Flip the First Day

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It’s almost impossible to read blogs, articles, even books on teaching without seeing a multitude of suggestions for not “wasting” the first day of class by covering the syllabus, course schedule, class rules and routines, and the like. I’ve even written one myself (Brown, 2009). What most people neglect to talk about, though, is how to cover the material students need to know to do well in the course. Beyond the legal reasoning for a syllabus, there are good reasons we lay out our course policies; some professors even see the syllabus as a place to put forth the overall argument for the course. Students need to see the overall arc of a class and where individual sections and assignments fit within that trajectory. While we might not need to discuss those assignments on the first day, students will have to encounter that material in some way on some day of the course.

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