Linda Nilson: Leading the First Day of Class

In this week’s update on the Forums, a prospective professor said that she wants to be well-prepared for her first day of class as an instructor.

“Things I would like to work on are being more relaxed when presenting information, managing my time better, and facilitating better,” Jamie P. writes in the New Year’s Teaching Resolutions topic.

Jamie P., who is getting her Master’s in English Arts at Rutgers University–Newark, is participating in ACUE’s Course in Effective Teaching Practices. Although she has not yet taught formally, she said that she knew that being a quality instructor was something that would be important to her career in higher education.

“I noticed that the biggest thing is they want teachers who can teach really well,” she says of colleges and universities seeking to hire faculty.

Dr. Linda Nilson, the founding director of Clemson University’s Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation, is a featured subject matter expert on the ACUE’s  module for Leading the First Day of Class. In an interview, Dr. Nilson said that nervousness is something that all novice instructors have to manage as they get started. But one way to reduce some of those nerves is to be overly prepared on the first day.

“That first day for less experienced instructors can be pretty scary. There’s the fear of stage fright. And that’s something that we all started with, but we got over it, and also there’s just a general sense of anxiety. You don’t know who these students are, who you’re going to be ‘living with’ for three, four months, you don’t know what they’re going to be like or how they’re going to take to you. So there’s a lot of concern. You can get rid of a lot of those concerns and those anxieties if you run that first day well.”

“Visiting your assigned classroom prior to the first day of class to see how it’s set up is among the many ways instructors can get acclimated,” Dr. Nilson says.

What are your teaching resolutions for the new year? Register and join the discussion on ACUE’s Community Forums.

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