My first teaching job was stressful. I was working in South Korea as the native speaker English teacher at a middle school. About a day before classes started, I asked one of my Korean co-teachers,
So, um…What should I teach?
At that point, I had never had any substantial teacher training and I hadn’t even been given a textbook to work from. Needless to say, I was looking for a little guidance.
It doesn’t matter. Teach whatever you want. We just want you to try hard.
The next few months were a little difficult.
And when I say “a little difficult,” I mean agonizing. I spent several school nights staying up until two or three in the morning combing the internet for standalone lessons that would work with classes of 30-35 middle school students of varied proficiency. I’ve been teaching for several years since then and I think I’d still find that situation challenging.
At the time, I was desperately in need of some structure and order to ease my cognitive load. The solution would have been to create a syllabus. But that’s easier said than done, especially for a novice teacher without any guidance. I wouldn’t have known where to start.
Since that period of chaos, I’ve created different syllabi for the various teaching situations I’ve found myself in. In this post, I’ll talk about a few of those situations and how to create an appropriate syllabus for each of them.