Both students and faculty use the first day of class to get a sense of what the semester will hold: will this be one of the best courses ever, or an hour of suffering three times a week?
If you are still looking for ideas, check out MERLOT ELIXR – a repository of short videos where experienced instructors from different subject areas provide examples of ways to get courses off to a good start. Profs not only describe how they establish motivation for the course, set expectations for success and create a positive classroom climate; they also show how they implement those plans with real students. If you don’t want to watch the videos, you can read the transcripts instead, or jump directly to the reference materials.
Experienced faculty also share back-to-school tips in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s ProfHacker blog post: Preparing for the First Week of Classes. That post covers everything from how to learn students’ names to choosing your academic wardrobe.
If you’d like help planning for your first class or want to share information about activities that have worked well for you, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lynne O'Brien is Director of Academic Technology and Instructional Services for Perkins Library at Duke University. She works with faculty, librarians, campus IT planners and academic technology groups around the country to develop programs to support the use of technology in teaching and research initiatives. Her interests include strategic planning for libraries and for academic technology, open access and open source educational materials and mobile learning.