Tips for the First Day of Class

How can I use the first days of class to set the tone for the semester?

Introduce yourself and set course goals & expectations:

You can never make a second first impression.  The first class sessions will set the tone of the classroom environment and set the norms of student behavior in the course.

  • Introduce the course (or laboratory or discussion section) and the expectations of the students (refer to the Course Syllabus).
  • Consider how you would like to handle shopping period: At Brown students have 2 weeks to finalize their registrations.  The student population may change during those first two weeks and accurate records may be difficult.  Learn how Brown faculty have handled shopping period.
  • Have a plan and practice ahead of time; teaching is a presentation.

Get to know your students:

Understanding your students’ backgrounds can help you aim material at the right level.  Understanding of students’ expectations and interests can help you motivate your students to learn.  Example activities include:

  • Ask students to introduce themselves to the class and perhaps provide some information relevant to the topic of the course (in the classroom or online). 
  • Create and distribute a student questionnaire, where students can provide you with basic information about themselves, their background in the subject area and any particular concerns they may have about their ability to succeed in this course. 
  • Give students an opportunity to get to know each other.  Ask a question that they can discuss in small groups of 2-3.
  • Learn student’s names to encourage them to interact with you.  At Brown, Banner has an online picture roster that you can print and take to class.
  • Encourage students to see you during office hours.

Learn more about how to make the most of the first day(s) of class.