Top 5 Tips to Help you Get Ready for the New Semester

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Top 5 Tips to Start your Semester off Well

Bust out of your Summer Apathy!

It’s that time again! The new semester is starting up soon and I’m sure teachers are busy getting everything ready to go. Here are some of my best tips for how to get yourself ready for that new semester teaching in a Korean university.

Top 5 tips to get ready for next semester teaching in a Korean university

Ready? Let’s get to the things you need to do to get ready for your next semester. If you’re a newbie, these will be gold (also see the newbie tips here). Been around the block a few times? You may even pick up a tip or two. And, please leave a comment below and add your own thoughts.

#1: Plan ahead

There’s nothing more terrible than frantically trying to pull something together an hour before class. Trust me, I’ve been there and it’s not a happy place for your mental health. I always try to stay 2-3 weeks ahead for my lesson planning instead of waiting for crunch time before anything gets done.

My favourite way to do this is to head to my favourite coffee shop (Coffee Farm in Hadan-Dong, Busan!) for a serious session. I bring my textbooks and laptop and then just get to it. I’m far more motivated in a nice place like this to do 4-5 hours of lesson planning that in my office or at home.

2-3 of these sessions during the break will get me weeks ahead. This makes my life during the semester way less busy compared to many of my co-workers.

#2: Murphy’s LawThings don’t work

You know it always happens: Monday morning at 8:00 am before the semester starts, there’s a line-up of 5 people trying to use the photocopier to copy their syllabus and of course it breaks.

Be organized and hit it a few days before, just in case, especially if you have an old piece of junk like at my university. It’s surprisingly sleepy say a week before the semester. Plus, the department secretary will be far less busy and able to assist you with whatever you need at that time. If you need their help though, send them a quick text to make sure they’ll be in the office because they get vacation time too.

#3: Simple is Best, for Everything

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel and simple is almost always better. Of course, put a bit of effort and creative energy into your lessons, but it really is okay to use a page or two out of the textbook, or to use something like 39 ESL Warm-Ups: For Teenagers and Adults. People have gone before you and done all the hard work, so why not take advantage of it?

#4: Recycle Teaching Materials

Similar to not reinventing the wheel, hopefully you’ve been saving your lessons somewhere in a place like Dropbox or Google Drive (read the post for why I love Google Drive). There are always plenty of generic “conversation” classes here in Korea where you are free to use anything you want. It’s much easier to reuse an old lesson than to pull something new out of your hat.

Plus, I often teach the same English textbook semester to semester. I’ll use the exact same lessons, but just think back to what didn’t work and adapt it a little bit. This takes 5-10 minutes, instead of an hour or two. Consider yourself fortunate if this is your situation as well!

#5: Work Space

Make sure that you have a happy place where you can get work done so you can put some focused effort into stuff. For me, it’s usually not at home. If I want to be productive, it’s far better for me to go into my office, which I’m lucky enough to share with only 2 people who are rarely (if ever) there.

When we are there together, people just do their own thing and while friendly, we don’t carry on a running conversation, thankfully. If you have chatty office mates, you may want to realize that it’s not the place to do serious work.

But some people at other universities share an office with 10+ people and of course, serious work is impossible in that kind of environment. So ,those people could maybe find a quiet coffee shop near their house, a public library or set-up a space at home to do serious work like lesson planning and grading. Whatever works for you. Just be sure to find that space where you can focus.

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Have your Say about Preparing for Teaching in Korean University

What are your top tips for getting ready for the new semester? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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