How should I tell my students to address me?

Instructor X, Dr. X or just your first name all work fine. It is a good idea to tell students how you like to be addressed during your first meeting.

How should I dress?

Of course you need to follow safety rules for dress code but aside from that dress how you feel most comfortable. Don’t worry if you dress casually, students will know you are the instructor.

How do I “break the ice” during the first class?

It is important that you set the tone you want to maintain in your class on the first day and there are many ways to achieve this goal. Often during the first class you might use a few ice breaker games to let students loosen up and start to feel comfortable with their classmates, however, it is also important that they get a chance to interact with you as well. It is not a bad idea to include you (and your TA) in these games and directly interact with the students.

What type and how much information should I reveal about myself in class?

The level of details you want to share is up to you, but it should still remain on a professional level. It is not a bad idea to decide where you draw the line before class. In addition to the instructor-related information, students enjoy learning a little bit about you as a person. Some ideas that have worked for other instructors include: pets, hobbies, kids, places you have lived, music, stories about your college experiences, random facts about yourself such as your favorite food and your favorite vacation spot.

Not all this information needs to be given on the first day, but sharing a little bit every class or throughout the semester can really help students feel comfortable around their instructor. You do not have to be or act as their best friend, but finding a way to relate to students in a professional manner makes it easier for both of you in certain situations.

How much work can I expect outside of class?

Let’s be honest, at times, it is going to be more than you expect, but it can be manageable if you stay on top of your responsibilities. The most time consuming aspect of teaching a laboratory is the time it will take grading their assignments. This requires excellent time management skills. Below are some tips that can help keep you on track!

Do not get overwhelmed with your grading load! Keep on top of it by grading assignments on a weekly basis.

One of the most efficient methods to reduce the grading load is to grade minor assignments (i.e. quizzes and worksheets) within 24 hours of the class. The reason for this is that the information is still fresh and you will not have to spend too much time rereading the assignment or thinking about the question. You will also have a better idea what kind of answers to expect from your students and that can help expedite the grading time. Larger assignments, such as papers, will take extra time (or even more time than expected) and typically are due toward the end of the semester. One of the worst feelings you can experience as an instructor is the overwhelming feeling of not having everything graded and knowing you do not have enough time. So, do yourself a favor and keep up with the grading on a weekly basis.

Who has time to write a rubric? Writing the quiz or assignment is good enough! (Said no efficient instructor ever)

Another great idea is to have a rubric written before the assignment is due. The benefit to having this prepared is that you already know what correct answer(s) you expect and will accept. This can help speed up the process because you will not have to spend time re-grading or deciding what is an acceptable answer as you grade. Note: Not all assignments will have rubrics with all the correct answers; such as the answer to question 1 is “B”. Some of assignments will be more open ended, but that does not mean that a rubric is unnecessary. It can still serve for a guideline as you grade and is addressed in a different section.