Timely Teaching Tips: Weeks 1 and 2 – Starting strong and connecting with students

By Emma Larkins, OSU Center for Teaching and Learning

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Spring term is here!

Daffodils and tulips are blooming. Sunny skies and rain showers come and go as temperatures rise and fall. It can mean only one thing – spring term has arrived. The start of a new term offers a renewed chance to connect with students and begin on a strong note. The following strategies touch on various elements of the new term, from Canvas set-up to your first class session. Good luck! (Even though we know you don’t need it.)  

  • Confirm Your Canvas Set-Up. Fine-tuning your Canvas course site to support student learning? Week 1 is an ideal time to check that you’ve got the basics covered. The Canvas Course Checklist will help you simplify your course navigation menu, organize weekly modules, align the gradebook with your syllabus and improve accessibility. 
  • Improve Your Course Readability. Want to learn how to make course content that you post on Canvas more readable? Check out Five Tips on Improving Readability in Your Courses for practical tips on chunking content, using white space, avoiding wordiness, making color choice, and using visuals to benefit your students. 
  • Strategies to Start Out on the Right Tone with Students. Seeking ways to make a good first impression on your students and set a positive tone for your spring term courses? Review Five Aspects of a Great Welcome Message and How to Teach a Good First Day of Class for practical tips and techniques to apply this week. Good luck! 
  • How to Leverage Your Influence and Connect Students to Resources. Students listen to and care about resources instructors recommend. You can normalize resource use and encourage students to have positive experiences accessing campus resources. Consider using Canvas announcements, discussion board posts, or 1:1 conversations to share resources like Academic Coaching and the OSU Writing Center that can provide timely support in the latter part of the term. 

About the author: Emma Larkins (she/her) is a doctoral candidate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Oregon State University. Her professional background is in qualitative research, higher education assessment and evaluation, and advancing equity.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of Timely Teaching Tips posts to provide just-in-time pedagogical techniques, strategies and guidance to support OSU instructional faculty. For daily Timely Teaching Tips throughout the academic year subscribe to OSU Today.

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