Few of the young HSE teachers have special pedagogical training. Once upon a time, such academic disciplines as pedagogy and psychology were an obligatory part of university education. It was believed that after studying at a university, a person acquires not only knowledge in the specialty, but also the skills to broadcast it. However, senior colleagues say that these disciplines were of little use.

Entering the classroom, a young teacher is faced with a large number of elementary, but at the same time important questions, which he has to solve on the spot and often intuitively. We will talk about the basic rules of interaction with students within the framework of the training course. They are unlikely to insure you against all surprises, but perhaps they will help you to stand where it is especially “slippery”.

The very first and most important rule is that rules should not remain declarations, they should act. Moreover, following these rules is mandatory not only for students, but also for teachers. By following the rules yourself, you get the moral right to demand that students follow the rules. So be consistent and play by the rules!

The rules must be known. All the basic rules relating to this academic discipline should be contained in the curriculum and announced to students at the very first lesson. Repeating them later is also not at all harmful.

The word is not a sparrow! Keep your word and keep your promises to your students, whether they are related to the deadlines you announced for checking tests or the threat to ask especially talkative in the next class. Take care of strict adherence to your own obligations to students.

Forewarned is forearmed. This rule is relevant in many situations that arise during the educational process. Therefore, do not forget to take contact information from the study groups at the first lesson – e-mail addresses, phone numbers of group leaders. It is possible that during the course you will need to urgently inform students about something. However, do not forget to remind them of everything in advance. In particular, about the fact that a test will take place at such and such a lesson, then the deadline for passing the essay comes, then the exam. There shouldn’t be any more surprises!

Don’t be late! How to deal with student tardiness is up to you. You can keep the door open, or you can close it for latecomers. But where there should be no choice, it is in relation to your own delays. They are unacceptable for you.

Of course, we are all people, and no one is immune from getting into a traffic jam, etc. In this case, it is important not to let things take their course. If you feel like you are running late, do your best to warn students of your lateness. Call the department, the dean’s office, inform the curator of the course or even the head of the group. Students must be aware of what is happening. According to the rules, they can leave if you are more than 15 minutes late from the start of class. In practice, students are more patient and often wait until the last minute. But don’t take it for granted.

In addition to being late, it may happen that for some reason you are forced to miss a scheduled lesson. In this case, the main thing is not to disappear! Respect not only your own time, but also the time of your students. It is necessary to inform students as soon as possible about its cancellation, and also make sure that the missed lesson is compensated – the educational material must be read and analyzed.

The educational part of your faculty must be notified without fail that the lesson will not take place.

Everything has its time. Arrive early to class to demonstrate your interest to students. Start and end class on time. Thus, you express respect for the personal time of students. At the same time, be prepared to stay in the classroom after class to discuss questions that students have.

Strive to be fair. Justice is not equal to reckless mercy. It’s about following the rules you set. Avoid double standards. In addition, if necessary, be ready to delve into the student’s situation and, possibly, meet him halfway. But the main thing is a fair differentiation of marks depending on the quality of students’ work.

Control the situation. It doesn’t matter if you are giving a lecture or leading a seminar, your task is to maintain a working atmosphere in the classroom. It is important to be able not to contact individual students, but to interact with all those present. Agree, it is difficult to engage in extraneous matters if you feel close attention on yourself. Do not look out the window or at the wall, you need constant eye control over the audience. Let’s understand that you see each of the students, regardless of the number of people present.

Personalize the learning process. Try to get to know as many of the students who come to your class as possible and remember their names. It is not easy, but at the same time it always resonates with students. Some teachers, in an effort to personalize classes, first study the personal pages of students on social networks. Do not forget that each course has its own curator who, if necessary, can help you. In addition, you can ask students to write their names on cards, introduce themselves when answering a question, or even insert a photo of themselves into an essay.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. All people make mistakes, and it is not at all harmful for the educational process that students see teachers as a person, and not a machine, at the sight of which the soul goes to the heels. Don’t be afraid to be an imperfect teacher. But always acknowledge and correct your mistakes. Sometimes a mistake you make can be the occasion for a hilarious joke or even a “Correct Me If You Can” exercise.


The main task of the first lesson in any course is to get acquainted and establish the rules of the game. The rules must be thought out by you in advance. But you need to announce and start applying them already at the first lesson. So it’s time to discuss this first lesson.

Most likely, you do not experience any problems in order to enter an unfamiliar student audience and start classes. If you still experience some awkwardness, then come early. So you can start communicating with students even before the first bell for you “to the lesson” sounds, and most importantly, you will get a chance to look around, get used to the new environment.

It is useful to continue to come to classes a little earlier in order to additionally communicate with students. Be interested in what is going on outside of the classroom. Take every opportunity to get a more detailed understanding of the students you are lecturing to.

We will not be original in saying that you need to start the lesson with an acquaintance. First, introduce yourself. By the way, this obvious moment sometimes causes difficulty for young teachers. The age gap between young teachers and students is often small. This gives rise to the temptation to join the Western democratic tradition, where the teacher and the student call each other by name, while referring to “You”. However, we will hasten to save you from the temptation: at HSE, addressing a teacher by name is not accepted and is regarded as familiarity. Despite the fact that the educational process at the Higher School of Economics is organized relatively democratically, the relationship between teachers and students is still built on the principle of verticality. Yes, we respect students as individuals and in this sense we communicate with them on an equal footing, but there is only one vacant place of “authority” in the classroom. Yours. So you can safely write your last name, first name and patronymic on the board.

You should immediately explain to students how you prefer to communicate within the course: by e-mail, by mobile phone, on the forum, in LiveJournal, etc.

