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Advice for the First Day of Class: Today We Will

The first day of class is critical. What happens on the first day, even in the first moments, sets the tone for the entire course. The impression you make will last the entire semester, and today’s students are not shy about sharing their opinions. Most students will make up their minds about the course and the instructor during that first class period.


Reflections on Teaching: From Surviving to Thriving

Editor’s Note: In part one of this article, the author shared openly some of the mistakes he made early in his teaching career. In this entry, he outlines some of the changes he’s made to his teaching over the years and the principles he uses to guide his teaching.

I had known it all along at some level, but now it suddenly became glaringly obvious to me. Deep down, sometimes out of conscious reach, students want to be transformed and their lives made more useful, productive, and powerful. I added the following new goal to my personal mission statement:


Love the One You’re With: Creating a Classroom Community

It’s the first day of class. They shuffle in, spot similar life-forms, and slip in with that group. Hipsters sporting wild hair and tats, buttoned-up and serious young scholars, middle-aged moms and dads, maybe a couple of aging hippies. One or two sad souls choose spots isolated from the others; they don’t want to identify with them for reasons of insecurity, arrogance, or something else.


Cultivating Curiosity in Our Students as a Catalyst for Learning

There’s not much pedagogical literature on the topic of curiosity. In fact the article referenced here is the only piece I can remember seeing on the subject, which is a bit surprising because curiosity does play an important role in learning. One of the definitions offered in the article explains how the two relate. “Curiosity, a state of arousal involving exploratory behavior, leads to thinking and thinking culminates in learning.” (p. 53)


Digital Storytelling Brings a Human Connection to Online Education

Once upon a time people told stories to share experiences and to teach. With the growing popularity of distance learning modalities educator have been searching for ways to enhance social presence and reflective thinking in the online learning experience. The use of digital storytelling might be a strategy to bring human thought and emotion into online education.


Teaching Outside Your Area of Expertise

For most teachers, a room full of bright students is the stuff dreams are made of. Unless, of course, you’re teaching a course that’s outside of your area of expertise – then it can be a nightmare. You feel like an imposter, and worry that your students will call you out. You cram for each class like you’re back in school.


Learning Spaces that Facilitate Student Learning

As a college student, I always liked it when I had a course that met in Edwards Hall – if for no other reason than a lot of the classrooms in that building had theater-style seating with chairs that swiveled. The fact that I would remember that after all of these years is an indication of the effect a more welcoming learning space can have on students.


Making the Most of the First Day of Class

The first day of class is an important time. In addition to the usual housekeeping tasks that need to be accomplished, there are other critical functions of the first day of class – not the least of which involves setting the tone for the course.


Helping Your Learning Community Reach Its Goals

Learning communities come in all shapes and sizes. Some simply link courses and put students in a cohort; many go considerably beyond that to build a learning environment around core practices known to promote student learning. Some are new, while others have been in place for nearly 20 years. If you would like to take


PICM Feedback Model Helps Keep Online Students Motivated

In an online learning environment, it’s easy for students to feel isolated or unsure of themselves, particularly if they’re adult students who’ve been away from school for a long time. In the absence of frequent and relevant instructor feedback, these students can get discouraged and may even become reluctant to submit assignments. Soon satisfaction and