Well, it is doing just that. Going. It’s rough. There’s never enough time in the day to do everything that you need to do. At least once a week I forget about something. During the first two weeks of class I generally forget about at least one assignment for each class. Who ever told professors it was ok to assign homework the first day of class? Professors like this make what should be a transition week known as “Syllabus Week” full of syllabuses and class expectations, perhaps even a light reading assignment for the next week, but this semester has not been like this at all. This semester has been the roughest starting semester of my LIFE. Day 1 I was ready to drop out of college and move back home, because holy shit is this stressful and I’ll be damned if I’m going to bury myself in debt to be stressed beyond reason. Day 2 I was searching other colleges that are significantly cheaper, but realized I would be homeless if I somehow could transfer, and I am still, in no financial standing to suddenly uproot my life. Week two of school I knew that this semester was going to be rough and I called my mom and told her that she was going to have to come pick me up to bring me home for summer because I already knew I wasn’t going to be able to afford to fly myself home.
Enough about my stressful first two weeks though. I never want to be a teacher that stresses my students out in the first ten minutes of class. I realize that college is supposed to be predatory for the “Real” “world,” but no person should be put under that much stress on their first day. So, I want to give a suggestion for you and myself as educators:
- Welcome your students in. Be stern the first few minutes if you feel it necessary.
- Introduce yourself. Make yourself do an ice breaker.
- For the love of goodness: do not make your students do ice breakers. I’ve been doing ice breakers in every single class I’ve had since 7th grade, and I am tired of it.
- Find some other way to learn your students names, like a seating chart.
- Hand out your syllabus and explain any tiny details.
- Tell them were your freaking office is LOCATED.
- The number of times I have had to ask a professor were their actual office is located is ridiculous. And make sure you ask the student if they have an idea of were that building/hall is. If your office is in a liberal arts building and your student is a math student and never been in the liberal arts department, make sure they know. Because finding buildings you’ve never been to is hard enough.
- Explain the grading system, and if there are any assignments that aren’t worth significant points, tell them that. Do not let them think that every single word they write on a homework assignment is critical. And don’t make them feel like if they fail one quiz they aren’t going to do well in the class.
- As a person who has consecutively failed at least one or two quizzes in every class, I can tell you, it’s going to be ok, and I wish my professors had told me that.
- Tell your students how the class is going to go.
- Don’t leave them hanging. I would even recommend telling them about what your test format is going to be like, and if there is a source on campus that they can go to to see old tests for examples like we have here at CSU, TELL THEM. Old tests have saved my life, because if you have an idea of what to expect you know what to study and you will do better, and maybe you’ll be slightly less stressed.
- Tell students what is expected of them, but do not speak to them like it’s an end of the world broadcast and you are the only news broadcaster and you have to get to the other stations in six minutes to tell that area. So, don’t speak in any sort of panicked and/or quick tones/speeds.
- Let them go.
More to come. Signing off.