The First Day of Class: Promoting Belonging from Day One

Sense of belonging is a key predictor of college students’ persistence and well-being (Gopalan & Brady, 2020). Instructors can promote that belonging through the creation of community in the classroom. This previous piece from the Cowbell (our CATL blog) outlines multiple strategies for fostering community, belonging, and trust in classes of all modalities and sizes.

It’s never too soon to think about the creation of community in your courses. Why not the first day of class? Well-known educator and author James Lang (2021) shared his thoughts on How to Teach a Good First Day of Class in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Read this engaging piece and learn more about the key themes he emphasizes for day one – curiosity, community, learning, and expectations – as well as concrete suggestions for achieving them. Looking for even more ideas? The teaching and learning center at Carnegie Mellon offers some great day one advice on everything from what to wear, when to arrive, and how to introduce yourself, through what information to collect from students, how to get them excited about the course content, and ways to establish a “culture of feedback.” Finally, getting your students interacting with one another (and talking!) on day one is important to setting the tone for the semester. If you are looking for some interesting icebreaker ideas to try, look no further than this piece from Ohio State.

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