Teaching & Learning Tip #18: Rock Your First Day of Class!

January 16, 2018

Tip #18: Rock Your First Day of Class!

What do you remember from a “first day of class” as a student? Did you know that the first day of class sets the tone for the rest of the course (Nilson, 2003)? As you enter your classrooms on the first day, consider some of the following tips to set the tone for the learning space.

Communicate prior to the first day of class

  • Send an email that welcomes students and invites their energy to the learning environment. Include a brief ‘welcome video‘ to help them get to know you before class begins
  • Offer an online Syllabus Quiz, a brief overview of the course, expectations, materials, etc., so that students already have a sense of what is expected on the first day and can jump right into an icebreaker

Create an inviting, inclusive classroom

Be authentic and get to know your students

Establish expectations and requirements

  • Describe the learning outcomes (what do these really mean to the student?)
  • Share expectations of you as instructor
  • Provide opportunities for feedback at regular intervals to help students know where they are ‘at’ in their learning

Contributed by Kim Vincent-Layton, Center for Teaching and Learning


Desrochers, C. G. (2008). Making your first class meeting truly first class! CSU Institute for Teaching & Learning.

Lyons, R., McIntosh, M., & Kysilka, M. (2003). Teaching college in an age of accountability. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Nilson, L. (2003). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (2nd ed.). Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.

Be sure to see other T&L Tips on the CTL website at: https://ctl.humboldt.edu/content/teaching-and-learning-tips