For a university teacher, the new year starts when he gets a new batch of students to inspire, stimulate, persuade, and educate. He always remains jubilant to enter the fresher’s classroom for the first time to catch a bright start because this classroom is the future lab for him where he gets a chance to experiment with new practices.
Although what should be the role of a teacher in his first session with a new batch of students is unsettled. Still, to my limited understanding, for a successful, effective & efficient teacher, the following considerations be kept in mind while entering the fresher’s classroom.
The first day of a semester is vital for a teacher on many fronts. It gives him an opening to introduce himself to establish a level of familiarity with students. He should set a give-and-take ambiance in the very first meeting through the ice-breaking session so that students remain comfortable even into subsequent classes. Here, a teacher should be patient enough to listen to get the psychological picture of the students. He should invoke questions and concerns from students at the beginning of the session.
The first session also gives a teacher a chance to know the level of students and to set the tempo for the semester. He, therefore, should decide to draft the first session to cover all planned goals, including to meet the requirements of the course, and should get a clue about the needs and aspirations of students. Thus, after setting the goal, he should decide what he intends to accomplish during the course of study. He should introduce the course content and highlight the prospects of the course.
A teacher should have some academic activity for his students in the first session itself. This will set the tone for the whole semester, and it can give a message to students that in his class, he directly gets down to business (academic activity). He can begin with an unstructured questionnaire or an interest inventory to know his students better. He should develop a sense of responsibility among students by giving assignments on the very first day. He should also seek information from new entrants about their study habits individually, and if any adjustments are needed, he should guide them on the spot.
A teacher can also conduct idea-generating, brainstorming session to develop varied perspectives. He should distribute an inventory of unsolved problems, dilemmas, or real questions currently relevant to the subject and tempt students to argue and deliberate upon.
Students should feel secure from a teacher who wants to help his students in every sphere of their life. He should be able to help them to make a successful shift from college to the university; for that, he should create the mood in his very first class where students feel a visible difference on various quality parameters of transaction and delivery viz a viz their earlier institution. His first interaction should be full of wisdom that should help in identifying the spark to light it with full-bloomed intellectual radiation.
He should be able to set the differentiated pace of learning among neophytes. From the very beginning, he should be able to actively involve students in learning new knowledge and build a sense of social -fabric inside the classroom.
A teacher should hit the ground running on the very first day by handing out a user-friendly curriculum. Here, a teacher should inform students how much time they need to study for the successful completion of the course. He should hand out the curriculum transaction strategy and the academic calendar to the students to remain informed well in advance about various components of the course to be completed during the academic semester.
He should also inform students about institutional rules like attendance, assignments, class tests, presentations, practical, internship, project work, evaluation procedures, and general demureness and guide them how best students can maintain these. He should highlight the implications of academic dishonesty to students to remain conscious about its consequences and costs.
He should give a feeling to students that their teacher is flexible and ready to change by providing them a chance to present alternative or differing views of any concept or theory, which will help them to develop divergence and out of the box thinking.
A successful teacher, while entering the classroom, should look less teacher and more a researcher. He should be able to stage a ‘change-your-mind’ debatewith students so that attitudinal change among students becomes visible. To develop research curiosity among students, he should talk about his current research interests and the findings of his previous research/s. If a teacher wishes his students to develop more attraction towards the subject/discipline, let them see the passion he has for his subject and love of learning.
In the first session itself, a teacher should also convey the importance of an institutional library. Students should be made responsive that it is an indispensable part of the student’s life. In their first meeting, students should be advised to take full advantage of the library available as they can read the material beyond their concerned subject, which is now essential and pre-requisite in a choice-based curriculum with an interdisciplinary/ multidisciplinary setting.
To conclude, Universities of the country are in the process of admitting students in different courses and students remain very anxious and nervous on the first day of the new course. They are fearful about the teacher, the class, the curriculum, and so on. It is the teacher’s responsibility to help students to be relieved from the worries they encounter by joining a new institution and should try to find out the expectations of students from the class and the course and try to elicit their own goals for learning. Teacher himself should be willing to learn from what goes on in the very first class; his observations shall infuse research intent as an innovator, curriculum driver, agent of campus change, and director of his own professional development.
DR. MOHAMMAD SAYID BHAT is Sr. Assistant Professor at Central University of Kashmir.