Your first day of anything could be frightening. First day of teaching is even worse, especially if you have no experience.
In order to tackle your anxiety is to first make sure you know your material. I found that once I started talking, everything just flowed freely. Even today, my first day is always nerve racking, mostly out of excitement. On my first day of teaching, I arrived 5 minutes late, so that I wasn’t there waiting for anyone, and I could get right down to taking attendance. I allotted about 15 minutes to talking about what I would be teaching, and any administrative topics regarding the course. During the first 15 minutes is where you set the ground rules. I made the mistake initially to initiate a military type of instructor persona. I never felt comfortable my first semester, because I wasn’t being myself. If you try and emit someone you’re not just because out of fear, you won’t feel right teaching throughout the semester. I wish I could take back that semester and do it again, but hindsight is 20/20.
You should also watch out for assignment lateness. If you start giving in to accepting late assignments, then you will be grading papers on the day grades are due. I juggled with being too lenient on my second semester and it blew up on my face.
Before your first day of class, you should practice your lecture to an empty classroom. Practice is important, especially since it is your first day, and feeling prepared is the best attack against nerves. Another way to attack your anxiety is to talk to yourself, either in the car, or just walking in, and say “This is me being nervous, it’s just an ocean of nerves, it will just pass through”. I have found that is a great way to attack nerves.
Your first day can be broken down to the following:
- Introduction of yourself – Don’t list your credentials or how important you are, just say “Hi, my name is X, and this is Y Course. Welcome, and I am very excited to be here, because this is my passion.” Something along those lines.
- Go over the syllabus, and administrative topics, number of exams, quizzes, assignments. Make ups.