Gain Control on the First Day of Class

Edited by Florence I. Edim, Lynn

3 Parts:

The first day of class is always a moment when expectations are challenging. The first impression sets the mood for the entire semester and students are so blatant in their reactions whether they will take your subject seriously or not on the first day of class. If you don't want to make a bad impression in the first moment of class, the key here is PREPARATION. Use the first day of class to your advantage so that you can create a culture or atmosphere that is conducive to learning. Make the first day a moment to spark confidence, and to make students feel comfortable and engaged because you have a clear target in mind of what they will achieve if they continue to be motivated in class. Here are some pointers for you to prepare for the much anticipated first day of class:

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  1. 1
    Link the outcomes of your subject to the future profession of your students
    Outcomes are clear manifestations of skills, knowledge and attitude that you want your students to acquire from your subject matter. These outcomes are tested not only through teacher made assessments, but also through industry standards assessments because they are essential components to the students' future professions. When you prepare your syllabus, lesson plans or instructional plans, you have to begin with an end in mind. If you have a clear target, then it is easier to build the content of the lessons. In your thoughts as a teacher, you should ask yourself this question first, "What is the contribution of this subject matter to the knowledge, skills and attitude of my students in their future profession?" An ordinary math teacher with a clear vision may claim, "I want my students to master measurement conversion so that in the long run they can build blueprints with precision. Then they will become confident enough to handle complicated designs and structures as future architects because they have a strong foundation of measurement and conversion." By first forming a clear vision of the outcomes, you will become more confident to face your students on the first day, knowing that your subject, even if it's a minor subject, is essential to the well-being of these future professionals.
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  2. 2
    Creatively plan to sell the outcomes of your subject on the first day of class
    We place emphasis on creativity in instilling to the students the great transformation that they can achieve through use of your subject matter. If you fail to articulate the relevance of these outcomes to their future professions, then it will be difficult to motivate the students to accomplish their tasks. Therefore, you must rely on your own creativity and innovative abilities to sell the outcomes of your subject on the first day of class. An academic writing teacher, on the first day of class, showed picture of her former student who had become a successful executive because of her strength as a confident writer. As she showed the picture of her student she relayed stories of how this graduate was hired immediately because of the strength of her application letter. This student became a supervisor because she can make great proposals and memorandums, then became an executive because she can transact business in the international community using her strength in academic writing. Then the teacher discussed the fact that this young executive enjoys a lot of financial freedom compared to her contemporaries because, once in her life, she took academic writing in college seriously.
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  3. 3
    Discuss the syllabus clearly so students will be aware of their task as learners
    A syllabus is a contract between the teacher and students, so be clear with all your instructions, and discuss their tasks to achieve learning. You can also include house rules in the syllabus, which depends on your teaching style. Make sure to place emphasis on explaining the grading system in the first day of class. In this way, they should know that you have a clear evaluation procedure and that any form of favoritism is not permitted in your class.
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  4. 4
    Arrive at class earlier than your students
    Conquer your students' first impression of punctuality by being the first one to come to class. In this way, you can reinforce punctuality and attendance as important components of learning. Industry desired attitude is one of your learning outcomes, and companies prefer to keep employees who are punctual. That is why you have to integrate this value on the first day of class.
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  5. 5
    Provide time to gauge the students interests and insights
    You can call them one by one to introduce them and their expectations from the class. Make sure to be keen and sensitive to their suggestions to achieve a harmonious relationship. Knowing their insights will help you determine if you're successful in motivating them toward the outcomes you want your students to achieve in class. You will also get to know your students' goals and weaknesses.
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  6. 6
    Provide time to introduce yourself in a manner that will allow the students too gain a good impression of your authority in the class
    You do not need to flaunt unrelated details about yourself. You just have to relay relevant information of your educational attainment, years of teaching experience, why are you were selected to teach the subject, when your available times for student consultations are, etc.
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  7. 7
    Make the first lesson very engaging
    The teaching strategy that you prepare should always be student centered. There should always be "Aha!" or amazing moments when you discuss the first lesson. There are various ways to begin the lesson. You can:  
    1. Begin with a case study
    2. Make it inquiry based
    3. Encourage collaborative learning
    4. Use videos to supplement your lesson
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  8. 8
    No matter what kind of strategies you use, the first lesson should encourage great participation and communication between students and teacher
    In this way, you are providing the road map of the next lesson.
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  9. 9
    End the first day with clear instructions for the students tasks for the next lesson
    This can be done by providing worksheets or supplementing online sites so students can access tasks for the next lessons and even communicate with the teacher for consultation. The sites, Facebook or even Yahoo groups are best avenues for supplemental learning online.
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  • You can assess how successful you were on your first day, if in the next meeting, students are still motivated and have come with their prepared tasks on hand.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : Communications & Education

Recent edits by: Florence I. Edim

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