their needs, you started the lesson by drawing their attention first, which I think is essential to get Ss involved, no matter what you are teaching. Relating to them and making the lesson entertaining, just like you did, is the best way to handle teenagers and so get them involved.

    Can you imagine teacher started with the course book, doing the activities one by one, standing over them, and showing no interest to their needs? I don’t want to even think about how bad both the teacher and Ss would have felt at the end of the lesson. 

    Some teachers are born to be teachers, and this single example shows you are one of them:))

    1. Hi Nesrin!

      Thanks so much for your nice and thoughtful comment : ) It is a very nice memory (as much as I remember of it!) I have and I was fortunate that it worked out well so early.

      Throughout these fourteen years, I have had good and bad moments. I try to learn something from everything!

      Thanks again,

  4. Well that’s the best way to teach someone, because they learn with things that they like to do!

  5. Weren’t we all so naive and nervous back then? I’d be ashamed to tell anyone how my first classes went. I used Interchange 2, as was given to me to use. I knew nothing. I thought a 45-minute class was 10 hours. I spent half of it asking the 20 students how they were. It was pitiful. Haha.

    1. Hi Tyson!

      Absolutely – I have had lessons that have not been so good and felt like a century : ) It was great that the first one went okay and did not put me off teaching ; ))

  6. That is a lovely post,
    I remembered my first lesson while reading this. Sharing these things actually are the key elements that keep teachers alive. Thank you;)

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