Kicking off a class is like the start of a game - the tip-off in basketball, kick-off in football or opening move in chess - it doesn't determine the outcome, but a good start sure helps and it can set the tone of the event.
Here is my kick-off ritual:
Name: Company: Background: XXX for the course topic Goal for the course:I really emphasize the "goal" part - I'm trying to figure out what THEY expect from the course. That way if there's a mismatch between their expectations and MY expectations, I can deal with it at the very beginning of the class. And that mismatch happens far more often than I would like - I've even had to completely scrap the materials for an entirely different course after introductions. As each student introduces themselves, I write their name (usually just first name) on my seating chart. Then, I summarize their background and goals on the chart. After each student introduces themselves, I say "Thanks, YYY" and try to pronounce their name, giving them an opportunity to correct my mangled pronunciation.
Since I've been doing this so long, this really has become a ritual, but even so, I always sketch out a summary of this process on a piece of scratch paper so I don't forget anything. That helps me focus for the start of the class, and also helps calm the butterflies that inevitably start fluttering in my stomach, even after all of these years.
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