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The Difference in the First Week

Thanks to John Fea’s Sunday Night Odds and Ends post for this reminder that the first week of classes is never quite the same as the rest of the semester, and therefore can be a poor predictor of the rest of the semester:

If you’ve taught before, or even just been a student before (which I trust all ProfHacker readers have been), you know that the first week of the semester (or quarter) is not like the rest of the weeks to come. This means that, however your first week played out, it is not predictive of the next three months.

But it’s easy to forget that you’ve been through the first week of the term before. Maybe a better one, maybe a worse one. But you got through it and probably don’t even remember it all that clearly any longer. Here are a few of the reasons why whatever happened last week (or will happen next week, depending on your calendar) is unique to the first week of the term.

The author lists these five points of uniqueness:

  1. Everyone’s routines just changed.
  2. Something will malfunction.
  3. “Should I stay or should I go?” is the first week’s theme song.
  4. You didn’t sleep well
  5. You’ve just met a bunch of new people.

I would add at least one more big uniqueness:

  • There is no graded work: I made some practice assignments, and announced a quiz for this week, but I don’t get enough accomplished in the first week to collect anything I’ll be grading. I would be surprised if most courses start collecting graded work within the first week of classes, especially since we started on Tuesday, so each class had only two meetings.

You can read the details of ProfHacker’s take here. I’ll be busy beginning week two here at Messiah College. Yes, even though it is Labor Day, we still have classes!

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