The First day of Class
When you first meet your students you will need to
- introduce yourself
- introduce the course: the syllabus, your expectations for attendance, assignments, the grading policy
Research shows that a positive and supportive classroom environment has a strong impact on student learning. In the long run, you will accomplish more in the classroom by spending some time, especially in the first few classes, creating a comfortable environment and establishing rapport with your students.
How can you create this comfortable atmosphere?
- Tell about yourself
Students want to know about you. You can talk about your country, how long you have been in the U.S./Bloomington, why you chose IU, your opinion of IU and Bloomington, and perhaps something about your interests and hobbies. Be sure to write your name on the board and tell students how to pronounce it.
- Establish your credibility
You want to be sure the students know your background in the field you are teaching. They want to know about your expertise in the subject. They also want to know that you are enthusiastic about teaching.
- Be open about your English skills
It is a good idea to be upfront about your English skills. You can acknowledge that you have an accent, but you also need to tell the students what to do if they don’t understand something you have said. (They can ask you to repeat. They can ask you to write the word. They can talk to you after class.)
- Demonstrate that you are approachable and willing to help
It is important that students feel comfortable approaching you with questions. Make it clear to students that you will be available to help them. Tell them about your office hours, if you will be available a few minutes before or after class, and/or if you will be available by e-mail.
- Demonstrate an interest in the students
While maintaining a position of authority, you want to be friendly and open with the students. Perhaps you can ask them a few questions. For example: "Who is from Indiana?" "Where are you from?" "How many students are taking this because it is a required class?" If you are comfortable you can use irony or humor: "How many of you just love Chemistry?"
- Learn your students names and how to pronounce them.
Refer to your students by name when you call on them in class or answer their questions. Knowing names is important for building rapport and demonstrating interest in individuals. You can give out name tags for the first few sessions. You can make a seating chart. In a lab setting, you can walk around and greet each student and clarify how to pronounce any difficult names.