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Online Teaching Library > For ONSITE Instructors > Your First Day of Class


Why is this important?


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The first day of class is your opportunity to set the tone for the entire semester. It's a time to get your students excited about the content of the course and the chance to show them that your class is going to be a supportive and stimulating place for them to learn.

Use these strategies as inspiration for a first day of class that reflects your unique teaching style and goals.

Think through key questions and strategies.

What do you think about as you prepare for your upcoming class? What questions do you ask yourself? Ken Bain, author of the book, "What the Best College Teachers Do," identified 13 questions that outstanding college teachers ask themselves as they prepare to teach a course.

Learn more: Questions the Best College Teachers Ask Themselves


Create a comfortable class climate.
  • Learn students' names.
  • Use an icebreaker.
  • Establish a balance between professionalism and rapport.
  • Share contact information among students.

Learn more: Learning Students' Names  |  Icebreakers for Onsite Classes  |  Professional Boundaries: Setting the Tone


Tell students where they are going.
  • Share the flow and/or structure of your course.
  • Present the course outcomes as per Academy syllabus.
  • Explain how the course fits into the major and profession.
  • Debunk myths — if any — about the course.
  • Model the teaching style and expectations you plan to use throughout the semester by beginning and ending on time and using group work.

Learn more: Reviewing Your Course Details  |  Beginning and Ending On Time


Find out what your students already know.
  • What do your students expect?
  • Attempt to assess any tangled knowledge or mistaken beliefs about the topic.
  • Assess students' existing skills and interests.

Generate interest in what the students will learn in your class.
  • Present at least one of the big questions your course will answer.
  • Present some student work from previous semesters.
  • Show some examples from your industry that employ techniques or tools that students are going to be learning in your class.
  • Present some of your own work.

Learn more: Big Questions


Review essential administrative issues.
  • Address enrollment issues and the details of the syllabus for Week 2.
  • Indicate materials students will need for Week 2 (course reader, supplies, etc.).

Learn more: Reviewing Supplies


Assign homework.
  • Engage students with at least one of the topics you've presented.
  • Clarify your expectations for homework and other assignments in writing.

Learn more: Assigning Homework

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