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The first day, setting the tone

SoTL in 10 minutes

The First Day, Setting the Tone

 

Who are you? 

It is important on the first day, for that first impression, for students to get the best sense of who you are.  This is especially important for first semester freshmen as they begin their new chapter in life.  Start their education with letting them get to know their professor, both philosophically (difference between a teacher and a professor) and personally (are you married, hobbies, research interests).

Enjoy this blog post by John Warner

Thinking Context: Professors and Teachers

http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/just-visiting/thinking-context-professors-and-teachers

Who are your students?

As important as it is for your students to quickly get to know you, you need to know your students – their hopes, dreams, aspirations and especially their challenges.  Appreciate them as complete individuals.  I distribute the attached “Student Information Sheet” and read them a couple of times over the first couple of weeks of class.  Below, the first bullet is a bunch of ice breaker ideas – learning basic personal facts.  The second bullet provides for activities to help understand what kind of students they are.

·         http://www.icebreakers.ws/large-group

·         http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/first-day-of-class-activities-that-create-a-climate-for-learning/

And some other really good ideas in the comments as well.

CATs: Classroom Assessment Techniques

Some of use CATs throughout the semester as a way to check what is getting through clearly and what topics might need a do-over.  But consider using them on the first day.  What do they think they know about this course?  What misunderstandings or misconceptions do they bring?

·         Background quiz

·         Minute paper

·         Muddiest point

·         What’s the principle

 For a brief description of each, and more, see http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/teaching-guides/assessment/cats/

Additionally, the CTL has the following books in its library on CATs

·         TA Angelo and KP Cross, Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, 2nd ed., 1993.  Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

·         L Suskie, Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide, 2004.  Anker Publishing, San Francisco.

·         SA Ambrose et al., How Learning Works: 7 Research Based Principles for Smart Teaching, 2010.  Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

·         SD Brookfield, Teaching for Critical Thinking: Tools and Techniques to Help Students Question Their Assumptions, 2012.  Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

 

Does it really matter?

Think the first day doesn’t matter, these professors from Georgia State would disagree.

The First Day of Class Affects Student Motivation: An Experimental Study

JH Wilson and SB Wilson, Teaching of Psychology 34(4):226-30, 2007

What NOT to do!

The title says it all:

What not to do on your first day of class

Joan E. Strassmann, 08/31/12