Fall 2016: Getting Off on the Right Foot

This fall, we’re using the CNDLS blog to highlight the Teaching Commonsa compilation of resources and case studies designed to help faculty revitalize their courses and gain insights into practical issues in pedagogy at Georgetown. As a living resource, the site continually evolves to encompass new scholarship in teaching and learning, as well as technological innovations that are changing and enhancing the current teaching landscape. To help you explore all that the Commons has to offer, we’re showcasing tools and other information on a semi-weekly basis, guiding you through the semester in real time. Missed the other posts? Check out our takes on crafting a syllabus, leading discussions, evaluating learning, designing assignments, and active learning, then hear from fellow faculty in our interview highlights.

What’s the worst way to start the semester?

According to Kevin Gannon, history professor and director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Grand View University, the worst move is to treat the beginning of the term like something that doesn’t matter—just an opportunity to hand out the syllabus and then dismiss the class.


Instead, as he argues in “The Absolute Worst Way to Start the Semester, the first day is an opportunity for students to “get some idea of what’s expected of them throughout the semester, and also have the opportunity to discern their place in the class and its activities.”

At CNDLS, we couldn’t agree more. Check out Starting the Semester on our Teaching Commons for a host of ideas on how to get ready for the first day, make that initial encounter engaging and productive, and keep the good momentum going in the weeks to follow. Feeling like you have that material down? Keep exploring from there! The Teaching Commons offers thoughts and resources on a variety of issues that are bound to come up throughout the fall semester, including communication with students. We also recommend this crowd-sourced grab bag of “Jedi Mind Tricks” for teachers, recently posted on Vitae.

All the best as you get off to a great start this semester and—as always—let us know how CNDLS can help!