UVA Acts: First Day of Class Checklist
As you prepare your syllabus and your first day of class, consider these inclusive teaching practices
Prior to the first day:
- Audit your syllabus with the Inclusion by Design Survey and make your course inclusive in tone, content, and pedagogy.
On the first day:
- Signal to students that you value them as individuals.
- Signal to students that difference is valued.
- Tell students that they belong in the course.
- Ask students to complete a “Getting to Know You” questionnaire (this can also be done as a pre-course assignment).
- Communicate your enthusiasm and explain why the content of a course matters to you.
- Explain different ways in which content of a course might be valuable for students.
- Give students an opportunity to articulate their goals for the course.
- Give students an opportunity to articulate their values as they pertain to the course content.
- Provide opportunities for students to introduce themselves to at least a few of their peers and converse with one another.
- Explain the overall structure of the course and your rationale for it.
- Explain what a typical class agenda looks like and why.
- Model the type of in-class activities that you plan to do throughout the course.
- Collaborate with students to generate expectations for dialogue and participation.
- Explain how to best study and prepare for the course.
Expectation of Success
- Normalize adversity by sharing your own or previous students’ struggles and how you/they overcame them (generally/anonymously).
- Reduce stigma around accessing support and/or student resources.
- Explain how to access student services, including CAPS and SDAC.
- Explain how to best use time during office hours.
- Explain why office hours are important/valuable.
- Articulate that everyone can succeed in the course.
- Step-by-step guide to an engaging and effective first day. (Lang, J.)
- Suggestions for activities and conversations to include for your first class session. (Weimer, M)
- Additional active learning strategies for Day 1 and beyond. (Berkeley CTL
- Verschelden, C. (2017). Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and Social Marginalization. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing. [Verschelden weaves together research and practice, considering how instructors and universities can reduce the achievement gap among students with marginalized identities.]
- Yeager, D., Walton, G., & Cohen, G. L. (2013). Addressing Achievement Gaps With Psychological Interventions. The Phi Delta Kappan, 94(5), 62. [This brief introduction to psychological interventions considers many of the reasons for and the practices of the CARE framework.]