Monday, August 10, 2009

Getting ready...

It's that time again! Summer grades have been posted, Fall syllabi have been copied (or preferably posted online - save a tree!), lesson plans are ready to go.

What? You mean you haven't done any of this?

Getting into the swing of things for Fall can be difficult, whether you're wrapping up from teaching a summer course or are coming back from vacation. But now is the time to get all of that work done, as a well-prepared course is sure to run much more smoothly than one you've jumped into on the first day back. (For you vacationers, think of the difference between a well-prepared dive and a belly flop!)

So here's your back-to-school checklist:

1) Prepare your syllabi. Use the handy syllabus guidelines found here. If you have questions, or just need another set of eyes to look things over, email your syllabus to us at A trained consultant will review your syllabus and send you feedback.

2) Check out your classroom. It's just awful to get stuck with a classroom that doesn't have what you need. Check out the rooms you will be teaching in and make sure they have the seating capacity, room arrangement, and technological support you need. Don't just look to be sure everything's there - play with the lights and the audiovisual equipment to make sure everything is in working order. Figure out who you need to call to fix things last minute or change the temperature in the room. If things are really bad, find out if there are any other rooms available that better fit your needs.

3) Prepare your lesson plans. I always like to go into the new semester with at least a few weeks of lesson plans ready to go. Lesson plans are important to get you off on the right foot, and keep everything running smoothly all semester. Don't know how to create a lesson plan? See our website for some helpful tips. Also, be sure to work in a couple of ice breakers so you can get to know your students early on in the semester.

4) Prepare your course website. Just about every course has some online materials, even if it's just a link to the syllabus and reading list. Get your website ready and ask a colleague or one of our staff members to review the site and make sure it's easy to use. If your course is fully online, make sure you have someone tour through it and give you feedback before it becomes available to students. Don't know how to put together a website? Check out the Technology Assisted Curriculum Center (TACC) - they offer beginner workshops and one-on-one help.

5) Send a welcome email to your students. Tell them a bit about yourself. Let them know if they need to prepare anything for the first day (e.g., buy the textbook and other materials, print the syllabus, visit the course website). Welcome them to thte course and let them know how excited you are to meet them all!

6) Breathe. The beginning of the semseter, especially Fall, can feel a bit overwhelming. But with a little preperation, you can actually walk into the first day of class calm, cool, and collected.

If you need more help getting ready for the first day, register for our workshop Preparing for the First Day (faculty only), or for the Annual TA Teaching Symposium (graduate students and undergraduate TAs only). All workshops are free for University of Utah faculty, students, and staff.

Photo courtesy of / CC BY 2.0

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