First Day Advice:

  • Remain confident that you have a lot to offer the students by just being yourself and that the students will be very interested in what you have to offer as they get to know you.
  • Consider having your first interaction with the students during a group activity (rather than a lecture) so that you can walk around helping groups out one by one. This way you meet the students in a more relaxed, informal setting.
  • Give a short presentation about who you are and why you're in the classroom. Keep in mind that they likely don’t know what it means to be a graduate student, so explain it to them. They’ll think you are just a student-teacher unless you convince them otherwise. They’ll get more out of your presence in the classroom if this distinction is made clear.
  • Be enthusiastic. The students will pick up on your attitude towards the lesson.
  • Engage students with a fun demonstration at the beginning of the lesson.
  • Connect the lesson to students’ lives; try to use real-life situations when possible.
  • Try to learn the students’ names quickly. It shows you care about them and is useful when discipline is needed.
  • Call on students to rephrase things in their own words – this can help you see if they’re understanding and can help the students improve their understanding.
  • Avoid the temptation to talk over students. Try a variety of ways to get the students attention.
  • When you wonder about something, let the students hear you think through it. Let the students see how you think as a scientist. When you notice something analogous to your lab experience, say so.
  • Don’t be afraid to say if you don’t know something.
  • Keep your teacher involved, interested, and excited about your lesson plans. If the students see the teacher engaged in the lesson, they’ll likely follow his/her lead.
  • At least periodically write your lesson plans with your teacher. You’ll learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t through this direct interaction.
  • Test things out in the classroom, be creative, and don’t be afraid to fail. If it doesn’t work first period, change it.