Teaching Tip #1: The First Day of Class

The first day of class is exciting and anxiety provoking for both you and your students.  Here are some ways to set a positive tone for the rest of the semester, courtesy of BYU’s Teaching Tips.

  1. Share and create enthusiasm about the subject matter
    1. Explore commonly held myths
    2. Introduce recent discoveries
    3. Pose provocative questions
  2. Set expectations
    1. Share your beliefs about teaching and learning
    2. Explain what you expect of yourself and of learners throughout the term
    3. Demonstrate those expectations on the first day
    4. Whatever you want learners to do during the semester, do it on the first day (discussions, group work, critical thinking, etc.) because this demonstrates to learners what the class will be like
    5. Ask learners to share what they hope to gain from the class
  3. Involve learners quickly
    1. Give substantial content
    2. Give an assignment on the first day
    3. Have learners submit questions that will be answered at the next meeting (submit through note cards, Blackboard, etc.)
    4. Provide an informative, user-friendly syllabus
    5. Provide an opportunity for learners to ask questions about any aspect of the class
    6. Invite learners to give feedback on the first day of class (e.g., on a note card, using a Blackboard survey)
    7. Conduct a knowledge census (a pre-test of sorts) to determine what learners already know so that you know what gaps need to be filled in
  4. Develop positive relationships
    1. Learn names
    2. Do an ice-breaker activity
    3. Reveal something about yourself
    4. Have learners share something about themselves

Additional resources:

Davis, B. D. (1993). Tools for Teaching.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McKeachie, W.J. & Svinicki, M. (2006). McKeachie’s Teaching Tips. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.


One Response

  1. What I do the first day when time permits, I have the students say their names again and have them share a little about themselves. I also use name cards on desk until I can matching the association. Usually within 5 classes I get most of the names. Students in the class also learn a little more about their classmates as well.

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