The reality: “Threshold”

So here’s how it went.

Day 1 of class. I showed up about 15-20 minutes before class was supposed to start.  I walked into a room that was clearly under construction (no carpet).  As I am walking out and trying to formulate a sign on my laptop directing students to a new room, my class is walking down the hallway towards me.  We all travel to a new room and within about 2 minutes, the fire alarm goes off.  We leave the building and travel to the adjacent building and the room we go into is about 10 degrees hotter than outside.  Can you see how well this is going so far?  Once everyone makes it to the third classroom location, I go up and down the rows asking students their names and welcoming them to the class.  Not exactly “threshold” but I’ll take what I can get.

Day 2. I show up before everyone this time.  I write a question for students to work on at the beginning of class on the board.  When students show up, I greet them by name (or ask them to remind me), hand them a nametag with their name already on it, an index card, and tell them to answer the question on the board.  I was very happy with it.  Clearly this was new because some students tried to pass the “line”, but then I told them to wait. All was quiet while students worked on their question so I was a happy camper (I like quiet zen before I teach).

Day 3. I wasn’t prepared with anything.  I was t.i.r.e.d.  I did EVERYTHING new in this course this summer so I was just trying to keep my head up each day planning for class, giving them immediate feedback on assignments, and being friendly/approachable.  Plus this was lab day and I wasn’t totally ready for it.  But I noticed (after I reflected on how the week went) students stop showing up to class early.  I presume because they got the message “When I come to class Professor will have something ready and waiting for me to do.  This is not my social time.”

Days 4 and 5. Students still didn’t show up early which is good because I still didn’t have anything prepared for them.

Bottom Line: Threshold definitely gave students a message that when they are in my classroom they should be ready to work which I love for its nonverbal communication.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I can sustain it for the entire semester (I didn’t even last past 2 days).  I definitely plan to use threshold the first week or so of class when I am still trying to learn everyone’s name and set the tone for the semester.  Stay tuned for my Fall Semester Plans post about other classroom engagement techniques I plan to try!


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