Center for Teaching and Learning
Preparing to Teach
Instructors at the UW may need to prepare for a variety of teaching experiences. Not only does this process include designing or revising your course and syllabus, it also involves knowing the type of class you are teaching (e.g., large foundation class or small seminar), understanding who your students are, understanding academic integrity policies and practices, and developing productive faculty/TA working relationships.
An effective course design begins with understanding your students; deciding what you want them to learn; determining how you will measure student learning; and planning activities, assignments, and materials that support student learning. The syllabus provides the instructor and students with a common reference point that sets the stage for learning throughout the course. Although courses may vary in size, subject matter, or level, a systematic process will help you plan and structure your course and syllabus to effectively reach desired instructional goals.
A successful first day can be a key component of a successful quarter. You should envision the first day as more than just a time to review your syllabus. It is an opportunity for you to establish expectations, set the tone, and to get to know your students.
One size does not fit all! Classes differ by size and format (e.g., discussion, lecture, online, or hybrid) and are divided along disciplinary lines. It is important for you to consider the unique characteristics of your class composition and to tailor the course structure, assignments, and activities to best support student learning. Paying attention to these details will create a learning environment in which students can successfully meet learning objectives.
Coordination and collaboration are the corner stones of a successful faculty/teaching assistant team. Setting appropriate expectations, delegating work, and establishing effective modes of communication early will increase the chances of success. This is especially true as the team negotiates course-related issues such as grading, office hours, section content, and student relations.
Practices related to grading—both as an assessment of student performance and as a mechanism through which students receive feedback on their work—vary widely across disciplines, course levels, departments, institutions, and instructors. However, there are several strategies that most instructors agree contribute to successful grading: creating clear grading criteria, communicating these criteria to students, giving constructive feedback, and employing time management strategies when grading large amounts of student work.