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Meeting your Class for the First Time

Tips for the First Day of Class

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Tips for the First Day of Class from The Penn State Teacher II pgs 23-27:

It's normal to feel nervous on the first day of a new class - the best way to combat it is to prepare, prepare, prepare!

1. Visit your classroom ahead of time - Is it big enough; does it have the technology you need; how can you arrange the seating; can everyone see the board?

2. Check on textbooks and resources: make sure books have arrived in the bookstore; double check library reserves and know the process for students to access them.

3. Find out how to use the technology you'll need: course management systems and classroom equipment.

4. Talk with faculty who have taught the course before. Find out what worked and also potential pitfalls. What can you expect your students to know already about the subject? What's a reasonable work load?

5. Have a detailed plan for the first session. The first meeting sets the tone for the rest of your class. Plan accordingly:

* Arrive early and greet your students

* Introduce yourself and give your background. Tell why you are interested in your subject matter

* Write your name, the course name and number on the board so students know immediately if they are in the wrong place

* Get to know your students and let them get to know each other. Use icebreakers. Establishing a friendly rapport with students helps set the stage to encourage active participation throughout the semester

*Take time to go over the syllabus, introduce the course, and establish common goals and expectations. Let them know the kinds of work they'll be doing - provide examples and demonstrations of the output you expect from them. Spend time in the first session to explain fully how the course will run. Make sure you allow time for questions and to clarify expectations.

* Make sure you give information to and get information from students. Why are they taking the course; what do they hope to get out of it; what are their expectations for the course; what is their current background knowledge of the course material; what are some personal interests/hobbies.

* Let students know how they can contact you and when you are available.

* Explain why and how the course is relevant to their lives. Make connections to real-life examples and students' experiences.

* Remember that students are nervous on the first day, too - spend the first day focusing on them: what they want and need to know, answering questions about assignments and expectations, explaining ways to be successful in your course, and setting a friendly tone in the class.

101 Things you can do in the First Three Weeks....

Excerpted from University of Nebraska at Lincoln Instructional Support Services. Retrieved August 11, 2006 from .

The ideas from this site are organized into seven categories:

  • Helping students make transitions
  • Directing students' attention
  • Challenging students
  • Providing support
  • Encouraging active learning
  • Building Community
  • Getting feedback on teaching

To see concrete ideas for each category, visit the website at UNL


To read more about meeting your class for the first time, visit the links below.

University of California at Berkeley tips GO GO

University of Hawaii at Honolulu Tips GO

Vanderbilt University tips GO

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Suzanne C. Shaffer, M.Ed., MS.Ed.
Instructional Design eLearning Support
Penn State York Campus
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