by Angela Provitera McGlynn
Atwood Publishing, 2001
160 pages. Paperback.
Laying the groundwork for a successful semester starts with the first day of class. Author Angela Provitera McGlynn tells that the first day is not the day to pass out a syllabus and let everyone go. Rather, it’s the day to set the context for the rest of the semester.
The author stresses the need for developing an atmosphere of respect for diversity while simultaneously providing a safe and exciting place to explore differences.
Included are a whole variety of ice breakers and other exercises to keep students engaged and interacting. In addition, such vital issues as classroom dynamics, motivating students, and dealing with incivility are addressed with suggestions for promoting positive interactions.
Beneficial for new and seasoned professors alike
Successful Beginnings is divided into seven chapters, the first six of which focus on one of the following themes: course organization, first-day “icebreakers” to help start the semester well, building a good rapport with students throughout the semester, encouraging student participation and interaction, dealing with misbehavior in the classroom, and keeping students motivated through the mid and end-of-semester “blahs.” The final chapter summarizes the main points of each prior chapter. Given the variety of subjects and classroom dynamics that professors work with, McGlynn does an admirable job of offering a variety of suggestions on any given topic….Successful Beginnings for College Teaching offers useful suggestions on a variety of relevant topics. As such, it makes a good primer for young professors and a good refresher (or maybe even a renovator) for “old pros.”—J. Wisdom
Successful Beginnings means better learning
I’m sorry that this book wasn’t available when I first started teaching. This book is such a valuable resource and guide to making all the right moves in preparing for and meeting students for the first time. Faculty in colleges are often isolated, and practical issues are rarely discussed, so “Successful Beginnings” goes a long way to rectify that situation. There is such a nice balance between theory and practical suggestions that experienced faculty will also find this book immediately helpful. Most importantly, Professor McGlynn takes readers beyond the beginnings of courses to proven methods of effective classroom teaching and course management. She has a wonderful section on concluding courses in meaningful ways, and I plan to use some of her techniques myself at the end of this semester.
If I were an administrator at a college, I would make sure that I got this book into the hands of every new faculty member, full-time or adjunct!—Russell T. Warne
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