Make plans for the first day
Find out who is enrolled
Check your roster on Canvas and/or LionPATH. In LionPATH, the course roster indicates students’ majors, minors, or Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) status. Knowing how many are majoring, minoring, or exploring majors (i.e., DUS) helps you tailor instruction. The number of students may change in the first week. You can view the Add/Drop list in LionPATH or Canvas People.
Write a first-day plan
Decide how to communicate a welcoming environment, establish the norms that you intend, and present yourself as someone who cares. Bring a lesson plan with prepared activities. If you want students to know how best to study, schedule time to discuss study strategies and metacognition; and provide an activity to practice. If you plan to run your course in a particular instructional format, set expectations by implementing this on the first day.
Determine how to address emergencies
Emergencies—small or large—are bound to happen each semester. Equip yourself and your students with knowledge about how to handle the most common situations. Consider modifying the College’s Emergencies slide template for use in your course, and make a plan to incorporate this information within your discussion of course expectations.
Use the first day to set tone and expectations
There is always at least a 15- minute passing period between classes. Allow plenty of time to set up before class begins. Consider establishing a comfortable atmosphere by chatting with students as they arrive.
Provide a brief introduction, including what you find most compelling about the subject. Also, consider sharing your own preferred pronouns and inviting students to share theirs with you via email, following Inclusive Course Design. Invite students to introduce themselves, including a question that they have about the course or a fun fact about themselves. On a printed class roster, make notes on the pronunciation of students’ names.
Ask students to look at your syllabus as you review it. Many students will not read it on their own. Refer to course objectives and expectations. This will help students understand the goals that you hold for them. If you intend to discuss study strategies, provide a context of how many hours outside of class you expect students to spend on your course. A general rule of thumb is two hours outside of class for each hour spent in class. Ask students to look at your syllabus as you review it. Many students will not read it on their own. Refer to course objectives and expectations, including expectations for emergency situations. This will help students understand the goals that you hold for them, as well as the context for learning and for safety.
Facilitate a sample activity
Ask students to engage in a sample activity (a small group discussion, a primer lab activity, a written response, a whole class whiteboard exercise, etc.) to preview the kind of activities that you will use during the semester. Robust engagement from students throughout the semester is more likely to occur when instructors set the stage for interaction in the first week, including on the first day.
Remain in the classroom to answer students’ individual questions about the course, the material you introduced, or other logistical concerns they may have.