Things to Do Before Classes Start

Because so much time can be spent of preparing syllabi and lesson plans, a lot of practical things that are critical to a successful teaching and learning experience can often get overlooked. Here are a few items to take care of well before classes start:

• Get keys to the room(s) you will teach in, if necessary. ( I didn’t even think of this before my first day of teaching. Imagine my embarrassment when I couldn’t get into the room!)

• Order materials and supplies. Find out from the secretary or from other faculty in your area how this is done, and how it is paid for.

• Find out if there is lab/materials fee in your department. If so, how does it work? What do students pay for separate from any fee? What is paid for or supplied by the institution?

• Check out, clean and organize classroom or studio as needed.

• Upload course information on Blackboard or other similar site, if used by your institution. Be sure to make it available to students!

• Find out what the Add/Drop policies and procedures are at your institution, and any important deadlines related to that. Related to that are finding out what the maximum enrollment levels are for the class(es) you are teaching.

• Find out what policies your institution has for field trips. Some require students to complete a Field Trip Release form prior to going on an off-campus field trip.

• Find out how to access enrollment information for your class(es). The secretary should be able to provide you with this information.

• Find out how grading is recorded and submitted along with any deadlines at the the of the quarter/semester. Also look into the policy for awarding “Incomplete” grades.

This entry was posted in Practical Issues, Preparing to Teach, Teaching Practice and tagged , , by Jane Alden Stevens. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jane Alden Stevens

Jane Alden Stevens is a photographer and educator who is Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati. An active artist, Stevens has exhibited and published her work extensively both in the US and abroad. She is the author of “Tears of Stone: World War I Remembered” (2004). In the course of her teaching career, Stevens taught courses in film, photography, and professional practices for fine artists. Her interest in teaching practices was deepened when she started teaching the "Graduate Teaching Workshop", a required graduate level course for fine artists and art historians that prepares them to teach the courses they will later be assigned. She was also involved in the Preparing Future Faculty program at the University of Cincinnati, which prepares masters and doctoral students across all programs for teaching at the university level. She has conducted pedagogy workshops for a variety of universities, as well as participated in academic practicum panels at educational conferences. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, Stevens was honored with the all-university Cohen Award for Excellence in University Teaching at the University of Cincinnati in 2002 and Professor of the Year honors in her college in 2011.

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