Teaching Tuesdays @CharlesSturtUni

Teaching Tips & Links for SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING

Issue 86 - Six Things for your First Class

February 25, 2020

There’s only one first class. Eager students, energised teachers and opportunities to do things that may not happen again in the semester. Here are some ideas for getting the semester off to a great start.

This week's topics:

  1. Five Strategies for First Day of Class

  2. ... and the Sixth Thing

  3. Learn More Teaching Strategies

  4. Our New Editor

Professional Learning Opportunities this week

MOOC: Contemporary approaches to university teaching. Available now.

If you are interested in enrolling, please contact ksmyth@csu.edu.au, or 02 6272 6270


1. Five Strategies for the First Day of Class

Title: First class: Five Things to Do on the First Day of Class

By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD

Source: https://www.teachingprofessor.com/for-those-who-teach/five-things-to-do-on-the-first-day-of-class/

Reading Time: 1 minute (4 minutes for original article)

Dr Weimer’s short guide suggests 5 goals we should aim to achieve in the first day of class.

1 Showcase course content.

The first day of class is the time for introductions, and the content should be among those things introduced. Establishing relevance and promoting intrigue can help motivate student learning right from the start.

2 Get students talking.

Maybe it’s a getting-to-know you ice-breaker, or some initial exploration of a content issue of interest to students, or a student discussion of what’s on the syllabus. The goal is hearing multiple voices in the classroom or online on the first day.

3 Be personable.

Begin the course letting students know that this is a course you want to teach (fingers crossed that it is) with content you love, and that you are there to help them learn.

4 Give students a reason to read the syllabus. Distribute the syllabus and give students five minutes to review it. Then put them into groups and give the groups five minutes to answer 10 questions about the syllabus.

5 Be authentic.

It’s about being true to your personal style right from the start. That doesn’t mean “doing what you’ve always done” on the first day. It’s good to change things up, make improvements, and step outside our comfort zones a bit.

The PROFESSIONAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES AND RESOURCES section below has details about how to get FREE access to our Magna Publications quality Learning & Teaching resources subscription.


2. ...and the Sixth Thing

Title: The Appreciative Close: A Strategy for Creating a Classroom Community

By: Dr Shawn Vecellio


Reading time: <1 minute (2 minutes for original article)

Wrapping up the first class is a great opportunity to set expectations and start building a community of learners for the coming months. In this article Dr Vecellio suggests embedding a culture of appreciation and describes how he introduces his students to the ‘appreciate close’ on the first day of class. He outlines how he closes each class with an opportunity for students to acknowledge each other’s contributions in terms of how those supported classmates’ learning.

For example,

  • “Thank you, Jake, for directing your question to the entire class rather than directing it to me alone.” Or,
  • “I appreciate you, Jesse, for offering your personal experience that helped make practical sense of the concept we discussed.” Or,
  • “Hannah, thank you for the thoughtful handout you provided us on today’s reading; the connections you made to other texts were particularly valuable for us to recognize.”

In subsequent class sessions, he lists the appreciative close as the final activity on the agenda for the day and urges students to keep that in mind throughout the class in case they would like to offer thanks to a classmate when the time comes.

The PROFESSIONAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES AND RESOURCES section below has details about how to get FREE access to our Magna Publications quality Learning & Teaching resources subscription.


3. Learn More Teaching Strategies

MOOC: Contemporary approaches to university teaching

The free teaching induction MOOC, Contemporary approaches to university teaching, provides key introductory learning and teaching concepts and strategies for those in their first few years of university teaching. The self-paced MOOC is comprised of 11 expert-developed modules and several specialty modules and resources. Participants are encouraged to engage with the MOOC for two hours a week across the semester. However, the MOOC can be used as a just in time, just for me resource and used as and when needed. Topics include:

  • Planning for learning,
  • Supporting online learning,
  • Feedback for learning,
  • Curriculum design, and
  • Scholarship of Teaching

