When students first enter your classroom, whether in person or in a virtual setting, what do students see? Is there anything to watch when they walk into your class? How do you prepare them for your class session? One of the best ways to welcome students to your session and establish a safe environment is to post a visible agenda. Diaries are an easy, inexpensive, and flexible teaching strategy that will benefit both the instructor and the students (Downing & Peckham-Hardin, 2001). This agenda can be visible in your LMS or simply written on the board.
In my current position, one of my responsibilities is to observe all new faculty members teach a lesson and then provide support after discussing the observations. One suggestion that continues to come to the fore is to have a visible agenda that students can see when they enter the classroom. The agenda can simply be an outline of the topics to be introduced and discussed, as well as the activities that will be implemented, and/or it could also include learning objectives. An agenda is simply a list of tasks that will be done during this class session in chronological order. It’s a concrete reminder of what the plan is for the whole class session. There are many benefits to providing a daily schedule and posting it for students to see.
To prepare students for learning, it is beneficial for instructors to begin each lesson by revision the agenda (Lewis, 2015). So not only do you present it, but you also have to review it with the students. This will outline the session for students and help the instructor focus on the most important upcoming tasks. Students are more motivated to work when they clearly understand which goals are most important and mean the most to their instructor. Additionally, instructors can use this time to review upcoming assignments and possibly revisit something that came up in a previous session (Eccleston, 2004).
Identifying and meeting the needs of adult learners is key to improving their achievement and empowerment (Diep, Zhu, de Greef, Vo & Vanwing, 2019). When the needs of adult learners are met, it is more likely to result in high quality learning (Diep, et al, 2019). Adult learners want to know that the class they are attending will be relevant, which, in turn, will facilitate the learning process. By viewing an agenda, students will see that there is a plan for the class and when active participation will be required, but it will also allow students to feel comfortable in the classroom environment to know what will follow. While adults are portrayed as autonomous learners, a consistent and clear curriculum is critically important as it translates into a sense of security (Philips, Blatzer, Filoon, & Whitley, 2017).
Overall, using a visible daily planner benefits both the instructor and the students. They promote many different skills in the classroom and can be used in many ways. A visible student schedule helps both instructors and students stay organized, plan ahead, and manage their time (Lewis, 2015).
Key benefits of having an agenda visible when students enter class
- Adult learners, just like children, like to know what happens next during the class session. When students enter the physical or remote classroom, it’s a way to welcome them into your session. It provides them with the plan for the day, which helps students feel safe.
- The agenda helps achieve the objectives of the session. As the goals are discussed, the agenda provides the blueprint for how they will be achieved. Some words to display in your diary might be: discuss, review, create, etc.
- The agenda helps organize the session and guides both the instructor and the students through what needs to be covered during the session. It helps the instructor stay on task and focused on the tasks at hand, as well as a point of reference.
- The agenda serves as a communication tool between the instructor and the student. Students visually see what the class plan is and know the instructor has a plan. It also allows students to feel safe knowing that their instructor has planned ahead and is ready to teach with a schedule in mind.
- An agenda is a simple and reliable way for students to anticipate and prepare for the course session. When students read your agenda and then after reviewing it, they will know what materials they will need for the class session, whether it’s note taking, their laptops, or handouts. assignments or previous sessions.
Dr. Joanne Ricevuto serves as Assistant Vice President for Academic Success and is responsible for her institution’s faculty programming, which includes providing and presenting a multitude of professional workshops to faculty on a variety of current topics. in higher education. She is also the editor of the Office for Educational Success website. She has been in higher education for over 20 years and a teacher of early childhood education. Additionally, she is the author of numerous published articles on virtual learning and student engagement, as well as co-author of a forthcoming book: Engaging Virtual environments: Creative ideas and online tools to foster student interaction, Participation and active learning.
Diep, AN, Zhu, C., Cocquyt, C., de Greef, M., Vo, MH and Vanwing, T. (2019). Online and blended learning needs of adult learners. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 59(2), 223–253.
Downing, J., & Peckham-Hardin, K. (2001). Daily timetables: a useful learning tool. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33 (3), 62-68.
Eccleston, J. (2004). And on today’s agenda… Essential learning products. Teaching PreK-8, 34 (4), 54-55.
Lewis, N. (2015). Daily planners: the key to organizing the class. Journal of Best Teaching Practices, 2 (1), 7-9.
Philips, LA, Baltzer, C., Filoon, L. & Whitley, C. (2017). Mature Student Preferences: Instructor characteristics conducive to successful teaching. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, 1–12.