One of the things you can count on in academic life is that sooner or later, the new term will begin. With it will come a bunch of fresh faces, maybe some fresh courses, and always, blessedly, the chance for a fresh start. Maybe you’ve got your personal routine down pat for getting ready for the first day. but if you’re new to teaching, or if you’d like to do something different this year, then perhaps the ProfHacker archives can help.
Take Care of Yourself
George reminds us that “your stress level is about to go up significantly” and offers some good suggestions about how to make plans now to manage your future stress, including learning to say “no” to some requests, and practicing good self-care.
Paying attention to what you say and how you respond to those around you can help you maintain an optimistic, calm mindset when you need it the most. Jason resolves to avoid the trap of complaining about “these kids today” and I suggest that we dispense with the metaphor of the salt mines to describe our work.
Do a Little Planning
Jason reminds us that although you will be in class every day, some of your students may not, due to the add/drop period. Thinking ahead about how you will handle shifting enrollments for the first few days can help you ensure that you and all of your students are making the best use of classroom time.
Billie discusses two structured models for lesson planning, Nels explains why he creates GTD action lists for students, and George offers a simple way to have students show their work and build discussion.
What Kind of Roles Will You Play in Your Classroom?
Jason writes about how serving as a coach has influenced his approach to giving feedback and communicating with students. Julie suggests that instructors interested in using technology in their teaching should try to balance being a role model, acting as tech support, and being a cheerleader.
What will you actually do on the first day?
Although Brian’s excellent post “So Now You’re a Teacher…” is aimed at new instructors, it contains useful tips and reminders about the nitty-gritty details of teaching that anyone could find helpful, such as: take a look at your classroom beforehand, bring your own whiteboard markers, and be explicit about how you want your students to address you. I offer some tips on Learning Student Names.
Jason wrote about how he sets expectations for students on the first day by doing four things: going through his course policies; telling a story about his own learning process; introducing the course wiki; and talking about literary interpretation. His post includes some useful links to a section of his syllabus and other resources.
If you’ve spent the summer in t-shirts and flip-flops, it can feel a bit disconcerting to have to think about what to wear to class. Check out guest author Courtney Danforth’s three-part series on The Academic Wardrobe: Habitude; Planning; and Getting Dressed.
Are there other first day topics you’d like to see us cover? Let us know in the comments!