Friday, September 2, 2016

First Day Confessions

by Meg Elias

At the start of every semester, I plan the perfect first day experience for my students.  I’m organized, ready to rock, agenda and class list in hand … seriously, I’m prepared.  So how is it that the first day is never actually perfect? 

Last Thursday’s mess included:

There were TOO MANY white board markers.  I know it’s hard to believe, but there were at least 35 of them, overflowing on the little marker ledge.  There were so many choices that I couldn’t pick a color, and when I finally grabbed a blue one, I knocked five others to the ground.

I wrote the agenda on the board, then turned on the projector …  and the projector was projecting over my agenda.  I had to erase it and move it to the other side while the students watched quietly.

I made a little name tent for myself to model what I wanted them to do, and it kept sliding off the desk.  I had to do on-the-fly origami to get it to stand up.

Going off script, I think I may have implied that getting a 2.0 was not good enough.  (I know, ouch.)

I kept trying to call a student by his last name, even though his first name was clearly written on his little name tent.

In seventeen years of teaching, I’ve never been able to work that “first day magic” that seems obtainable as I prepare for class.  Yet again, I managed to only achieve some degree of, “Phew, we survived.”  On the positive side, there were a few laughs (mostly at my expense), and almost everyone came back for class on the following Monday.   And that’s just going to have to be good enough.

If you have suggestions for blog posts or if you would like to share your first day confessions, email Meg Elias (, or stop by the Center for Teaching Excellence, TLC 324.