Five Steps to a Successful Class Start!

Barbara Carder
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A good start is critical to a successful class. Modeling active learning right from the start will show students that they are in an interactive environment and will be expected to actively participate in the learning process.

Follow these steps to ensure that your class gets off to a roaring good start!

  • Display your name and the name of the class in a prominent place for all students entering the classroom to see, assuring students that they are in the right place.
  • Greet each student as they arrive for class. Introducing yourself, asking How are you?,and chatting for a minute puts students at ease, which may lead to enriched discussions in class.
  • Project a slide showing what they need to do as they enter the classroom. For example, do they need to pick up a handout, read the syllabus, make a tent name card, make a submission folder, complete a sign in sheet? Posting this information immediately puts them into action mode.
  • Post TODAY WE WILL information on a wall and keep it displayed throughout class. On that TODAY WE WILL list, write the agenda for the day. This lets students know what will be covered in class, providing a guidepost for both students and instructor. It’s a visual reminder of what will be worked on and what students will be responsible for in case they miss part of the class. The list will help motivate students to arrive on time and/or compensate for any part of the class they miss. It really works!
  • Get students up and active! Use an icebreaker activity to get students out of their seats and meeting the other students in class. Assisting them as they develop relationships with other students is time well spent.

At the beginning and throughout the class, show your enthusiasm for the subject matter and for the success of your students. Your enthusiasm will be contagious!

For more information on this topic, go to:

Clement, M. (2008). 10 things to make the first day (and the rest) of the semester successful.

8 icebreakers adapted for online student communities.

Garrett, J. & Clement, M. (2013, August 12). Advice for the first day of class: Today we will.

Weimer, M. (2016). 5 things to do on the first day of class.

Blog Category: 
Teaching Effectiveness