Trying to figure out what to do during the first class for the academic year can be daunting for a new college teacher. Regardless of the course that you teach, there are some activities that you can use to start the course on an exciting note. This is particularly relevant when you're teaching a freshman course. The students are new in college and are perhaps nervous about a lot of things, including classes. There are many interesting activities that come to mind but I'll discuss two of them here as part of the general tips for your first day of class.
ii. You are not an obnoxious school master or mistress but your dress code and gait should indicate who is in charge. Your body language should communicate that you're not a walk-over. Your carriage should indicate authority and competence.
iii. When meeting your students for the first time, you might begin by first confirming that you have the right group of students in the classroom. Occasionally you find that there is a clash or mix up in time table and fresh students might not initially be sure where to go to for a lecture. So you don't take it for granted that the students you meet in the classroom on the first day of class are there for your course.
iv. Briefly introduce yourself to your students and have them reciprocate. Everyone takes turn to talk about themselves, including their favorite things - sports, hobbies, food, and the like. It's supposed to be a fun time. My students and I find it very enjoyable. This activity succeeds in helping you break the ice, especially for most of us who want interactive, student centred classrooms. When I have large classes to teach, on the first day of class, I use the "Getting to know you" activity to get my students to interact as they move around the class. I would usually give students a short list of information to obtain by talking to each other.
v. Distribute course outline and explain its content - office number and hours, course content, modes of continuous assessment, recommended reading, prescribed books, and so on.
vi. Set down rules, e.g. for truancy, lateness to class, submission of assignments, classroom behavior, and so on.
vii. End the class by giving a short pep talk to get your students motivated and eager to succeed at college.