The first day of teaching for a college instructor can be nerve-wracking. There are so many different things to learn, and it is virtually impossible to know everything there is to know on your first day. In most cases, you learn as you go and just hope there aren’t too many major catastrophes along the way.
Despite the uncertainty of teaching, you don’t have to step into the classroom completely clueless. Many college instructors have gathered several gems for new teachers and are eager to share their insights with you. Here are a few tips to help you get through that first day on the job:
Get involved in the school. Show a genuine interest the college sports where you teach. It’s important to take pride in the larger school community, and watching college sports with your colleagues can be a lot of fun.
Don’t show up for work without a ribbon lanyard. These are so useful for helping you keep your keys and external memory devices on you at all times. They can save you from having to backtrack to the office because you forget the slide presentation file for an upcoming lecture.
Have plenty of copies of the syllabus, and double- or even triple-check it for any errors. You don’t want your students pointing out typos and misspellings. Also, make sure you verify the dates of exams and due dates for assignments. While most schools generally specify what information should be included on the syllabus, here a few of the most common requirements:
Divide lectures into smaller chunks. Most professors opt for about 20-minute segments. This will give your students time to discuss and debate topics as they are presented. Active learning is a popular method of instruction that keeps students motivated.
Alongside these general tips, it is a good idea to consider your audience. At the college level issues with discipline and classroom order can be a little sticky. You may find it difficult to assert your authority, particularly with non-traditional students who are older than you. Look for help from a faculty mentor or ask your department head to observe a session if you feel the problem is disruptive to the class. Mentors can be very valuable resources, even after you have a couple of semesters of teaching under your belt.
If you ever have a problem or concern related to your teaching or to the university’s policies, you should immediately bring it to the attention of your department head or superior. Finally, most college professors will tell you to relax and enjoy the many small success that come with teaching today’s young and eager minds.