Skip to main content
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.

Designing your course and syllabus

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.


Teaching the first day of class

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.


Teaching different types of classes

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.


Cultivating faculty and TA working relationships

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.


Assessing student learning

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.