10 Ideas for a Great First Day of Class

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
— Will Rogers

Research shows that students form their opinions about the instructor and the class in the first 15 minutes. So plan this first interaction with your students carefully.

  1. Visit the classroom before the first day and try out the technology, microphone, lights, etc. Contact ITS Classroom Services if you need assistance 294-8026.
  2. Arrive early, greet students as they arrive. Engage students in some light conversation
  3. Project a PowerPoint, or write on the board, the course and instructor as students are arriving. If using PowerPoint, consider posting an image or something that represents the discipline covered in the course to catch student interest.
  4. Share some information that will personalize you – your teaching experience, your family, an anecdote from your undergraduate learning days, or whatever you are comfortable with self-disclosing. If you have graduate teaching assistants, introduce them and let them tell something about themselves.
  5. Provide a syllabus that details learning outcomes, expectations, procedures, course schedule, etc.
  6. Clearly state your learning outcomes for the course and your expectations of the students in order to succeed in the course. You may want to mention why you think the course is relevant to their lives and their learning.
  7. Clearly describe classroom procedures that are important to you such as expectations for attendance, class discussion and active participation, respect, grading policies, plagiarism, etc.
  8. Set up clear communication strategies for the students. These could include when you will have office hours, the best way to contact you, e-mail parameters, phone policies, etc.
  9. Do some type of interactive activity or open discussion the first day. This will engage the students right away and show your expectation of interaction.
  10. Let your students see the enthusiasm you have for your subject and your love of learning.


Discover practical tips for this semester. Check out the latest tips below, browse by category for specific kinds of tips, or share what’s worked in your classroom on the Pedagogy Unbound website.