The First Day

Dressing the Part

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 11:28am

How you choose to dress on the first day is determined largely by how you wish to present yourself to your students. You can present authority, be relaxed, or find a median point between the two. For the first day, many experienced TAs recommend dressing professionally. Your students will be expecting this, and through years of conditioning will naturally defer to your authority and presumed expertise so as long as you perform the role of instructor in accordance with their expectations.

Choosing Your Props

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:58am
The tools you use to transport materials to and from the classroom as well as the supplies you use when interacting with your students can influence their appreciation of your role as the instructor. While some TAs are not particularly concerned with the supplies they use in class, others are concerned carrying a backpack might make them seem the same age as their students (often especially a concern for younger TAs). If you are looking for another way to enhance your professional appearance and subtly establish authority, you might consider the following supply suggestions from a TA.

Preparing Your Script

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:53am

Preparing what you are going to say and practicing it is a good way to feel more confident in front of your students. Try going over your script in front of the mirror or a friend. When we say "script," we aren't trying to imply you should have every word worked out and memorized---just having an idea of what you want to say, practicing it, and maybe having some bullet points will go a long ways towards a smooth first class.

What's in a Name?

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:52am

Deciding what your students should call you can be difficult. Below, we've listed the options and common thoughts on/concerns about these choices. Ultimately, go with what makes you feel most comfortable.

Mr./Ms./Mrs. Last Name

Many TAs ask their students to call them by their last name. This formal approach can help foster respect in the classroom, and often times younger TAs appreciate it as a tool for setting boundaries between themselves and their students.

Calming the First-Day Jitters

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:51am

Nervous? You are not alone. Popular surveys conducted over the past few years show that the fear of standing in front of a group of people to speak is consistently one of the highest-ranked fears in the United States, often even higher than the fear of death (and snakes). While teaching your first class might be different from, say, giving a lecture at a political event or a speech at a wedding, the anxiety caused by so many pairs of eyes all fixed on you can feel very much the same.

Intros and Ice-Breakers

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:50am

Getting to know a classroom full of people can be a real challenge, for student and teacher alike. Everybody’s new, uncertain, and maybe a little hesitant to be the first to “break the ice.” Then again, class time is limited and there is a real need to get to know one another in a short amount of time. There are a number of fun ideas out there, or perhaps you prefer to come up with something more uniquely you. Either way, here are some tips and ideas to get you started.

Tips for creating a good ice-breaker activity:

The Syllabus

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:50am

Ah, the syllabus. Some view this particular document as a course plan; others, a contract between instructor and student. Still others might look at the syllabus as a necessary evil, placing limitations on creative freedom and course development. However you feel, most instructors spend a good portion of the first day (or days, sometimes) going through this document, explaining expectations and goals for the course. Standing next to a projector screen or holding a copy and reading, verbatim, everything written on the page is so common that it approaches a trope of college life.