It’s natural to feel nervous the first time you teach; even many veteran teachers feel nervous the first day of the semester. Think like a concert pianist or an actor—transform that nervousness into productive energy. Here are a few points that might help:

  • Make sure your handouts, including the syllabus, are complete and that you have extra copies.

  • Practice your first-day welcome and the “substantive” teaching that you plan to do. Planning substantive teaching for the first day can help set the tone for the course and allow students to get an understanding of what the course will be like. 

  • Arrive in the classroom early and organize all your handouts, presentation materials, etc. Make sure you can access and know how to use any technology.

  • Write the day’s brief outline on the board or put it up on the doc cam or as the first PowerPoint slide.

  • Your students expect you to be a content expert, but this doesn’t mean that they expect you to know every answer to every question immediately.

  • At any point during the semester if you can’t answer a question, acknowledge that, thank the student for asking the question, and assure the class that you will find out the answer before the next session. Then make sure you do. On the course ICON site or at the next session, provide the answer, the source of the information, and explain how the information relates to the course.

  • Encourage students to keep asking questions.