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Summer is moving quickly and lesson planning for the new semester will start soon enough (if it hasn’t already). As I’ve been blogging about teaching tips, tools, and resource for over a year now, I thought I’d help give new readers an easy resource to use to get started on their semester prep. If you’re one of the many new college instructors entering the classroom in the fall or are just looking for some fresh ideas, here’s my list of top blog posts with tons of advice and resources.
My Top 5 Resources for New College Instructors
While I definitely recommend perusing my blog to find tips on assessment strategies, extra credit activities, LMS tools, and more, here are five blog posts that each list out some of my best tips and tools for new college instructors.
If you’d like to know what I consider to be my BEST tip from each post, check out my YouTube video by clicking the image above.
This blog post is definitely THE one to read if you’re new to teaching college courses. Of course, these tips are based on my own personal experiences, so you might have to tweak them to fit your own circumstances. So, if you want some advice about elements of teaching from course prep to end-of-semester activities, this list is for you.
I’ve also created an ebook version of this blog post, which is available in my resource library.
Keeping your course plans and student information organized is key to a smooth semester. That’s why I suggest using a teaching journal to help keep you on track. While my teaching journals don’t begin until I start lesson planning my courses, you might go out and get a notebook to use immediately for this purpose. You can make notes when doing your research at the beginning of the journal and use that as a reference when the time comes to start lesson planning. If you’re interested in using a digital journal for this purpose, keep reading this post.
If there’s only resource you try out from all those included in this list, the first one in this post is the one to take advantage of. But, the Internet is definitely an amazing place for teaching professional development. Take some time to browse what’s available online. You’ll be amazed by how many resources are available for free. For example, my YouTube playlist of videos for new college instructors.
This post assumes you’re willing to take part in the teaching communities that you are a part of. The people around you are amazing resources for learning of new strategies and activities to use in the classroom. Here are five options that you might not have considered before. You can also check out a collaboration I did with Toyin Alli over at The Academic Society. We go over six tips for designing a major class project.
Of course, having the tools you need to stay organized is key for a successful semester. These tools aren’t teacher-specific, but they are definitely great for actions that habit or goal tracking, to-do lists, project planning, and more. I just caution you against using too many at one time. It can be easy to fall into the trap of trying to be too productive by using multiple tools. Keep it simple, and find the one or two that really work well for you.
With the need to go online with our teaching in response to CO-VID 19, I’ve created a few resources to help with moving your teaching online. This blog post includes a video LMS tutorial, a video previewing five free digital tools you can use when teaching online, and a list of activities you can do with each of the tools listed in the videos. Even if you’re not super tech-savvy, this blog post can help give you a sense of what simple activities you can do with your students online.
I know that not everyone reading this is a literature or writing instructor. Still, here are a few more specialized resources for new college instructors teaching these types of classes. As these are the courses I have experience teaching, I try to include some blog posts that really delve into the content I teach. If you’d like ideas for course designing literature and/or writing courses, take a look at the “Teach” tab on my navigation menu.
One of my most popular posts, I go through my process of teaching the five essential elements of written literary analysis. I break these components down for my students, so I thought I’d share that same approach in this blog post. I also explain how I scaffold this lesson in one of my courses.
If you’re tired of traditional approaches to teaching writing, I highly suggest reading about the approach our writing program takes at Illinois State University. We are all about teaching from a rhetorical genre studies approach, and that has led us to designing our writing courses in a really innovative (and aware-winning) way.
I love using this assignment at the beginning of the semester (it’s always due at the end of week two). It’s a great way to get to know your students on an individual level. The assignment can easily be made relevant to your course topic. It’s easy to grade. And it can quickly inform you about students’ past experiences that might really affect their work in your classroom.
My Self-Created Digital Tools
Finally, here are three digital tools I’ve created to help out any new college instructors looking to keep themselves on track without carrying around an additional notebook in their bag. Of course, these hyperlinked PDFs can work for any college instructor or grad student interested in planning and/or writing digitally rather than in a physical notebook.
Digital Academic Planners (Free)
Three different covers. Two different styles.
Digital Notebooks (Free)
Three different covers. Two different styles.
Final Thoughts: Bonus Free Workbook
If you’ve found the above resources helpful, I recommend joining my email list so you can get an email notification each time a new post goes live. You’ll also gain access to my free resource library, which houses all my blog-related checklists, templates, and other PDF resources.
If you’ll be teaching your first college course this upcoming semester, then I highly recommend joining the Ever Educating community via the email list. Why? Because I’ve created a five-part series all about designing your first week of class that officially started on July 5th, 2019. You definitely don’t want to miss out on the (60+ page!) workbook that goes along with it. Access to this workbook is included for anyone who has signed up for access to our free resource library.
I hope you’ll take advantage of this workbook and the many other resources available in the library!