The First Day of Class

The first day of class is one of the most stressful days of the year--for students, and for instructors, too.

Students find out how impossibly much the instructor wants them to read and know by the bitter end of the term.

As an instructor, I have to be completely organized and ready. Got enough copies of the syllabus? (I hope so.) Remembered to get the secret codes that let me log on to the classroom computers? (Check.) Have the keys to unlock the drawer to get the keyboard and mouse out. (Yup.) Updated everything in the course for a new term? (Er, well, I'm working on it...)

Just the syllabus alone represents hours of work. It's the blueprint for the whole term, dictating deadlines for things like papers and exams. That means I have deadlines, too: I've got to get the exams to printing well before the exam date (weeks ahead during busy times of year, in fact). I've got to make updates to my lecture notes in time to put the notes online. (Yeah, I could just leave the lectures as they are, but then they'd get stale, like a day-old donut.)

Because of the stress on all sides, I don't start lecturing on The First Day of Class. I like students to have the lecture notes printed out first, for one. And even the textbook, if possible (even though you don't have to bring it to class). And then there's all the rampant course-shopping that often occurs. (I hate having to repeat my whole First Day of Class schpiel on the second day of class to people who won't be back for the third day of class anyways.)

After the exhausting First Day of Class, all that's left is...the rest of term.

Why aren't you studying?


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