The First Day of Class
How does the saying go, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” What you do in your first class of of the quarter sets the tone for the rest of the course. If you want your class to be a welcoming, student-centered, natural, critical learning environment, you need to start at minute 1 of class 1.
Some students have chosen to be there. Some are there to fulfill a requirement. Some are “shopping” to see if this course (and instructor) is any good. You need to convince all of them that they made the right choice. At the very least, you shouldn’t do anything that makes them want to not come back. On Tuesday, November 26, we’ll talk about some practical things you should (and shouldn’t) do to get your class off to a good start.
Tasks to complete before class
- Read this 2-page handout First Day of Class (PDF) written by folks at the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative.
- Read this excellent 2-pager on motivating students to learn (PDF), also written by the CWSEI.
- Okay, don’t laugh, but take a moment to think about this now, before you’re standing at the front of the lecture hall with 300 pairs of eyes staring at you: What do you want your students to call you? Here’s what I used to say (and I chose to let them use my first name, you might not want that.):
You can call me Peter, that’s fine with me, or Dr. Newbury. But not Professor Newbury – “professor” means something specific in University and I don’t have that rank – and not Dr. Peter, that’s been used by someone else. [Dr. Peter Jepson Young (1957 - 1992), a famous AIDS researcher in Vancouver.]
- Write down – yes, it sounds silly but give it a try – write down your opening line on the first day. You’d don’t want to start your course with
Uh, hi, everyone, uh EVERYONE, let’s get going. Now. Hello! [tap mic] [tap mic] Yeah, hi, welcome to, uh, Astro-, A-S-T-, astronomy. I mean, Astronomy 101. I’m really, ya know, excited you’re..oh, hi, yeah sure, sit there, Oh, you’re leaving. okaaay. Right, where was I? Okay, let me get the first slide, uh, sli-, ack, stupid computer…oh $@#&% [click click click] okay, got it…
Yeah, not that. And then rehearse saying out loud – we speak differently than we write – so listen how it sounds.
- If you haven’t read it yet, look at the description of the microteaching task and follow the links there to pick a time to schedule your presentation.