Back when I was a student, I hated the first day of classes (aka Read the Syllabus Day). One semester I rather snarkily informed each of my professors how much I’d paid for their class that day, and that I didn’t feel as though I was getting my money’s worth when the day consisted of having the prof read the syllabus to me (especially because I had already rather-thoroughly perused the syllabus myself beforehand).
So this article about alternative First Day of Class activities struck a chord with me.
What I intend to do this year, which I am hoping will go over well, is to have students learn from my previous years’ students on the first day of class. At the end of last semester, I had each student write a letter “To a Future Student” in the class, and I will pass these out and have the students read them and discuss them as a class, which I will then use to launch into a discussion about class norms, expectations, and policies. I’ll then use that to lead into a brief overview of the class which will cover many of the items in the syllabus.