During First Class

teachers talking and smiling

Student Connections

Connecting Students: The more students feel connected to each other and to the university or college the more likely they will come to class and have peers they can work with during class. Use ice-breaker activities to help students get to know each other, but also allow you to learn names.

Use low-risk activities that do not require much planning and will immediately engage students. By focusing activities on fun facts and favourites, students will feel comfortable to participate (e.g., do not ask students to stand up in class, introduce themselves and tell what program or year they are in, or what they hope to get out of the class – this can make some students very vulnerable and embarrassed).

Course Overview

Students come to class to learn something and the first class is an opportune time to get started. This is a great chance to model how you will excite them about learning!

Here are some ideas:

  •  Slideshow of Images/Text/Audio
  •  Practical Examples/Relationship to Career/Courses
  •  Tell a Personal Story
  •  Concept Map

Engage in Course Activity

As soon as you have presented an overview of the course, be sure to engage students immediately. This will serve as a model for students to know what to expect in your course and how you will run the class. Here are some suggestions:

  • Case Study
  • Misconceptions Questions
  • Question and Answer
  • Diagnostic Quiz
  • Worksheet Activity

Explain Expectations

Setting expectations with students is an appropriate thing to do during the first class. These expectations are more general and not often in the course syllabus. Try not to sound like the 'heavy enforcer' when you discuss these expectations. Students want to know you have some guidelines but you don't need to come down hard the first class.

Course Outline

Ensure you briefly cover the syllabus. A well-constructed syllabus should stand on its own. Ensure your syllabus has course expectations, contact details, assignment/test dates and percentages, along with details on textbook and academic policies.

Bridging to the Next Class

Ensure you have a proper ending to the class – rather than realizing you are out of time or telling students you have nothing else and letting them go early.

The ending of the class can be so important in establishing a positive feeling with students and reminding them of what the course will be about.

The final moments of the class should recap the big ideas and focus on what the next class will entail. You want to excite students about coming back and share with them what will be covered in the next class.