Breaking ice in a new classroom can be a challenge. Sometimes first impressions can determine the dynamic of how the rest of the course goes.
What do you do on the first day?
I run two discussion sections (as a Teacher’s Assistant) for Intro to Political Economy at The New School. This week I had my first classes over zoom, and hopefully, we will be back in an actual classroom the week of Valentine’s Day. Each class is 1:15 or 75 minutes long.
I followed this Basic outline or notes I used for both of my classes on the first day:
- Introduction to the Discussion Section
o Go Over the syllabus
1. Due Dates for assignments. How to do well in the course.
o Discussion Questions and Grading
1. Due Date – Give students a week to respond – That ok with students?
2. Students have to answer the DQ’s
3. We’ll go over all DQ’s during our Discussion section.
o Midterm and Final
1. Midterm will be a selection of the Discussion Questions. Short answer format.
2. Final – same concept with the DQ after the MT.
o Code of Conduct
1. Respect each other. Disagreements are fine but are respectful.
2. Don’t threaten anyone. Be kind.
3. My opinions will come out, not trying to convert anyone.
4. Would you like me to record the Discussion sections?
5. DQ worth 15% of the participation grade. The other 15% is Discussion participation. I will send out an email if I notice a lack of participation.
o Who is this Kurt person? – Introduced myself and why I have the privilege of teaching this class.
- Student introductions – The class had around 25 people in each section:
o Name, preferred pronouns
o Where are you from?
o School and Major
o How much money (per year) makes you rich? Put value in dollars.
- Thoughts on today’s Lecture from Professor?
- If you were going to give Capitalism a letter grade, what would you give it?
o Breakout Rooms – put students into groups of 5-6 and have them respond to the question. Gave them 15 minutes.
o Bring the class together and see what grades they gave Capitalism.
- Final Question: Would anyone like to define Capitalism?
o After volunteers or randomly picking on students, I provided a definition I found helpful.
- Definition of Capitalism:
o A mode of production
1. A small group of individuals controls private ownership over the means of production.
2. Most individuals sell their ability to do work to the group above and receive money in the form of wages.
3. The distribution and exchange of goods and services happen in “free markets.”
· Claim “free markets” because in the next class, we discuss primitive accumulation.