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Teaching for the First Time in Thailand!

It’s your first time and first day of teaching and you're thinking to yourself “oh my days, I’m going to teach these kids, they’re my responsibility and I’m going to start my first day of teaching! “Oh crap, oh my god and what have I got myself into?” The best feeling to remember is you're not alone in this!

This is my first teaching job and the first few months were not easy as I was new into this career and at first I felt clueless on how to present a lesson to a group of teenagers and put myself under pressure to be the best teacher but I learnt overtime it got better and I fell in love with teaching and Thailand all over again.

So I guess I would like to share how I overcame that obstacle of teaching for the first time if you feel anxious about teaching for the first time. This blog talks about my self doubt, overcoming obstacles and how teaching in Thailand has changed me for the better!

The First Couple of Months and After Inspection

The first fact about me is I grew up in a teaching family. My mum was a teacher for 10 years in the subject of travel and tourism in a local college and my grandma was a primary school teacher then became a headmistress in the mid 1970s until she retired in the early 1990s. So teaching has been pretty much part of my family, it took me years to convince me to go into teaching let alone teach abroad. After finishing my degree and going round in circles with life, I decided to take a plunge and give it a go. I’ve been to Thailand before as a tourist and loved it and the fact I’m living in the most beautiful country I think in the world, sometimes I need to pinch myself daily, that I’m living the dream!

The first day is always going to be the hardest whatever we are going to do. I remember my first day of teaching, I was incredibly nervous to start and to even walk into my classroom to start my teaching career to the point I got myself into a state of panic after my first couple of classes had ended to the point that I was texting my friends “I can’t do this!”

The first few weeks the school has been learning online as they try to keep everybody safe from covid and we need to respect their rules. So teaching experience has been quite interesting as I got to experience both teaching approaches online and in the classroom.

I remember I made lots of mistakes and I would leave the school everyday for the first couple of weeks thinking “how can I do this and can I do this?” The first couple of months I put myself under a lot of pressure to improve as I believed I was a rubbish teacher and the students found it hard to adapt. It was after my first inspection with the agency that brought that inner spark I didn’t know I had, until I saw my feedback from the inspector and it was the positive feedback I really needed as I felt I wasn’t cut out for teaching. It was then that after the inspection I had this desire to learn more on how to be better and learn to catch the ropes of teaching and be ok with my mistakes instead of getting myself worked up and stop being negative towards myself after the positive feedback I received.

I learnt how to be at ease with my teaching style, as the students' in the first few months of teaching saw me from being a stressed and rather irritated person when I started, to being a happy and approachable teacher.

After this change of perspective the students then began to thrive with their work, gain confidence to speak English and felt at ease with learning English with me. It took awhile but the motto of ‘mai bpen rai’ really paid off and because of my positive approach in teaching I have been welcomed back to the school to teach another semester which of course I said yes!

Making Mistakes and Mai Bpen Rai it means “No Worries”

Thai teachers who you will be working with will remind you their favourite phrase which is “mai bpen rai” it means: don’t worry, never mind, it’s ok and no worries or how I personally see it as ‘hakuna matata’

The beautiful thing about first time teachers in Thailand is that they have a very laid back approach for first time teachers and you can make many mistakes without feeling this sense of great anxiety, I cannot say for other countries and previous teaching experience myself as this is my first time teaching job and first time teaching abroad.

But coming from countless jobs since finishing my degree in the year 2017 and if I made any mistake big or small the consequences back home in England which can leave you feeling emotionally broken and a serious amount of self doubt, which shouldn’t be that way ever!

Over time the impact of how they help you in teaching, the laid back approach in Thailand and changing your perspective has really paid off and I’m so happy to know I can do a job regardless of my weaknesses and constantly improve in a friendly and accepting approach to the job.

Outcome of Teaching for the First Time

As I’ve written here before I will say it again, I’ve learnt how to be ok with my mistakes and I’ve learnt how to be at ease with my teaching style. It’s weird how a teaching job can be a love and hate relationship, but if you learn to trust yourself and be at ease with yourself it makes this job so worthwhile. Before I started and applied to teach abroad I didn’t believe I could do it as I didn’t see myself as a good teacher and didn’t see myself as a positive person, but in the span of 5 months of teaching it has taught me everything I wanted and it shows that after taking years to convince to go teach and live abroad if I can do this and take the plunge, then so can you!


Written by Sophie Oliver who flew out to Thailand with TFT in October 2021! You can follow Sophie's teaching journey on her instagram: @findingsophiie


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