Preparing for the First Day of Class

"The first day of class sets the tone for the rest of the term... It is your opportunity to convey your enthusiasm for the material and stimulate students' curiosity about topics that will be covered during the term... create a relaxed, open classroom environment conducive to inquiry and participation... let students know what you will expect from them and what they can expect from you and the course" (Barbara Gross Davis, 1993).

Here are some tips to help you plan and to facilitate a successful first day of class. 

Create an Inviting Classroom 

Introduce yourself, talk about where you are from, you family, education, your teaching experience, etc. Be personable!

This gives students some background information about you and allows students to identify with their professor's intellectual journey, triumphs, frustration, and failures, encouraging students to be similarly reflective and candid.

From the chapter "How Do They Treat Their Students" in Ken Bain's What The Best College Teachers Do (Harvard Press, 2004)

Establish what you will provide them with in order to succeed in class

Course Overview: Explain what you expect them to understand at the end this course. Let your students know what aid you will be giving them (Ex. study guides, handouts etc.)
       - Do they need to bring their textbooks to class? 

Inform them on the best way to communicate with you.
       - What are your office hours?
       - The time(s) at which you are available 

Provide your students with enough information so they can plan accordingly.

Discuss Course Expectations and Requirements

Explain what is expected of them in and outside of the classroom. Make students aware of policies on absences, make ups, emergencies, grades, etc.
       - What is your policy for quizzes and tests?
       - If attendance is required?
       - Is participation mandatory?

Give your students an idea of what they will need to prepare for the course outside of class.
       - How much time (on average) should they dedicate for this class?

Explain the use of eClass and how to locate it.
       - Are there online assignments to be turn in?
       - When are they due?
       - What is Turnitin?

 " Teachers and students want the same thing on the first day—a good course, a positive constructive learning environment, [and] the chance to succeed."
- Maryellen Weimer, PhD

Center for Teaching. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2016,

The First Day of Class: A Once-a-Semester Opportunity (2015). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from