Six years ago I started sharing my teaching tips as well as those of others on this site. I want to say thank you to all the readers who have commented on the blog or shared their own tips, questions, and links.
Just for fun: Here's me at my first teaching job in 1982 (Yep, I started teaching when I was ten...)
Each new semester as I walk down the hallway to my classroom, I am a little nervous, even after 30 years of teaching experience…and I’m okay with this. I think when I get to the point where I don’t feel this anxiety, I won’t be as effective a teacher. After all, I will be walking into that classroom for the next four months and it’s important to make a good first impression. Below are 10 tips to help you get off to a great start.
1. Develop your own routine before going to class. Take a short brisk walk beforehand. Twirl your wrists to gently shake the stress out of your arms. Relax your shoulders; people tend to “hunch up” their shoulders when tense. Do some deep breathing.
2. Check out your classroom before the students get there. Walk around and get familiar with the room, podium, how the seats are arranged, etc. Make sure you know how to work any technology you’ll be using.
3. The first few minutes are crucial. Your students are curious about you and the course. Everything (how you dress, walk, present yourself) are clues as to your personality and credibility. Walk briskly and with purpose into the classroom.
4. Chat briefly with the students as they come into the room to make yourself (and the students) feel more comfortable.
5. Act confident and enthusiastic about what you will be doing that first day. Don’t say that you are nervous as this makes the students uncomfortable and you will lose credibility with them.
6. Also, it’s best not to tell your students that this is the first time (if it is) that you have taught this particular course. You should know more about the topic than they do so they’ll assume you’re an expert.
7. Use notecards or form to gather information about your students (name, email address, past class experience with the topic, work experience, etc). This takes the focus off you and onto the task which gives you time to get comfortable.
8. As you begin, make eye contact with two or three people in various parts of the room. Learn their names and use them several times. You are essentially beginning to build a relationship with your students.
9. Be enthusiastic about being in the classroom so that they will be also. Don’t just stand behind the podium but move around and move toward them. Look happy to be sharing your knowledge with them.
10. Start with something that is easy for you to talk about. Tell a story you’ve told often before, read something that is relevant to the class from the newspaper, share something from your days as a student or talk to them about why you went into teaching. Above all, picture yourself doing an excellent job. It’s going to be a great first day of class!
Source: Kirk, Delaney J. (2009). 10 Tips for Dealing with Nervousness the First Day of Class. Faculty Focus, Magna Publications.
I have been posting to this blog for five years now and would love to hear from those who read this blog regularly but don't usually comment. Feel free to leave me a message or any question you might have.
Click here to see me in my first teaching job in 1982. And pass the cake and ice cream!
Are you new to teaching? Anxious about that first day of class? Here are some tips to help.
One of the problems with having teaching evaluations at the end of a semester is that you really don't get to see if what you're doing in the classroom will have a long-term impact on the students. Sometimes though you get feedback that makes you feel that you have been able to add value to a student's career. The following is an unsolicited recommendation from a former student of mine at Drake University that he posted on LinkedIn. Wow. This has made my day!
"During the Fall of 1999, Professor Delaney Kirk taught Human Resource Management (MGT 282) at Drake University, and I was very fortunate to be a student in her classroom, pursuing a Master of Public Administration. Without question, Professor Kirk was a masterful professor with incredible subject matter expertise in her area; I suppose we demand this expertise as students. There were several things that separated Professor Kirk from many of the professors, and made her stand out as one of the best professors I have had.
First, Professor Kirk was exceptionally enthusiastic. She truly believed that the information that she was teaching would make a difference in the lives and professions of her students, and ultimately in the world itself. I suppose all professors feel this way to a degree, but there is no question that Professor Kirk carried herself in such a manner.
Second, Professor Kirk was an outstanding time-manager. You would not want to walk in late to her classroom, or you would definitely miss something – and that something would probably be important. While she ALWAYS kept the class the entire three hour period, I don’t recall any of that time being wasted, but rather I really saw it as time invested. Professor Kirk was incredibly well-organized; her skills in this area should be modeled by others.
Lastly, Professor Kirk was very demanding of TEAMWORK in her class. The team requirements were challenging. It was not feasible to split up the topic area for each team member to research and provide feedback to others. In order to be successful in her team projects, the team would need to work together to achieve a quality product. I found that this team effort resulted in one of my more favorable learning experiences at Drake University.
I was thinking of Professor Kirk the other day when attending a seminar recently, where the topic of “being organized” was discussed. Professor Kirk was among the people who came to my mind at that time – so much in fact that I decided to find out if I could find her on Linkedin. I am glad to re-connect with such an outstanding professional."
Today's post: Students checking cell phone messages during class.
Today's post: How To Handle Questions From Students.
Today's post: Dealing with issue of student body odor.
Today's post: Things we do as faculty that irritate our students.
Today's post: Put together a list of FAQs that your students will have.
Today's post: Getting student participation
Today's post: How to handle unhapppy students.
And just for fun: Dr. Kirkcat illustrates professional dress for faculty.
Go here to sign up for free teaching resources from Chip Heath and Dan Heath including a copy of their article, Teaching That Sticks.
Today's post: How To Handle Students Texting In Class
Today's post: Tips and resources for putting together your syllabi
Today's post: Ten Tips to Setting Expectations The First Day of Class
One of my goals for my students is to get them to take more responsibility for their learning. I find the following a great homework assignment to give the first day of class.
Go to this free website and complete the 44 item Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire. Print out your results. Follow the links to interpret these and to find successful learning strategies that match your preferred learning style. Then write a 1-2 page (double spaced) summary of your results from the survey along with a list of things you plan to do in order to be more successful in this class.