Classes reconvened in the middle of this past week. Since mine happen to all fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays this term, I only had one meeting with my students. The first day. Should I call it the dreaded first day?

Those classes got me thinking about day one actions, particularly because of the difference between how exciting these classes will be (they’re fun! popular! with wait lists!) and how exciting day one was not (eyes glazed as I go.over.the.syllabus).

In fairness to myself, the latter parts of each class weren’t bad. A definitional freewrite in one course set the stage for the work we have to do, and also revealed to me that students are generally enthusiastic about the subject matter but also have more or less no experience with it. A collaborative writing exercise in the other class worked well, got the class going a little, and also helped me gauge their skills going into the term. But the first half hour of the class drives me nuts: the syllabus.

I feel like I have to do it. Students want/need/ought to know what they’re facing, right? Get a feel for the nature of the class. Hear the overwhelming accumulation of the term’s assignments. Understand what their class-prep responsibilities are.

This day also sets the stage for the term, and I don’t like that I’ve made it into a perfunctory, blah, policy-dominated class. I want to be exciting. I want to have them leaving class saying, whoa this is going to be the most awesome class I’ve ever taken and I’ll put all my energy into it and man I feel sorry for the poor saps not in this course.

Sure, I could go the typical route: smoke machine, Pink Floyd lasers, thumping soundtrack. But I’d like to think up something fresher.

Ideas?

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