Monday, 8 September 2008

Tips and Ideas for the First Day of Classes

Για όσους μπαίνουν πρώτη φορά στην τάξη αλλά και για όσους έχουν ξεμείνει από ιδέες...!

One of the most important class days is the first. The first day can excite students about the class, calm their fears, and set their expectations for the semester. The first day is an opportunity for the teacher to get to know and begin to evaluate students and to express expectations for the semester.

1. Be Early
Be early for class, even if only a few minutes. Being early allows you to arrange the room the way you want to and to make sure all the necessary equipment is there. Write your name on the board.

2. Be Accessible
When your students have arrived (or, frequently, as they are arriving) introduce yourself. If you use a nickname, explain what it means and why you use it. Give them your e-mail account and tell them they can practice writing by sending you messages.

3. Class Rules
Talk about class rules. Students need to know what the absence and homework policies are. If you don’t allow cell phones, it’s easier to deal with it on the first day, rather than address it when it occurs. You may have to address it then, as well, but you laid the ground work on day one.

4. What’s Happening?
Students should be told about school opportunities. Some schools have drama or pen-pals clubs. If your school offers ESP classes, tell the students. Advise students of study areas if there are any. Asking students what they expect and want from class not only gives you ideas of how to tailor the class to your students needs, but it starts them talking. Show students the textbooks and tell them where they can buy them. This will ensure they have the right books. However, if possible, don’t jump into the book the first day. There are other introductory activities that can be used to get students talking to each other.

5. Introduction Games
There are a myriad of introduction games to get to know students and to get them talking. Very
simple ones, such as introducing yourself and telling an interest, with the next person repeating the information and adding theirs, works well with lower level learners. A variation of this is to toss a ball, or other small object, back and forth, with the person catching providing the information. Interview games are sometimes better for students too shy to speak in front of groups. Prepare a list of questions, such as “Who can play piano?”, “Who can say ‘good morning’ in German?”, “Who has one brother?”, and have students walk around and interview each other to gather the information. All the time you are doing the exercises, you should be evaluating the students. Who has a good command of grammar? Who spells well? Who is shy or outgoing? You can use all of this information during the semester.

6. Thank Students
Finally, thank the student for enrolling in the class. This is a simple thing, but in the first days of class, when a lot is happening, students need to know they are appreciated.

7. Closing Comments
Remember when you were a student starting a new class. You wanted to know who those people next to you were. You wanted to know who the teacher was and what was expected of you. And you wanted to know where the bathroom was. Following this plan,οr a similar one, will answer your student’s questions and help you to get to know them better and faster.

(source: eltnewsletter, Vol VI. No.1, 2008)