Welcome to our new instructors at IU! We hope that you are settling in well and looking forward to meeting your students this week. In this post we share strategies and tools for making the start of the semester as productive as possible for you and your students.
Prepare your Canvas site
We highly recommend that you upload your syllabus and set up your assignments before the start of your class. Many students start planning their semester workloads early on, so providing them with assignment dates from your class right away helps them plan their time.
If you set up assignments in Canvas, the system will automatically create your gradebook, list assignment due dates on your students’ Canvas calendars, and reproduce these due dates at the bottom of the syllabus tool. You can also let Canvas take care of gradebook calculations such as dropping the lowest grades in an assignment group, weighting groups of assignments, etc.
One of our Instructional Technology Consultants can review your Canvas site and make sure that your grades are being calculated accurately. Don’t forget to publish your Canvas site and assignments, otherwise your students cannot view your site or their assignments. You can review this Canvas Semester Checklist Pressbook from our colleagues at IUPUI’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Also keep an eye out for announcements on the Canvas Dashboard. The current one shares how to enable popular tools in Canvas.
Get to know your students before the first day of class
Making your students feel like part of a community from Day One encourages commitment to the course and sets the stage for engagement and success. Several tools in Canvas allow you to get to know your students before the start of the semester:
- Learn a few student names before the first day. The People tool lists all of your students and is updated daily. Use this tool to add your AIs to your course site. Click on the Photo Roster button to view, download, and print student names and photos.
- Name Coach allows you and your students to record names. This tool allows students to record the pronunciation of their preferred name. Consider creating a Name coach assignment in Canvas.
Plan your first days of class
Often we are so focused on getting ready for the start of the semester that we do not spend enough time thinking through the activities of the first day of class. Here are some suggestions:
- Visit your classroom and practice with its technologies. If you cannot visit it, search the Classroom database to see photos of your room and read about the resources available in it. This will help you plan some activities for the first day and the rest of the semester.
- Request automatic recording of your in-person classes so that students can review materials after class or catch up if they were absent. Learn more about and fill in the Kaltura Lecture Capture request form in the Knowledge Base.
- Set up Zoom rooms for meeting with your students early in the semester, holding online office hours, and for students who might need to attend class remotely. Learn more about using Zoom at IU in the Knowledge Base. If you will have students attending class in-person and online, read this Quick Guide filled with tips for Engaging Remote Students in Classroom Learning.
- Read our Quick Guide about Teaching While Masked for tips on warming up your voice and projecting without straining your voice.
- Communicate your expectations of students and review a few key points from the syllabus, but don’t read through the entire thing. Set the tone and give them some highlights, but let them deal with the details on their own.
- Engage your students in activities that give them a sense of why your course might be important to them, and what your typical class looks like. If you plan on having them actively engage in learning, let them practice that on the first day.
Read some more first day strategies on our website. CITL staff continue to write Quick Guides to Teaching about pressing teaching topics. You can also access Quick Video Guides on Teaching and Technologies from our colleagues at IUPUI’s CTL.
Hopefully these suggestions help as you start your teaching career here at IUB. Please contact us with any questions related to your teaching. We are happy to schedule a meeting with you. Also plan to attend some of our upcoming events.