Preparing to Teach

How can I prepare and plan for my role as instructor before the semester starts? 

Prepare a Syllabus

The syllabus communicates to students the course expectations and structure, so it is critical that you fully understand what is being asked of students and what students can expect from the course and instructor(s).  The syllabus should clarify the following:

  • learning goals and objectives
  • assignments, assessments, & grading policy
  • course policies and procedures, disability support
  • schedule & instructor contact details

Learn more about course & syllabus design.

Clarify roles and responsibilities

If you are co-teaching or teaching as part of a team, you may wish to raise some of the following questions:

  • Will the team convene regular meetings?
  • What is the role of TAs in this course? Should TAs attend lectures?  Will TAs be provided with lesson plans/handouts or are they expected to develop their own?
  • Who will guide the grading of student work?  If there are different grades, how will grading be standardized?
  • Who will hold office hours?  How many?  Where?  What should one expect?  

Familiarize yourself with the classroom and any instructional technology

Find the classroom location & learn to operate the lights, and instructional technology you will be using.  Make sure you always have a backup plan of what to do should technology not be working and verify that you have access to all online resources for the course.  This can help your first day run more smoothly.  Getting used to the room can be helpful for new instructors nervous about teaching for the first time.