Written by Stephanie Whalen, Chair, Academy for Teaching Excellence & Associate Professor, English and Interdisciplinary Studies 

What does your first day look like? Our former Academy chair, Pearl Ratunil, sometimes asks students to write about they wanted to be when they were 10 years old and then facilitates a lively discussion as students share their early ambitions; she reveals to her students that she wanted to be a writer at that age. I begin each new class by asking students about any challenges that may pose as barriers to having a successful semester and have them write it on an attendance card to share as part of introductions; I describe my current challenges to them as well.

How do you find out more about your students and their individual needs in the first days of classes? Part of guiding students is allowing them to see us as individuals who have aspirations and struggles of our own in addition to learning more about them as individuals. Please send your strategies for sharing a little of yourself and getting to know about students to academy@harpercollege.edu so that we can compile some ideas and create a resource for those looking for new ways to start off class with a personal touch. We will add them to “Getting Ready for Your First Day” on the Teaching Resources page on the Academy website. I’m looking forward to getting to know more about you and your teaching!