"You don't get a second chance to make a first impression."
  - Anonymous

"A good beginning is worth more than money."
- Russian proverb

It's the first day of class. You are the professor. You waited for this all your life, or maybe you've taught dozens of classes already. You've written a syllabus, the copies are in your hand, you practiced that opening welcome in front of the mirror all morning. You're smiling, head held high, confidence oozing from every pore. You reach down, pull on the door knob and open the door. Your students turn and look. You begin to walk in, but the aisle has turned to sand. You look up and notice the students' shock; many are quickly looking away, up at the ceiling or down at the floor. Your gaze moves to the floor in front of you, and you notice you are naked.

Ever had that dream? Most of us have had some form of that dream at some point in our professional lives. We can't guarantee that good preparation will eliminate the possibility of nightmares, but we can promise that good preparation will increase your confidence, make classroom management easier, increase student confidence in their understanding of what is expected and generally make for a more successful learning experience.

What do we mean by preparation? Faculty often come to their first teaching position with the impression that sophisticated knowledge of their subject matter and a desire to share that knowledge are sufficient tools for successful teaching. While these are vital components, the detailed mechanics of teaching play an equally significant role.

Teaching is an "intentional" art. Good preparation can make a world of difference for you and your students. Research shows that what you do in the first two weeks of classes sets a tone for success or a semester filled with distracting problems.

In this module we'll help you think through some of the factors that contribute to successful planning.  You'll learn about making a positive first impression, as well as selecting a text and preparing handouts. Keep in mind that you want your students to see you as a competent professional from the very beginning. But, they also want to see you as someone to be trusted, someone they can respect.

Other 4faculty modules will offer further recommendations for preparing for the first few days of class. The authors of this course believe that those modules are as helpful to senior faculty as they are to those just starting. You may wish to revisit those sections each semester as we are always adding new ideas and new templates for your use.

- by Andy Howard and Kristina Kauffman


This module contains the following main readings:

  1. Planning for the First Day of Class
  2. Making a Good First Impression
  3. Textbook Selection



By the end of this module you should be able to:

1. Gather information about your students and their class expectations.

2. Create a positive first impression on students and engage their intellectual curiosity about the course.

3. Select a text for your course and apply the basic rules of copyright in creating ancillary materials.


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Knowledge Check

One essential activity for the first day of class is to:

A. establish command and control.

B. complete all student adds and drops.

C. delve directly into the course content.

D. get personal histories from each student.