OIDSurviving the First Quarter of Teaching

On the First Day of Class
This section provides practical information about some issues to cover on the first day of class. Many first-time TAs are nervous about their first day, so having a well-planned step-by-step idea of what to do can ease the anxiety you may be feeling.

Following introductions, you should acquaint students with your academic background and the reasons for your interest in the subject matter/course. The goal here is not only to acquaint the students with your background but also to convey your enthusiasm for the subject matter and to establish credibility.

Communicate your goals for the discussion section. Explain to students whether they can expect sections to address new material or elaborate/clarify material covered in lecture. Ask students to articulate their own expectations for the course. Is there a specific area in which they seek to acquire knowledge?

Other points TAs should remember to cover:bullet Course requirements
bullet Workload your students can expect
bullet Whether and how participation will be assessed
bullet Point out critical dates (last day to drop, exam schedule, etc.)
bullet All important policies need to be put in writing, e.g. homework acceptance policy, late assignments, final exam date, etc.
bullet Mention that topics and assignments in the syllabus are subject to change
bullet Tell students how to address you (formally as 'professor' or familiarly as in 'hey Joe')

Much of this information can be put in a document to be handed out to students (sometimes called a "section policy sheet") on the first day of class. This document is not quite a syllabus, but it can help you to create rapport with the students, outlining policies and procedures that students and the TA will follow throughout the quarter..