Friday, August 24, 2012

Making contact

We've all read those studies that show that students make up their minds about professors in the first 90 seconds and don't really change those opinions for the next 16 weeks.  That's not something we can do anything about, really--they'll think what they're going to think. What the first week of class boils down to is not just introducing the syllabus and material but figuring out how we're going to relate to the students.

So we try to make contact with them, even if it's a larger class. In addition to trying to learn their names (which I can never do the first week, of course), I try to get off the stage (the dreaded "sage on the stage") and talk to everybody a little bit. Handing out syllabi individually, instead of passing them down the row. Making a seating chart and thus making individual eye contact with them.  From the number that come up after class just to exchange a few words, they want to make contact, too.

This isn't much, compared to what we'll be doing later, but it's a start.


Spanish prof said...

In my upper level classes, I don't care that much about first impressions, because students either already know me or know my reputation. I can't distribute the syllabus because for saving costs, the Dean asked us to submit it to the students ahead of time and have them print it. But in my lower level, language classes, I usually introduced myself saying: "Hi, I'm Dr. SP, and I'm from Argentina. My goal this semester is to convince you that soccer is the best sport in the world, and that American football cannot compare to it". I have a few other one-liners, but that usually relaxes them enough to start the semester with a good attitude. And I usually learn their names by the end of the second week.

undine said...

Spanish prof, I like that introduction! I try to learn their names by the end of the second week but can't always manage it.