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Teaching Tip: The Critical First Day of Class

August 20, 2015

teachingThere’s only one first day of class.  Faculty Focus (Aug. 19, 2015) provides some ideas for taking advantage of opportunities that are not available in the same way on any other day of the course.

  • A good introduction to OM provides a bit of background; it builds connections by identifying shared experiences and common interests. The details offered in a good introduction motivate continued conversation.
  • The first day gives you the chance to explain why OM matters to you. Of all the potential majors, you chose one in this field—how did that happen?
  • The operations course develops important concrete analytic skills. The first day is a good time to let students know what they will be able to do—or do better—as a consequence of this course.
  • Courses have been known to change lives. Most don’t, but OM is probably the most dynamic subject in all of business.
  • Talk about your commitment to teaching–and your favorite things about teaching.
  • You can talk about your commitment to student learning.
  • It’s a chance to find out about your students in the course. This can build constructive relationships and help establish concrete ways to connect.
  • OM is a new course and the beginning of a new academic year. You and your students want the same things on the first day—a good course, a positive constructive learning environment, the chance to succeed.
  • Students may look passive and not especially interested, but don’t be fooled. On that very first day, get students connected with each other and the course content.
  • It’s the day in the course when it’s easiest for the teacher to genuinely smile. You have only good news to share, so let them hear it.
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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 21, 2015 4:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing the good tips, Barry!

    Most business students take the introductory operations management course because the “have to,” not because they necessarily want to. Most have no idea what to expect coming in, but they might have heard that there’s a lot of math involved (which doesn’t excite many of them). The very first “content” in my course is a 10-minute video clip from Fawlty Towers (“Waldorf Salad,” CBS/VOX VIDEO: 1979). The very start of the episode contains a funny scene about suppertime in the dining room of a bed and breakfast in England. The owners and staff make numerous errors. A class discussion can directly follow, listing what went well (almost nothing) and what didn’t (many things). This clip can start a course off well because: (1) it’s a very easy way to create an atmosphere of student participation right away in the course—identifying poor operations is easy in this clip, (2) it emphasizes right away that operations management applies to services, not just manufacturing, and (3) it’s a fun way to begin a course.

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