The first few days of a new class is critical to how the class will go for the entire term. When you first walk in, you are outnumbered, and all eyes are on you. With this in mind, I have a few items that I do in order to setup a good class culture for the rest of the quarter:
- During the first day, establish a way for extra credit. This puts students in a frame of mind where they will be trying to achieve more, rather than doing less.
- Dress the part of an instructor. For me this means suits and ties. This establishes you as an authority in the classroom. Dress more casually LATER in the quarter, when it is important for students to perceive you as approachable.
- QUIET DISRUPTIONS IMMEDIATELY. If students start to be disruptive, put a stop to it. This is just setting a baseline for the rest of the quarter… but it is critical to establish early. If you wait until later to quiet people, then it will appear capricious.
- Grade the hell out of your first assignments. Even if it takes you twice as long as usual.
- At least half of teaching is entertainment, so start to establish your teaching style early. It is okay to be yourself.
And now for a random zombie question.
“You have sprained your ankle running away from fast moving zombies! You leave your house and limp away hoping to escape having your brain eaten at a rate of 2 ft per second. 5 seconds later the zombie leaves the house after you moving at 4 ft per second. How long do you have to get your shotgun loaded while running before you are consumed?”
I use these types of question when I’m teaching problems of motion… and I’m feeling just sadistic enough to wait until next week to answer this question.