Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Chapter 1: Teaching the First Class

The prospect of teaching probably scares, bewilders, and excites you, or some combination of all three. That’s understandable, particularly if you’ve never taught before. You’re optimistic, naturally, but you’re also anxious about what you might discover when your students come through the door for the first time, and you know that they’re anxious too. There’s no question that the first class is an important one—it’s your opportunity to establish the basic goals and expectations for the course, as well as to set the tone for the semester. The advice in this chapter is meant to help you establish a connection with your students and start off the course on the right foot.  Remember, though, that there is plenty of time in a semester to reset your course, so don’t put too much pressure on the opening days.