Beginnings are important. Whether the class is a large introductory course for ESOL students or an advanced course , it makes good sense to start off well. Students will decide very early – some say the first day of class – whether they will like the course, its contents, the teacher, and their fellow students.
The following list of “50 Things You Can Do…” is offered in the spirit of starting off right. It is a catalog of suggestions for college tutors who are looking for a fresh way of creating the best possible environment for learning. Not just the first day, but the first three weeks of a course are especially important, studies say, in retaining capable students.
1. Hit the ground running on the first day of class with substantial content.
2.Take attendance: roll call, clipboard, sign in, seating chart.
3.Introduce teaching assistants by slide, short presentation, or self-introduction.
4. Hand out an informative, artistic, and user-friendly guide to the course.
5.Give an assignment on the first day to be collected at the next meeting.
6.Start practical experiments and other exercises.
7.Call attention (written and oral) to what makes good practice: completing work to be done, procedures, equipment, clean up, maintenance, safety, conservation of supplies etc
8.Administer a learning style inventory to help students find out about themselves.
9. Direct students to the Learning Skills Centre for additional help with basic skills.
10.Tell students how much time they will need to study for this course.
11.Hand out supplemental study aids: library use, study tips, supplemental readings and exercises.
12. Explain how to study for the kind of tests you give.
13. Put in writing a limited number of ground rules regarding absence, late work, testing procedures, grading, and general decorum, and maintain these.
14.Announce office hours frequently and hold them without fail.
15.Show students how to handle learning in large classes and impersonal situations.
16.Give sample test questions.
17.Give sample test question answers.
18.Explain the difference between legitimate collaboration and academic dishonesty; be clear when collaboration is wanted and when it is forbidden.
19.Seek out a different student each day and get to know something about him or her.
20.Ask students to write about what important things are currently going on in their lives.
21. Find out about students’ jobs; if they are working, how many hours a week, and what kinds of jobs they hold or have held.
Directing Students’ Attention
22.Greet students at the door when they enter the classroom.
23.Start the class on time.
24.Make a grand stage entrance to hush a large class and gain attention.
25.Give a pre-test on the day’s topic.
26.Start the lecture with a puzzle, question, paradox, picture, or cartoon on slide or transparency to focus on the day’s topic.
27 Elicit student questions and concerns at the beginning of the class and list these on the board to be answered during the hour.
28.Have students write down what they think the important issues or key points of the day’s lecture will be.
29.Ask the person who is reading the student newspaper what is in the news today.
30.Have students write out their expectations for the course and their own goals for learning.
31.Use variety in methods of presentation every class meeting.
32.Stage a figurative “coffee break” about twenty minutes into the hour; tell an anecdote, invite students to put down pens and pencils, refer to a current event, shift media.
33.Incorporate community resources: plays, concerts, government agencies. businesses, the outdoors.
34. Show a film in a novel way: stop it for discussion, show a few frames only, anticipate ending, hand out a viewing or critique sheet, play and replay parts.
35.Share your philosophy of teaching with your students.
36.Form a student panel to present alternative views of the same concept.
37.Stage a change-your-mind debate. with students moving to different parts of the classroom to signal change in opinion during the discussion.
38.Conduct a “living” demographic survey by having students move to different parts of the classroom: rural vs. urban. consumer preferences…
39. Tell them about your current research interests and how you got there from your own beginnings in the discipline.
40. Conduct a role-play to make a point or to lay out issues.
41.Conduct idea-generating or brainstorming sessions to expand horizons.
42.Give students two passages of material containing alternative views to compare and contrast.
43.Distribute a list of the unsolved problems. dilemmas. or great questions in your discipline and invite students to claim one as their own to investigate.
44.Let your students see the enthusiasm you have for your subject and your love of learning.
45.Collect students’ current telephone numbers and addresses and let them know that you may need to reach them.
46.Check out absentees. Call or write a personal note.
47.Diagnose the students’ prerequisites learning by questionnaire or pre-test and give them the feedback as soon as possible.
48.Allow students to demonstrate progress in learning: summary quiz over the day’s work. a written reaction to the day’s material.
49.Reward behavior you want: praise, stars, personal note etc
50.Use a light touch: smile, tell a good joke, break test anxiety with a sympathetic comment.