First Day of Class
The best time to set expectations is at the start of the course as you and the students are getting to know each other. Consider the following strategies:
- Make behavioral and academic expectations clear in your syllabus.
- Use positive, constructive language, not threats of reprisal.
- Ask your students to work in groups on the first day to develop classroom rules (view additional suggestions for setting ground rules).
- Talk about yourself and let the students know what you value.
- Learn your students’ names and learn more about them.
- Encourage students to see learning as a process, and to see how your course fits into their larger learning goals. In “First-Day Questions for the Learner-Centered Classroom“, Gary A. Smith suggests an activity that can increase student buy-in from Day One by getting them to think about the value to themof the work you are asking them to do.
- Be alert for possible mismatched expectations.
- Have students complete a knowledge survey to see what they already know about the topics to be covered (or remember from prerequisite courses).
For additional tips, see the following links:
- How to Teach a Good First Day of Class, James Lang (Chronicle guide)
- The First Day of Class: A Once-a-Semester Opportunity
- Making your first class meeting truly first class!
- View additional guidance in designing a great syllabus