Starting the Semester

The first day of teaching can set the fundamentals of a classroom dynamic for an entire semester. Setting off the semester on a good tone with reasonable standards and student involvement can go a long way to creating an effective learning environment. The list below is a selection of resources on topics for the first day of teaching.


  • Icebreakers – A post from this site with a series of possible icebreaker activities in the face-to-face and online classroom, both technology enabled and without technology.
  • 12 Icebreakers for the College Classroom – From The Ohio State University, a series of suggested icebreakers for a face-to-face classroom. The page also includes several syllabus related icebreakers.
  • First Day of Class Activities that Create a Climate for Learning – Via Faculty Focus, the article covers a few good icebreakers that are not seen on the other sites. These are also described in a bit more detail.

Setting standards & expectations

Introducing a class

  • First Day of Class – Via Vanderbilt University, a thorough guide on introducing yourself, the class, and your vision to your students. Includes information on creating an inviting environment, introductions, and setting standards.,
  • How to Teach a Good First Day of Class – From the Chronicle of Higher Education, an advice guide on bringing principles and meaning to your classroom on the first day and beyond.

Reviewing the syllabus

  • Empathic Syllabi Review Exercise – Via Faculty Focus, an article on using the syllabi of multiple classes to help students understand the requirements of a course and identify potential questions that can be answered, ensuring a good semester start.