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The first class is a great opportunity for faculty/instructors to set the tone for the rest of the semester.

Here are some suggestions for creating a welcoming, positive environment. 1/12

@AcademicChatter #AcademicTwitter #TeachingHigherEd
1. Show up to class early. Get set up and then use the remaining time to individually introduce yourself to students. Shake hands, tell them your name, ask their name, and tell them you are happy to have them in the class. Repeat for as many students as time permits. 2/12
2. Start the class by conveying your enthusiasm for the subject and their presence in the class. Pose a question about *why* the subject matters and have students have a paired 2 minute chat about the answer. Call on a few students to respond. Ask and then use their names. 3/12
3. If you use active learning, start in your first class. E.g., have students complete a group activity about the syllabus, in which they work as groups to find answers to common questions in the syllabus. It is an icebreaker and gets students familiar with the course. 4/12
4. Let the students know a bit about you in relation to the class. Why do you care about the subject? What is your research about and what else do you teach? What excites you about this course? When you started learning the subject as an undergrad, what did you enjoy? 5/12
5. Outline the course learning outcomes and explain how the course structure and assignments relate to these outcomes. Take the mystery out of the course design and provide a roadmap for the semester ahead. 6/12
6. Be very clear about your expectations for the class assignments. This is a source of anxiety for students, so spend some time on this. Take a moment to have students add due dates and reminders to their phone calendars. If you use rubrics, take students through them. 7/12
7. Invite students to your regular student hours (office hours). Tell them that this time is dedicated to them, that they can show up as often as they like, and that you are happy to see them in this time. Share the times and location. Encourage them to use this time. 8/12
8. Start engaging with challenging class material. Send a clear message that ALL classes are important to attend. Introduce a key overarching idea for the course and explicitly link it to the course learning outcomes. Get students excited about their learning. 9/12
9. Pose questions and encourage student engagement. Ask students their names and then use their names in your responses. Aim to call upon a diverse group of students without putting anyone on the spot. 10/12
10. End the class with a reflective activity. Ask students to write down one thing they learned in the class, one thing that excites them about the course, and one thing that concerns them about the course. (Optional: have them hand it in to you.) 11/12
Learning can be an intimidating experience for many students. By setting a positive, welcoming tone, by letting students know that you value their presence in the class, and by clearly outlining your expectations, you can reduce student anxiety - and your own.

Have fun! 12/12
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