Because the summer session is so short, immediately setting the tone, clarifying expectations and establishing strong rapport for your class is essential. Here are a few ideas for getting started towards a successful summer:
Have students exchange contact information the very first day so they immediately build a support system within and outside of class. Create a reason for them to contact each other before the following class. With the course running at such an accelerated pace, knowing they can contact each other will ease their stress levels and reduce time-consuming verbal explanations.
Learn names and use an icebreaker the first day to help yourself and your students get to know each other and to relieve tension and anxiety.
Map out the class for yourself and your students. Make the time frame real by handing out a calendar to the students or by posting one each class. Continuously draw attention to dates that have projects due, quizzes, or exams and have students acknowledge where they are in relation to those dates.
From day one, communicate that time is tight. Reinforce this by assigning a project or assignment that is due the very next class; make sure you give feedback on it either the day it is turned in or the very next class. This also can serve as a diagnostic. The sooner you develop an impression of the students’ strengths and weaknesses, the sooner you can get them extra help if you notice they’re falling behind. Talk to students who miss deadlines the first week about the importance of staying focused on their course(s). Remind students that missing just one class can put them behind very quickly in summer session.
Vary your activities and teaching style. This is especially important in the summer when students are spending long hours in your class each week. Set chunks of time for lecture or demonstration, time for small or large group work, and time for students to practice or apply what has been taught. The more variety offered during a class, the less students will want to be elsewhere.
Keep students abreast of their progress and grade. Remind them that it is too easy to fall behind during the short summer session.