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.

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