DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

May 13


Countdown for Course Preparation

Three months before class

  • The first step in preparing for a course is working out course objectives, choosing the textbooks, selecting the type and order of assignments, and deciding the rest of the plans for your course
  • Your objectives have the advantage of pointing clearly to what you can look for as evidence that the objective has been achieved
  • Overall course objectives involve educating students and to facilitate student learning and thinking
  • In thinking about your goals, remember that each course contributes to other general goals of a university education that transcend specific subject matter
  • You need to keep in mind the characteristics of the setting in which you teach

Two months before class

  • You should start to plan out your syllabus and think about the practicalities of what you must give up in order to achieve the most important objectives within the limitations of time, place, students, and resources
  • Creating a graphic syllabus helps students see how things fit together more effectively and shows them how you think about the course activities
  • Students experience whide variations in demands among courses because teachers often do not estimate or plan out-of-class study time carefully
  • It is helpful to calculate the total numver of study hours available to your cuorse and to plan what all of those hours would ideally be used for, estimating the time demands of each activity
  • As you lay out your syllabus and schedule, consider alternate ways students might achieve the goals of a particular day or week of class
  • Be clear about when and how learning will be assessed

One month before class

  • Planning several classes at a time will make them more integrated and allow you some wiggle room if you get off schedule
  • Work out your plans in advance
  • You need to focus as much on what you expect students to do outside class as on what goes on in class
  • If you want students to become better problem solvers or critical thinkers, they need to practice these skills
  • Varying teaching methods helps teachers suit their objectives and provide students with different learning styles
  • It is possible to teach a course without technology, but when used appropriately, technology can provide opportunities for students to interact with the content and with one another
  • Students will be more motivated to do online activites since we live in a technological world

Two weeks/one week before class

  • Look back over your syllabus to see what resources are required for the course
  • Visit the classroom you've been assigned and look at the seating arrangements and check for technology
  • Start a teaching portfolio to be able to discuss your teaching and development
  • Check out your class-list and send an email to your students to welcome them to your class

Meeting a Class for the First Time

  • Anxiety is less disruptive in situations where stimulus events are clear and unambiguous
  • When students know what to expect, they can direct their energy more productively
  • The first few minutes need to help students shift their thoughts and feelings to you and your subject
  • You can communicate nonverbally with such actions as arranging the seats in a circle, posting an agenda, putting you name on the board or projecting it and the course identifier on the front screen, and chatting with early arrivals about what class they have come from or anything else that would indicate your interest in them
  • Ask students to perform a small activity to break the ice, such as having students take two to three minutes to write down words and phrases that describe their feelings on the first day of class
  • Comment on your own feelings to break the intimidation factor and help your students feel comfortable in your class
  • Learning names is a start, but students are probably even more interested in you than in their classmates, so give them a chance to ask you some questions
  • Question posting is a method of getting students involved and active that can be used in classes of all sizes
  • Asking students what they wrote helps them realize that you are genuinely interested in what they have to contribute
  • In presenting the syllabus, you give the students some notion of the kind of person you are
  • Give them a chance to have input and to be sure that they understand what you expect
  • A large part of students' motivation in the classroom situation is directed toward the grades they hope to get for this course
  • The simplest way to show your students that you are objective and fair is to let them know that you are willing to meet and advise them
  • The most important characteristic determining student learning is prior knowledge
  • Ask students to take two minutes at the end of class to write their reactions to the first day
  • The balance between content and other activities is one that different teachers will decide in different ways 

Do Your Job Better

  • Bring a pencil, a piece of chalk, and a piece of blank paper in your pocket. That is all you need for the first class, you don't want to overwhelm your students on the first day
  • Don't read off the syllabus on the first day, instead just talk to your students about what you expect and try to get to know them
  • Relax, because tension and anxiety could be your downfall
  • Take attendance but don't use a roster, raising hands does not help face recognition
  • Take out the piece of paper and make a seating chart, asking people for their names and why they're in the class. Pay attention when they talk
  • As you take notes, pick seven students whose names you will remember right now. Your short-term memory can easily handle that number with the sort of priming that you just did, even under the pressure of the first class
  • Calling on your first seven not only creates a chance to connect with the students in question, but also puts everyone on high alert. 
  • Anyone who has studied for a vocabulary test knows that repetition, writing, and using words is the best way to anchor names in memory. 
  • You should be aiming for 10 to 12 cold calls for each class session—just enough to make it normal. Always start a cold call with the person's name. And, at the risk of stating the obvious, always ask a question that the student can reasonably answer
  • Review the seating chart and the notes that you took as soon as you leave your first class
  • Picture your classroom and imagine the faces that go with the names on your chart. This exercise is an extremely important, and typically overlooked, part of teaching that first session
  • Remembering names tells your students, whether they like it or not, that they are accountable, that they matter
DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.