Teaching at Cornell: Getting Started

This section presents information to help you get started teaching at Cornell: understanding your role as an instructor; getting to know Cornell students, your classroom, studio, field, or lab; and, making your first day of class successful. As a member of the Cornell teaching community, you join a long tradition of instructors with a passion for innovation, rigor, and student-centered learning.

This guide is intended for the entire Cornell University teaching community. These resources may be helpful to new instructors as well as experienced instructors who are new to Cornell.

The CTI also offers consultations, along with a range of resources to support you in developing your teaching practice throughout your career at Cornell.

In this Section

Instructor Roles

How do you define your role as an instructor? How do you communicate the core values of your discipline? How do you create a path toward reflecting on your teaching and soliciting feedback from students? How does your identity influence how you teach and how your students perceive you? Reflect on who you are as a teacher.

Gathering Context About Your Course

As a new instructor at Cornell, you may be asked to teach an existing course or design a new course. In either case, the resources and suggestions in this section will help you find essential information about the course (e.g., level, number of students, position and role within the curriculum, previous syllabi, etc.).

Get to Know Cornell Students

Cornell students are high-achieving (Institutional Research & Planning [IRP] University Factbook, Undergraduate Admissions) and increasingly diverse (IRP’’s Diversity Dashboard). Getting to know your students and introducing them to each other can help establish a welcoming environment and promote the intellectual and social engagement necessary for learning.

First Day of Class

The first day of class sets the tone for the semester. Additionally, it provides an essential foundation for the intellectual experiences to follow. Use the first day to share your excitement for the topic, set expectations for the course, and describe learning objectives. Create a plan for an interactive session that introduces your students to you, each other, and the course material.

Teaching Innovations at Cornell

What types of teaching does Cornell value? Cornell supports a wide range of innovative, educational experiences. We do this through a range of teaching and learning experiences including labs, studios, clinics, field study, community-engaged courses, and study abroad opportunities.