Posted by: awapter | September 14, 2010

The Pivotal First Week–Creating Community in the Classroom

Establishing the  environment where students can succeed is a key factor in the first week of class.  At yesterday’s Faculty Focus plenary session on “Power, Privilege, and Inequality”, a common theme in the group report-backs was learning more about students so we can treat them as individuals.  This is a major factor in establishing a positive learning environment, but it is important to realize that there is no simple formula to accomplish this.   From the student’s perspective, if every instructor began with the same introductory exercise, the entire effort would quickly be stripped of its authenticity.  Part of the challenge is to integrate aspects of your specific class into the community building strategies you employ. 

This Fall TLC will host a series of informal conversations related to the ideas and initiatives that are essential to learning at the highest level.  The first topic will be “The First Week of Class”–and we will do this, well, the 2nd week of class :).  This will be a time to share succesess and concerns, to learn from colleagues about best practices and to trouble-shoot how to do it better the next time.  The conversations are scheduled for Noon-1:00 p.m. on Monday, September 27 and from 5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m on Tuesday, Sept. 28.  Both meetings will be held in GHL 207.



  1. I also wonder how to get to know our students in way that honors them and respects boundaries and privacy. I am eager to hear about particular strategies my colleagues employ. I ask students to fill out a brief questionnaire about why they are taking this math course and what do I need to know about them to meet thier learning needs.

  2. I’m super excited about the start of fall quarter! I use a variety of exercises to break the ice in my classrooms. This quarter I plan to utilize a collection of photographs available at the TLC. The collection consists of hundreds of 8×10 photographs of various objects, places, people and activities. I place several dozen of the photographs face up around the classroom and have students silently walk around viewing them and ultimately choosing one to use as a visual aid as they introduce themselves. This activity is interesting and challenges students to be creative yet lets them self-disclose at a level at which they feel comfortable.

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