Nervous about the first day of teaching?

Not surprisingly, many TAs are apprehensive about the first day of class. This is natural–even experienced teachers feel anxious in facing a new class.

Among the common fears expressed by TAs are:

  • What if I can’t control the class?
  • What if I freeze and am unable to think or speak?
  • What if I lose my train of thought?
  • What if a student asks me a question I can’t answer?
  • What if I give a wrong answer or make a mistake in presentation?
  • What if a demonstration or experiment does not work properly?

Your position–the person in front of the classroom–vests you with authority. Use this to bolster your confidence before you step into the room. Also, remember that students are probably feeling a bit anxious about how you will judge them.

Having a lecture outline can help you get back on track if you momentarily freeze or forget your next point. Simply telling the class “I forgot where I was going for second” will not erode your authority.

Taking the time to prepare beforehand will help insure that class goes smoothly. However, accept that sooner or later you probably will make a mistake–it happens. Consider beforehand how to respond to such situations.

If you realize that you’ve given incorrect information, correct it at once. Don’t try to cover it up. Admitting that you were wrong will not cause students to lose respect for you–refusing to admit a mistake may.

Not everything will work out exactly as planned. Be assured, however, that your errors will not seem as disastrous to the students as they do to you.

For more tips, check out our TA Handbook.


Advice for the First Day of Class

Advice for the First Day of Class

With the start of the Fall 2013 semester just two weeks away, this TAP blog post focuses on the first-day teaching experience in the college classroom.  Check out this Faculty Focus advice article that highlights how first-day use of the “Today We Will” strategy can set an organized, focused tone for the rest of the course.  What other first-day instructional plans and strategies will you use for your fall semester courses?

If you are a new Teaching Assistant, check out the “Your First Day in the Classroom” and other insightful sessions scheduled for the annual Teaching Assistant Orientation hosted by the TA Project.  All new Teaching Assistants can register for the upcoming Teaching Assistant Orientation programs at  See you there!