The first week of class sets the tone for the rest of the semester, so make sure your students feel comfortable talking and sharing thoughts. Here’s an interactive way to start a conversation: Have each student write down their thoughts about a discussion question on a piece of paper. A good first day question might be “What are you most excited about learning in this class?” After, have students crumple the papers and throw them in the middle of the classroom. Each student picks up a new piece of paper and reads the comments. They discuss in partners what they’ve read and then share their comments and conversations with the whole class. This activity is low-stress, since students work with other’s ideas.
A facilitator of one of our AI orientation workshops, Francesca, had additional thoughts about first-day preparations:
Q: What do you wish you had known when you were starting to teach?
A: I made too many assumptions about the sorts of technology students would be familiar with or have access to. I learned how it important it is to assess student familiarity with technologies and to build time into the course for demonstrations. This experience also pushed me to explore the resources available on campus, such as laptop carts and computer labs.
Q: How would you do your first class over again, now that you have experience?
A: I would find out three things: 1) why students are enrolled in the course (required? interest? exploring?); 2) their background experience with the topic (previous related courses); and 3) students’ learning goals and what they hope to gain from the course. This information can really help me adapt my teaching practices and curriculum to the audience. Answers to the third question can help me check in to see if I’m supporting students in meeting their goals. I want students to know that their contributions are valuable and that I will work to build their ideas into our “living” curriculum.
Come learn more from Francesca and our other facilitators at our upcoming AI orientation, where we cover a wide array of topics. Both new and experienced AIs are welcome. Still wondering how you’re going to get students to talk? We’ve got you covered. Still trying to figure out this Canvas thing? We designed an event for that. Feeling hungry and want some complimentary lunch and discussion? We can even help you out there.