Teaching & Learning Tip #18: Rock Your First Day of Class!
Tip #18: Rock Your First Day of Class!
What do you remember from a “first day of class” as a student? Did you know that the first day of class sets the tone for the rest of the course (Nilson, 2003)? As you enter your classrooms on the first day, consider some of the following tips to set the tone for the learning space.
Communicate prior to the first day of class
- Send an email that welcomes students and invites their energy to the learning environment. Include a brief ‘welcome video‘ to help them get to know you before class begins
- Offer an online Syllabus Quiz, a brief overview of the course, expectations, materials, etc., so that students already have a sense of what is expected on the first day and can jump right into an icebreaker
Create an inviting, inclusive classroom
- Include an icebreaker that gets students talking to each other, and you!
- Co-create shared class guidelines/norms
- Facilitate the Values Activity focused on creating a sense of belonging
Be authentic and get to know your students
- Share a personal story, e.g., your first day of class as a student
- Review some Simple Strategies to Develop Rapport with Students and Build a Positive Classroom Climate
- Create a Student Info Sheet to collect information about the students’ year in school, major, learning goals for this course, career objectives, what helps them learn, etc. (this is also useful in forming groups/teams)
Establish expectations and requirements
- Describe the learning outcomes (what do these really mean to the student?)
- Share expectations of you as instructor
- Provide opportunities for feedback at regular intervals to help students know where they are ‘at’ in their learning
Contributed by Kim Vincent-Layton, Center for Teaching and Learning
- HSU Quality Learning & Teaching Best Practices Guide (with samples of inclusiveness)
- Guiding Principles Before the First Day and the First Day of Class
- Vanderbilt First Day of Class
- First Day of Class Activities That Create a Climate for Learning
Desrochers, C. G. (2008). Making your first class meeting truly first class! CSU Institute for Teaching & Learning.
Lyons, R., McIntosh, M., & Kysilka, M. (2003). Teaching college in an age of accountability. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Nilson, L. (2003). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (2nd ed.). Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.
Be sure to see other T&L Tips on the CTL website at: https://ctl.humboldt.edu/content/teaching-and-learning-tips