Christopher Ruel
Christopher Ruel
Community and Social Marketing, Wiley

lecturer in classroom.jpg

The beginning of a new academic year is fast approaching. If this is your first year standing in front of a classroom full of students, we’ve compiled 30 nuggets of wisdom from professors and teachers at universities, community colleges, and high schools to help get you through the year ahead.  Good luck! We’re sure you’re going to be great.


  1. “Encourage students to understand the content and not just memorize it. Teach and encourage students to be self-sufficient, ask good questions, and be a vested partner in their own learning journey.”
  2. “Big picture advice: Teach critical thinking and problem solving. Practical: Try to plan the amount of minutes each activity or section of your lesson plan will take. Practice the presentation/lecture
    portions. Make sure you have extra (optional) activities in case you get done with the plan quicker than expected.”
  3. “Teach your students not just what to learn, but how to learn it.”
  4. “If you do not know the answer to a question, tell the student you will have an answer next class period.“
  5. “As a new instructor, take advantage of the work that Wiley has already done for you. When making assignments, first check the assignment bank to see what is there already. USE THOSE!”
  6. “Try to make eye contact, slow down, and if you are enjoying this activity, your students will do so as well.”
  7. “Decide whether you want to be kind or nice; nice is about being loved by your students, and being kind is about helping them improve.”
  8. “Teach one lesson at a time.”
  9. “Show passion in what your teaching! If you demonstrate your love for a topic, students will see that you think it's important, and they will also think its important. If you don’t care about your topic, why should your students?“
  10. “No matter what, get your grades in on time!”
  11. “There is a lot of advice out there, but BE YOURSELF -- students can sense if you are being genuine!”
  12. “Be idealistic, dream big, and push boundaries. Always study, learn, and try new ideas and methods.”
  13. “Your first year is the toughest because you need to create everything. Utilize anything you can that is already established-PowerPoints®, question banks, etc. Then, think about the future. Make sure any changes you make can be applied to future classes. Then, future years will go smoothly, which allows you more time to make any changes
    you want.”
  14. “Look to the future. At the start of each year (or over the summer or whenever you have you a break in between years or semesters), write a mission statement for your class(es)...this is where you would want to be in 5 years for your course. At the end of each of semester or year, go back and look at it and revisit it. It's a great way to see growth of your goals and how things can change completely due to student needs or stay the same. Using an electronic document like Google docs is nice.”
  15. “Teaching is a journey. Keep an open mind to new ways of doing things and to improving your instruction. Stop and ask students how the class is going and what you can do to improve it. Don't be hesitant to ask more seasoned instructors for advice or ideas.”
  16. “Explore all of the technology available to you today (and in the future) to make your job and your students’ learning quicker, easier, and more enjoyable.”
  17. “Instruction can always be improved. You shouldn't expect to teach perfectly in your first semester, but you also cannot expect to prep a class once and never have to make changes. Instruction can always be improved.”
  18. “Never stop trying to improve. Becoming a great teacher is a lifetime pursuit.”
  19. “Know your material. Anticipate the kinds/types of questions that students may ask. When you don't know something-admit it. Tell them you will find out, and then, follow-up with an email or bring it up in the next class.”
  20. “Don't try ALL the technology bells and whistles at once...learn to try one, refine it, try it again, and then try something else!”
  21. “Hang on. First year is the hardest.”
  22. “Don't let the students get to you. If you get angry, don't let them see it. That is a sure sign that they have gotten under your skin and they will continue to do
    whatever it is that they have been doing. If they think that they can't ruffle your feathers, often times they will learn to settle down in class for you.”
  23. “Go out there and do things differently. Don't settle for the same old way of teaching you might have experienced, but put into practice the best new ideas you or others around you have.”
  24. “Be confident in your teaching abilities. If you lack confidence, your students can sense that…”
  25. “When grading, focus on what you really want your students to learn. I spent precious hours correcting grammar and spelling, and students gave me horrible marks for
    not returning assignments on time.”
  26. “Do not lecture or talk for more than 10 minutes. Stop and engage the students.”
  27. “Patience!”
  28. “Stay on top of grading.... it will sneak up on you.”
  29. “Be clear and up front with your students about your expectations.”
  30. “Don't be afraid to let your students see that you are human and be willing to forgive yourself when you are not perfect.”


Are you an experienced college instructor or high school teacher?  Add your advice to those new to the profession by commenting below or tweeting @WileyExchanges.


Image credit: Izabela Habur/iStockphoto