The First Day of Class

First impressions are lasting impressions, and especially so in your target class! Be sure to review the following hints and guidelines to hit the ground running and make a good first impression.

First Day Speech

An SI leader is expected to make an oral presentation to the class on the first day to introduce the SI program. The presentation does not have to be long (usually around 3–4 minutes). It does have to be well-delivered! If you’ve never taken a public speaking class, forgotten about one you have taken, or are just plain nervous about speaking formally in front of others, don’t be scared. Here are some good things to remember:

  • Pacing: It’s nerve-racking to get up in front of a crowd and speak, but it’s just like taking a test: to perform at your best, prepare yourself and don’t rush through it! Speak clearly and loudly enough for everyone to hear you. It is better to keep it short and simple than to rush through your presentation so fast that no one understands you.
  • Body Language: Try to keep your body language open and inviting. Crossing your arms, poor posture, or turning away sends silent signals to your audience that you don’t want to be approached. If you must move around during your presentation, move around the room (slowly!) and make eye contact with different people.
  • Audience Engagement: If you don’t give your audience a reason to stay with you, they’ll tune you out. To keep them engaged, try maintaining frequent eye contact or even asking an audience member about their previous experiences. Connect with the audience, and your message will be heard.

The first step in any communication is to figure out what you want to say – make a plan or an outline. Figure 3 is an incomplete outline you can use to get started. Try to fill every blank with a point to make about SI or yourself, but don’t stress if you miss one.

Six paragraphs may sound like a lot, but it’s not. Depending on how much information you want to convey, the outline can be as short as two minutes or as long as five. The goal is to pique the students’ interests about SI, not to meet a length requirement.

Non-Verbal Cues

All people communicate in two ways: verbal and non-verbal. Although we put careful consideration into our verbal communications, we often overlook what our body language is saying. These non-verbal cues are important for maintaining an open and approachable session, so be aware of what you’re saying verbally and non-verbally.

Things like crossing your arms or turning away from someone during a conversation virtually scream “unapproachable.” Avoiding eye contact or frequently looking down communicates uncertainty or disinterest. Attentive listeners look the speaker in the eye or even lean toward the speaker slightly to show their interest.

Figure 3: First Day Speech Sample Outline
  1. Personal Introduction
    1. a.
    2. b.
  2. What SI Is
    1. a.
    2. b.
    3. c.
  3. Leader's Commitment
    1. a.
    2. b.
  4. Student's Commitment
    1. a.
    2. b.
  5. Benefits
    1. a.
    2. b.
    3. c.
  6. Summary and Conclusion

Beginning of Semester Survey

After your oral presentation, you should administer the Beginning of Semester (BoS) survey. It has been newly redesigned and is significantly longer. Here are some guidelines for using the survey to its fullest:

  • The new form has information that is specific to you, the SI leader. Come prepared with copies that include your candidate session times, as well as the class, section, and instructor already filled in.
  • Encourage the students to fill in as much information as possible. We can always look up student ID numbers but the demographic information helps give a very detailed picture of how effective the SI program is. If a student is concerned about how we will use the data, you can refer them to email the SI coordinator.
  • Information gathered on this form is confidential, and you must make sure that no one other than you or the SI mentor/supervisor staff can read students’ responses. A manila envelope would be good storage for surveys ready to be turned in.
  • If you need help making sense of the scheduling responses, check page 13 for instructions. Your mentor is also an excellent resource for all things scheduling related.

There is a blank copy of the survey on the next page. Take some time to read over it and be ready to address any questions you think that students may have about the form. Don’t worry about writing on this copy – a blank “master copy” is on page 29.

Comments