Tips for the First Day of Class

Preparing for Class

Review the UC Berkeley Extension Instructor Hub. There are several videos and other resources in the hub that will help orient and prepare you. Before your the first day of class, we recommend the following videos:

Incorporate active learning into your course. Some helpful articles from the Center for Teaching and Learning regarding active learning include:

Design your syllabus. In the Instructor Hub Classroom Teaching Module, there are several resources, including a syllabus template (automatic download; enable your browser to accept pop-ups).

The First Day of Class

Be Early. Arrive 15 minutes early for class. Introduce yourself to building security staff and classroom support staff. Whether inside or outside the classroom, let students know that you are ready to talk with them: smile, nod, make eye contact, chat—whatever suits your style.

Shake Hands. This simple gesture is powerful. In a large class, greet a few. You will find that those who are welcomed are more ready to respond in class.

Make a real beginning to class. Not just on the first day, but every day. Don't say, "We might as well get started," or, "Let's get started." Try instead, "Good Evening, I'm [insert your name]. Welcome to [class title]."

Have students meet. Have students greet someone else in the class. Even if this ritual takes only 30 seconds, you should find that your class warms up considerably. Add some fun: Have students use greeting rituals from various cultures, or ask students to create and lead the class greeting.

Tell your students about yourself. Discuss your teaching-learning philosophy, demonstrate your mode of teaching, cultivate your students' trust, foster a spirit of free and open inquiry, display your enthusiasm for the subject and display a sense of humor.

Use an attention-grabber. Use a problem or a demonstration to capture students' imaginations about what is to come. Often, an intriguing example will provide a guiding context for the material that follows.

Discuss the course syllabus. Remember that Extension has very strict drop deadlines, and Extension students often have work and family obligations. Summarizing the course syllabus in class will set clear academic expectations up front so that they can decide right away whether they have the time to continue and be successful in the class.

Set expectations up front. Give clear examples of what an “A” grade is for assignments, classroom participation or group work. Establish ground rules for acceptable classroom behavior, interaction and academic integrity. Having these conversations at the beginning of class prevents issues later on.

Get to know your students better. Consider handing out a questionnaire, "pre-test," quiz or index cards to get to know your students better and help guide you in teaching them.

Don't run out of time. Have a real ending to the class, especially on the first day. Conclude with something like,"I look forward to seeing you again on Wednesday."

Additional Resources