It’s almost that time again – the first day of class. I have sometimes struggled with what to do the first day; do I dive right in or just cover the syllabus and let the students go? The literature tells us that the first day of class is important, if not critical, to the success of a course and the students. The first day sets the tone because students form their opinion about the instructor and the course in the first few minutes. So what are the best practices for the first day?
To create a community of learning from the start, make the students feel welcome, set clear expectations for the students, discuss the goals and student learning outcomes of the course, and engage the students in content. Okay, let’s talk about tips for each of these. To welcome students, get to the classroom early and greet students as they arrive. Start class on time (this conveys that punctuality and class time are important) and introduce yourself. Next, talk to the students about your expectations and details about the course. Students need to understand the goals of the course, what they will learn, how they will learn it, and how they will be assessed. They also need to know about your attendance policy, late work policy, and behavior expectations (cell phones off?). Sometime during that first class meeting, engage the students in an activity or two. Engaging students right away delivers the message that they will be involved in the course, not just spectators.
What are your first day of class best practices? Feel free to share them!
University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (2013). The first day of class. Retrieved from http://www.unl.edu/gtahandbook/first-day-class.
Weimer, M. (2013). First day of class activities that create a climate for learning. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/first-day-of-class-activities-that-create-a-climate-for-learning/.