The First Day Matters
What you do on the first day of class makes a difference. We may know this intuitively, but there is also quite a bit of research showing that teacher behavior correlates with student attitudes, motivation, and performance (Wilson, 2007). No class period is more critical to forming students’ attitudes towards learning than the first day of the term.
The first day of classes can be stressful for both faculty and students. Taking a sociological view, Dorn (1987) characterizes this class period as an encounter between strangers who are not yet part of a group. This is especially true for first-year students, for whom everything and everyone is new. The following ideas will help you manage first day jitters (both yours and your students') while meeting other important goals for the start of your course.