First Day of Classes
The first day of class is more than a time to review the syllabus - it is also an opportunity to establish your expectations and your vision of the course, as well as set the tone, for the entire semester: Provide insights into how you will teach the class and what you will expect from students as their contributions to the learning process.
Students appreciate a clear roadmap of what you will require of them over the course of the semester. One point to keep in mind is that your course is not your students’ only course. They may be looking for a course that will fill a particular time slot, include a particular learning environment (i.e. lab-based or discussion style), or a course with a certain workload to balance the demands of their other courses and extra-curricular responsibilities. The first few minutes of your comments need to help this varied group of students shift their thoughts and attention to you and to the subjects to be covered in the course.
You may also want to model, as specifically as possible, the classroom environment you intend to foster during the class. For example, if students will spend a good deal of time doing group work over the course of the semester, you may want to break them into groups the first day.
- Fink, L. Dee. First Day of Class: What Can/Should We Do?
Includes “nine attractive possibilities”: “doing even one or several of them on the first day (or during the first week) would seem to accomplish a number of important tasks for getting a class started in the right way.”
- First Day of Class
Includes: The Inviting Classroom – Course Expectations and Requirements – Additional Resources – Summary Checklist
- Make the Most of the First Day of Class
Includes “eight concrete objectives”.
- Middendorf, Joan. “Learning Student Names.”
Includes 27 techniques.
- Preparing for the First Day of Class
Includes: What do students want to know about the course? What do you want to know about students? What do students want to know about you as their instructor?
- See also: First Day of Class
Includes links to other resources: 101 Things You can Do the First Three Weeks of Classes; Getting Started; Name Pronunciation Guide.
Additional Suggested Readings
- Lyons, R., McIntosh, M., & Kysilka, M. (2003). Teaching College in an Age of Accountability. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
- McKeachie, Wilbert. J. and Marilla Svinicki (2006). “Meeting a Class for the Fisrt Time,” pp. 21-28 in McKeachie's Teaching tips : Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers (12th Ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. DOH LB1738.M35 2006
- Smith, Gary A. (2008). “First-Day Questions for the Learner-Centered Classroom,” National Teaching and Learning Forum Vol. 17, No. 5, September 2008.