Erika Romero

PhD Candidate and Education Blogger

Time Management Tips for Graduate Students (Who Teach)

Now that I’ve finished my series on designing your course materials and activities for the first week of class, I’d like to take a moment to provide some advice for those of you wondering how time management for graduate students who teach is even possible with all you have to get done. I realize that not all new college instructors are grad students. But, teaching assistantships are quite common for PhD students and even some MA students, so I want to make sure to offer advice to this large body of new instructors. Earning a graduate degree while living the rest of your life can be a struggle if you don’t go in with the right mindset and a plan. And even after years as a grad student, I’ve still needed to improve my own time management skills year after year. In today’s post, I’ve provided some time management tips for graduate students to help you start your academic year off on the right note.

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Creating a Student Self-Assessment to Understand Expectations & Prior Knowledge

We’ve reached the final blog post in the “Successful Start: Designing Your First Week of Class” series. Today’s post follows up on the workbook’s descriptions of various types of student self-assessment activities, the goals of these activities, and how to approach creating one. If you’re just joining us now, here’s the free 60+ page Successful Start workbook which you can use to create your materials for the first week of class. At this point, we’ve covered the syllabus, course schedule, icebreakers, and major class assignments and their instruction sheets. Complimentary YouTube videos for this whole series are also available, with the final video touching upon the benefits of having students complete a self-assessment during week one.

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Major Class Assignment Types and Why I Use Them

We’ve officially arrived at week four of the “Successful Start” series. So far, we’ve covered the syllabus, the course schedule, and icebreakers. Next week we’ll wrap up with student self-assessments. But today, it’s all about your major class assignments and how to introduce them to your students. In the workbook, I cover standard and nonstandard elements when creating your assignment instruction sheets. In today’s video (embedded in this post), I discuss how I introduce my major assignments to students during the first week of class (and why I do so during week one). In this blog post, I’m going over a few of the major assignment types I’ve used in my courses (examples included), in case you’re stuck on deciding what assignments to include in your courses (or don’t know where to begin). I’ve included my perspective on why I think these assignments work well for students and for instructors, as well.

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Icebreaker Activities for College Students

Today’s post will be a quick read, since I’ve already described in detail seven different icebreaker activities that I’ve used in my classrooms in the workbook that accompanies this five-part series. [For anyone who’s just joining us, we’ve already covered the syllabus and the course schedule elements of the first week of class.] Rather than go over the same icebreaker descriptions again, I thought I’d share a few personal experiences I’ve had with icebreakers instead. I’m also sharing a few additional icebreaker games that can be used with larger student numbers (75+). Let’s go break some ice!

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College Course Schedule Scaffolding Examples

Creating a syllabus is an essential step in preparing for the first week of teaching a college class. But once you know what topics, activities, and texts you WANT to include in your college course, the next step is to figure out if you have the TIME to devote to all that material. As such, the second part of my “Successful Start” series focuses on structuring a college course schedule. In the workbook, I go over my step-by-step process of brainstorming what to include in a course and drafting a full course schedule. Drafting a course schedule that actually has enough time allotted for everything that needs to be covered (or that you want to cover) is an essential step in preparing to teach a new course. In today’s post, I provide four examples of course schedules I’ve created. Let’s take a look behind the scenes of designing these documents.

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Course Syllabus Example Elements & My Instructor Notes

The course syllabus is often considered to be the most important document in a college course, because it lays down foundational information for your students on the first day of class. As such, the syllabus is the first “College Course Week 1” element discussed in the “Successful Start” workbook and series. [Here’s more information on the series, and here’s the link to the workbook.] Since the workbook covers brainstorming and drafting what elements you need and want in your course syllabus, in today’s post, I’ve provided examples of syllabus elements that I’ve used, along with my commentary on these elements. In today’s video (embedded at the end of this post), I focus on how my students have influenced my syllabus creation process.

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