Who likes to be caught unprepared? (We’re guessing no one.) To avoid that dilemma, it’s a good idea to take some time to get all your course resources in order, well in advance of your next term.
In McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, Marilla Svinicki and Wilbert McKeachie provide a list of resources you should prepare, plan for, and perhaps revisit as you get set for the new school year:
- Your syllabus. Read back over your syllabus to verify that you’ve clearly listed all the materials you will require students to obtain. In addition, confirm that these materials will be available to your students at the proper time. (It also helps to have a backup plan, in the event that something will not be available as you’ve expected.)
- Access to library resources. Are the books, films, journals, and other required resources you’ve included in your syllabus and lesson plans available for use? How do you place these on reserve? Are there any terms, restrictions, or other policies surrounding their use? How do students access these resources you’ve set aside?
- Computers and other technology. Do you need a computer, multimedia projector, interactive whiteboard, or other tech tools? If so, be sure that these are available and that you request and reserve them in time for the beginning of classes. You may also require students to use computers to complete their work. Are computer labs available? If so, how and when can they use the labs?
- Copy machines and other in-class deliverables. Are there any limits to how many copies you can make for the classroom? Account for any item you might need to distribute; if you anticipate exceeding your allotted number, determine alternate means of delivering some of the information to students.
- Internet resources. If, for example, you want to show a video from Vimeo or YouTube in class, how do you do so? Do you need to secure any permissions?
- Your classroom. Become familiar with your setting, so that it’s not new to you on the first day of class. Check that the seating suits your intended mode of teaching (for example: rows of theatre-style seats are fine for lectures, but not as conducive to in-class discussion). Also, make sure that you have all the equipment and technology you need—and don’t overlook the small things, such as wall outlets, cords, and Internet connections, which suddenly become big concerns when you don’t have them at the moment they’re needed!
- Sites and sources beyond the classroom walls. What are your school’s policies and procedures surrounding academic field trips? Must you complete any contracts, forms, or other paperwork by a certain deadline? What information regarding the trip do you need to communicate to students? If it’s a virtual “field trip,” what do you need to do to ensure that the “trip” will go off without a technical hitch? (pp 17-18)
This list is not exhaustive, but it should get you started on your quest to have all your resources in place.
How do you prepare your resources for the start of school? Add your suggestions below.
Reference: McKeachie, Wilbert J. and Svinicki, Marilla. 2014. McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, 14th ed. Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.