Get Started Teaching

The beginning of a course is important as it sets the tone for the entire class. Students often decide very early whether they will like the course, its content, the teacher, and their fellow students. For new teachers such expectations and demands can be overwhelming without good guidance and instruction. The following list offers a starting point to successfully teach a class, may that be for the very first time or later on in a teaching career. It is a catalog of suggestions for college teachers who are looking for fresh ways of creating the best possible environment for learning.

All instructors of record create syllabi, and many professors ask that their GTAs develop syllabi and course policies for individual discussion, recitation, or lab sections. Your syllabus tells your students what your course is about, what the learning objectives are, and the ways a student can be successful in your course.  A complete and well-designed syllabus can help set the tone for a positive teaching and learning environment and acts as a contract that clearly details both student and instructor responsibilities.  Please start here with a page that explains essential campus policies related to syllabi and offers a template you can edit or copy text from.
Success in the classroom is closely linked to how your prepare for your course. Detailed preparation must go beyond designing an engaging class or using technology in your classroom.  As an instructor, you must also support and accommodate students as much as possible, be ethical in your teaching, and be prepared to deal with potential problems or disruptions. 
Fostering a positive, inclusive, and safe environment is an important step toward engaged teaching and learning.  The student body at the University is diverse, and we have a responsibility to each student to provide the best possible learning environment.  These links provide information about the University’s expectations for creating a healthy classroom environment. You will find practical advice from instructors on methods, techniques, and approaches as well as resources for you and your students as you make your way through the semester. 
Working as a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) at the University of Maryland can be a rewarding experience for both you and your students.  As a GTA, you are often the first or primary personal contact students will have with an instructor during their first year.  Your interactions with those students will significantly impact the type of experience they have as undergraduate learners.  With preparation, planning, and effective time management, a teaching assistantship can prepare you to be an effective future faculty member and to improve your scholarship.    
As a member of the instructional faculty, you are the foundation of teaching and learning at the University of Maryland.  As an accomplished scholar, you introduce students to the histories, concepts, and problems of the disciplines that shape the academic work of undergraduates.  Whatever the venue for learning may be, effective faculty recognize that undergraduate teaching requires attention to the way students learn.