Successful Beginnings for College Teaching

How does a college instructor develop and maintain rapport with students? This has challenged even the most experienced instructors.

Successful Beginnings

The author of Successful Beginnings, Angela Provitera McGlynn, has provided some wonderful advice.

Note: I highly recommend McGlynn’s book !

Engaging Your Students From the First Day

This is the subtitle of McGlynn’s book; and, in my opinion, the most critical skill required of college teachers. Someone once asked me what I look for when I conduct a classroom observation. Without hesitation my answer was, “Engagement, student engagement.”

McGlynn has given her readers many effective techniques for developing and nurturing a positive relationship with students. The advice in Chapter 2, A Positive Start: First-Day Classroom Activities and Icebreakers, will help you set the stage for the entire semester. I could not agree more strongly with McGlynn when she wrote, “The first class meeting of the semester is the most important one of the term! It sets the tone for the entire course – for better or worse,” (pg. 35).

In my article, Do Boy Scouts Make the Best Instructors?, I provided strategies for preparing for your first class. You know that the Boy Scout motto, right? Be Prepared. In my article, An Instructor’s Guide to the First Day of Class, I borrowed from Barbara Gross Davis’s book, Tools for Teaching. I recommend Davis’s book, although parts are geared more toward university professors.

What I really like about McGlynn’s book is the emphasis on developing relationships with students that will create, as she puts it, a “Welcoming Classroom Environment.” McGlynn explains that simple little techniques like greeting you class as a whole and greeting students individually will help you develop rapport.

I cannot begin to do justice to the entire book in this article. Of course, if I did that would be plagiarism. However, let me just whet your appetite for this book by saying this. The chapters on Promoting Student Participation and Motivation and Dealing with Civility in the College Classroom cover make-or-break teaching and classroom management techniques. The college instructors whom I have seen struggle quite often lacked in these areas.

© 2011 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.

Revised September 16, 2011


 


 

 

About Dr. Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.

My name is Paul Hummel, and I often introduce myself to others as a recovering engineer. If you are familiar with the Dilbert cartoons, let me simply say that I lived all of that. I started my college saga at Illinois Institute of Technology. Eventually, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management. I worked for many years in industry, and during this time I did some college adjunct teaching. During my career I held several managerial positions in industry, the last as Director of Technology of a division of a Fortune 500 corporation. Then, in 1996, with minimal planning or forethought, I found myself working as a manufacturing consultant on behalf of Elgin Community College (ECC). My career in higher education began to take shape. I fell in love with ECC and with the mission of community colleges in general. I worked fulltime and occasionally taught college courses for my institution and two other colleges. After a couple years I set a goal to move over to the “credit side of the college” and eventually become a college administrator. In 2006, having earned my doctorate in education, I achieved that goal. I was hired by Waubonsee Community College as Dean for Technology, Mathematics and Physical Sciences. I have had the great fortune of working at two excellent colleges. The insights I want to share are drawn from the various college positions I have held. At ECC, in addition to my consulting role, I coordinated non-credit professional development training programs for three years and spent four years advising students in the TRiO Student Support Services program. That position helped me understand college education from the perspective of today’s college students. After seven years at Waubonsee, I retired April 30, 2013. I now devote my knowledge and skills to upgrading and expanding the websites I created beginning with Adjunct Assistance. I have three other websites: College Teaching Tips, Keys for College Success and Lighthouse for Learning. A lot of work lies ahead for me in terms of upgrading and expanding each of these websites, but I could not be more excited about fulfilling the vision I have for helping college instructors and their students succeed.

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