If you are interested in enrolling, please contact ksmyth@csu.edu.au, or 02 6272 6270

image source: Contemporary approaches to university teaching, Module 1


4. Our New Editor

We have a new editor! Welcome Sally McCarthy

The first issue of the Teaching Tuesdays@CharlesSturtUni bulletin was sent to all academic staff at Charles Sturt in March 2018. This 86th edition marks the changeover to a new team, headed by Editor Sally McCarthy. Best wishes from the outgoing team, Ellen McIntyre (Editor) and Dr Kogi Naidoo (Founder) as you carry forward the vision to provide current and practical information for busy teachers to augment their practice and support their career development.

Most of our subscribers are Charles Sturt academic and professional staff. We also have a growing national and international audience, especially from our Twitter feed. After building from a slow start, we now regularly have more than 100 views for each bulletin. Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of reviewing the statistics is that all of the bulletins back to Issue 1 still have new views each week as we attract a new audience and as existing readers return to favourite topics.

Some highlights from the last two years:

  • Issues: 85 (to February 18)
  • Subscribers: 134
  • Twitter followers: 133
  • Most popular: Issue 61 - 7 Indispensable Strategies to Build Community in Your Online Courses; Issue 81 - Preparation for a Brand New Session; Issue 67 - Secrets of Highly Effective Feedback; Issue 34 - Assessment Alternatives
  • Main themes (in no particular order): Feedback, Online, Assessment & Learning Outcomes, Course & Subject Design, Engagement & Motivation, Diversity, Collaboration, Academic Development, Academic Integrity, Teaching Strategies & Theories

Charles Sturt University Values (Insightful, Inclusive, Impactful, Inspiring) are important drivers of teaching excellence at the university and they are included in the annual EDRS review for all academic staff. Each issue has included a link to one of these Values - see a list of the links in Issue 74.

Thank you to our loyal and encouraging readers from the last two years. We wish you every success in your teaching and careers going forward.

Kogi & Ellen

Implementing the CSU Value INSIGHTFUL in your teaching.

In living the value of Insightful we act respectfully and perceptively to seek to understand why people think and behave in the ways that they do. An insightful approach means we remove ambiguity, we are each clear and agreed about our goals and actions, and we better position ourselves for success.


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1....Teaching support resources at Charles Sturt
2....Links to previous bulletins

3....Professional Learning at Charles Sturt
4....Magna Publications Subscriptions
5....Bonus resource - LinkedIn Learning



1. Teaching support resources at Charles Sturt

You have access to a range of quality Charles Sturt University resources to help you incorporate educational resources and techniques into your teaching. Check out the following:


2. Links to previous bulletins

Charles Sturt University Learning & Teaching Newsletters

Division of Learning and Teaching: DLT News

FoBJBS Newsletter: BJBS-News

FoA&E Newsletter: NeXus

Click below to download a list of Teaching Tuesdays@CSU topics

4. Magna Publications Subscriptions

All staff with a Charles Sturt email address have FREE access to our subscription to these high quality learning and teaching resources.

Video seminars: Mentor Commons (20 minutes) and Magna Commons (40-90 minutes).

Text-based resources: The Teaching Professor (for teaching staff) and Academic Leader (for those in academic and administration leadership roles).

How to subscribe: There is a single Charles Sturt subscription code to access all four of these resources. Staff with a Charles Sturt University login can obtain the code and subscription instructions from this Yammer or What's New link.


5. Bonus resource - LinkedIn Learning

All Charles Sturt University students and staff members have access to LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com). This online subscription library provides high-quality instructional videos with the latest business, creative and software skills and an extensive range of teaching tips.


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Teaching Tuesdays@CharlesSturtUni Contacts

Division of Learning & Teaching, Charles Sturt University

Teaching Tuesdays@CharlesSturtUni bulletins are edited by Sally McCarthy
Lecturer, Academic Development in the Division of Learning & Teaching at Charles Sturt University