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Maximizing the Minutes before Class

Students taking notes on their laptops in the Great Books classroom

By Christopher Heard, Director of the CTE

The Chronicle of Higher Education offers a series of "Two-Minute Tips: short videos to help you excel in the academic workplace." The videos are hosted by Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz, breaking news editor at the Chronicle. The tip for October 22, 2018 offered "3 Tips for the Minutes Before Class," based on "Small Changes in Teaching: The Minutes Before Class," a 2015 Chronicle advice article by James Lang. In brief, Lang and Zamudio-Suaréz encourage us to enhance the minutes before class by:

  1. Make small talk with students.
  2. Preview the class agenda.
  3. Create wonder.

Check out Zamudio-Suaréz's video or Lang's original column for more details and inspiration.

For some time now, I've had a preclass routine of my own. A few minutes before class begins, I start some energetic music and a looping slideshow that advertises upcoming campus events and reviews course material from previous classes—which in some cases equates to previewing quiz or test material. The Chronicle's tip inspires me to add in some preview material for the day's class.

Do you have a preclass routine that works well for you? Send it to to share it with your colleagues!