Faculty Development Center

Five Things for the First Week

1. Introduce yourself to the class. Let them know how you prefer to be addressed (first name or last name prefaced with Dr., Professor, Mr. or Ms.). Share a bit about yourself, your educational background, where you grew up, your interests and passions. Above all, share your enthusiasm for your discipline and for teaching.
2. Introduce the syllabus and explain the learning objectives of the course. Go over course requirements and give estimates on the workload. Invite students to stop by your office and to post questions on the course discussion board.
3. Gather information about the students in your class. You can learn a lot from a questionnaire handed out in class or completed online. Ask students for: name (what they prefer to be called), hometown, campus address, email address, phone numbers and how they prefer to be contacted, year in school, participation in campus clubs and activities, chosen major. You may also want to know what courses they have taken already in this field, other courses they are taking this semester, reasons for enrolling in this course, career plans, hobbies and interests, and jobs/internships completed. Some faculty have asked other questions such as: How do you learn best? What do you most want to know about this course? Where do you feel strongest in preparation for this course and where do you feel the need for improvement? What do you expect to do with what you learn in this course? Some teachers ask students to write a paragraph about themselves and attach a photo. This can be emailed or printed out and brought to class within the first week of the course.
4. Learn students’ names. When you call roll the first day, ask them to correct your pronunciation and how they would like to be addressed. If you have small classes of 20-30 consider calling roll for the first few sessions. Try to call upon students using their names in the first week or so of discussions. If you make a mistake it can be a learning experience for the class and for you—and provide a laugh as well.
5. Introduce students to each other. Have students introduce themselves to the person next to them and then each pair introduces each other to another pair. Everyone should leave the first week of class knowing at least two other students.

Derived from Davis, Barbara. (2009). Tools for Teaching, 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publ.