A few tips for new faculty

So, we have some new faculty. New to the university, and new to teaching. What advise can I offer? Here are few things to consider:

  • Never show fear. Students can sense fear. They see it as a sign of weakness. They may attack. If you are afraid, act like you are not.
  • When in doubt, imitate. Don’t try to reinvent anything. Don’t try to find your own style, that will come with time. The goal is to become familiar with teaching and to become familiar with the content. Once you do that, you will have a better idea about how YOU want to run things. So, in the mean time, find an experienced faculty member and ask for help. He or she will probably share any materials they have with you. Maybe you could sit in on their class and just do almost the same thing as him or her. This may seem like a cheat, but the semester is starting now. You need to do something.
  • If you are unsure of level, aim high. Is this test too hard or too easy? If you are not sure, err on the side of difficult. It is much better to start the semester off too hard than too easy. You can always curve to bring the grades up at the end of the semester, but if you do it the other way, there will be blood.
  • Fairness is important. Don’t change test dates once you have set them. Don’t change the “rules” you create in the syllabus. If a change needs to be made (like for a hurricane or something) make sure the change has a positive effect on student grades. Grades may not seem like a big deal to you, but they are HUGELY important to students.

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