Classes begin tomorrow. How do you spend your first day of course? Share your ideas in the comments. My resolution for the first day:
1. Focus the first day’s discussion on the big ideas of the course. What will we be thinking about? What sorts of intellectual problems will we tackle? How will our knowledge grow over the duration of the course?
2. Talk about best practices. What will it take to be successful in this course?
3. Do NOT talk about grades. The motivation toward grades is different than the motivation toward knowledge. Grades are an external reward, whereas knowledge is an internal reward. Research has shown that those students who focus on external rewards have a “bulimic” nature in their pursuit of knowledge: they strive to absorb it quickly for the exam, but it is quickly lost after the evaluation.
4. Do NOT talk about the syllabus, beyond best practices and objectives. Tell them where they can read it, and perhaps a statement about what is included. But the majority of the syllabus is not interesting, and we don’t want to frame the class in terms of rules that have nothing to do with the ideas of the course. This is especially true at the City Colleges, where we are required to include more and more policies and directions that are identical to each course and not relevant to the course material.