As a student, I loved the first day of classes. As an instructor, I was excited, but I also dreaded the first day. The peculiar mix of excitement and apprehension is probably felt in different degrees by all students and faculty.
What is the best way to tackle the first day? There is so much administrative work to get done, but you also want to find out who your students are and what expectations they bring to class. You want to get them excited about the class, but you also need to cover basics, such as the topic and the general framework for the class. How can you accomplish all of these things in one class period?
Here are some good ideas: hear from a variety of instructors at a number of different institutions talk about what works well for them. The Merlot ELIXR project has created a thoughtful and entertaining set of videos (each one is around 5 minutes long) around the first day of class. You can find the videos here: http://pachyderm.cdl.edu/elixr-stories/1stday-slo/
The videos are accompanied by a set of very useful planning resources for your first day, which are available here: http://elixr.merlot.org/case-stories/course-preparation–design/first-day-of-class/goals-for-first-day-of-class7
Hear a music professor “set the hook” to motivate student interest; watch a physics professor lay out the framework for the entire class; listen to a graphics communications professor explore when and how to take care of administrative issues. Best of all, watch the race between cans of soup as the students debate which will roll down an inclined plane most quickly!
This Merlot ELIXR project is one of many useful teaching resources. Learn more about them at the following website: http://elixr.merlot.org/