Acquaintance is a mutual process. Therefore, it is worth asking the elders to provide you with the e-mail addresses of student groups, to which you can send the necessary information on the course.

You can also conduct a small survey of students. In this way, you will get information about the professional interests of each, you will be able to later give examples that are more relevant to the interests of students, give intriguing topics for discussion and written work. However, back to the very first lesson.

The first session of a training course is often introductory. Therefore, having introduced ourselves and discussed the means of communication, we can proceed to discuss substantive and organizational issues.

Goal time. In the first lesson, it is important to pay special attention to explaining to students the goals of the course: what skills they should master as a result of studying this discipline.

According to experienced teachers, in order to achieve something from students, it is important, firstly, to clearly understand exactly what skills you are trying to instill in them, and secondly, to master these skills yourself.

Among students, a common argument against actively working on learning material is the idea that “we don’t need it.” Therefore, do not be too lazy to think in advance how your course will be useful specifically for this flow of students. Help students see the value of the academic discipline for them personally. Relate your course material to their educational, professional, and individual goals.

There are not very many options for arguing the significance of your course in practice (hereinafter we present the material, the author of which is G.B. Yudin, lecturer at the Department of Economic Sociology). Here are some of them:

– “The course is in the working curriculum and therefore students should study it.” This option is possible for justification, but from the point of view of student motivation, it is too formal.

– “Studying this course is part of getting a fundamental education.” This option is possible, but not all training courses look fundamental.

– “Studying this course will be useful in terms of increasing human capital in the labor market.” Again, not all courses actually are. In addition, not all students associate their working career with the specialty they receive.

– “The study of this course is useful from the point of view of the development of human capital in general, or in other words broadens the horizon, provides new tools for interpreting everyday reality.” This option is possible, but sometimes it is quite difficult to convince students that the learning material being mastered really helps them discover something new in empirical reality. Still, many courses include a serious theoretical part, the applied value of which is not always obvious.

– “Studying this course is useful in terms of acquiring the skills necessary for future work.” Maybe. However, part of the training courses in RUEs is of a general educational nature. The other part does not allow one to directly trace the connection between the skills demanded in the labor market and the knowledge acquired at the university. And the range of skills developed within the framework of the course can be either very wide, or, on the contrary, quite primitive.

Thus, there are no indisputable options for substantiating the significance of the courses. However, by raising this issue, you are already reducing tension by showing your interest in motivating students.

Formal rules for organizing a training course. In addition to the question “why is this needed at all”, students are interested in the question “how this will happen”. Coming to the first lesson, they expect to find out how the course work will be built. Students also plan their time and distribute their forces, so there is no need to complicate their lives with uncertainty.

What students are interested in is:

• what are the requirements for them;

• what types of work are planned;

• what control measures and with what regularity will be carried out;

• how much essay and in what terms they have to write;

• what are the requirements for the choice of essay topic and its format;

• how violations of deadlines for submission of written papers will be punished, whether fines will follow,

Is it possible to submit work after the deadline?

• whether it is possible to work out missed classes or tests;

• what will be the format of the exam/test;

• how the final grade for the course will be calculated, what weight different forms of work will have;

• whether it is possible to get a credit-machine at the rate;

• whether individual consultations are expected on the course;

• and etc.

“What about attendance…?” An important issue for most students, especially in senior years, is class attendance. It is important to immediately stipulate what role attendance will play in shaping the grade for the course.

HSE lecturers deal with the issue of attendance in different ways. Some believe that attendance is mandatory, since being in class, the student, at least out of the corner of his ear, will learn something from the educational material. Others insist that only motivated students should come to class; the unmotivated do not learn themselves, and do not give to others. And since HSE constantly emphasizes that self-study plays a key role in student learning, then let these “unmotivated” self-study from books, based on the list of control questions set out in the curriculum (by the way, there should be a list!) .

On the one hand, there are no universal recipes for solving the attendance dilemma. On the other hand, it seems important to remember the following:

The decision to attend or not attend classes is rarely made by students without gaining experience. Perhaps you should think about the quality of the first meeting: the fact that it makes no sense to miss a useful and interesting activity is clear even to sworn truants. So make your classes worth of attending. The attendance of your course largely depends on how successfully you organized the educational process.

Explain to students that the list of exam questions will include questions that can only be answered by attending class.

While recognizing the importance of attendance, keep in mind that course grades are given primarily for excellence in knowledge and skills. Give reasonable weight to the share of attendance in the overall score.

Sometimes it’s better to offer an incentive credit for perfect attendance than to lower a final grade because of a student’s missed class. It may be worth setting a limit on the number of student absences allowed. Penalties will apply if this limit is exceeded.

Do not forget that the university is responsible for its students, not only for their intellectual and sociocultural development, but also for elementary physical safety. It is much easier to control such security when students are sitting in a classroom under your supervision than in a movie theater surrounded by people eating popcorn and drinking Coca-Cola.

Whatever strategy you choose, marking attendance is by no means superfluous. This kind of disciplines students and gives you additional information about their motivation.

“Are they beating latecomers?” Another painful issue is the issue of being late for classes. At the Higher School of Economics, the so-called academic lateness, lasting 15 minutes, is tacitly considered acceptable.

However, in this matter, the teacher makes a decision at his own discretion. You can insist that it is not acceptable to be late for your classes, while locking the door to the classroom immediately after the call or after 15 minutes. Or you can let things take their course, resigned in advance to the fact that lectures will periodically be interrupted by the rumble of chairs and the rustle of late students making their way into the far corner.

“Buns”. Another important issue to take into account at the first meeting concerns students chewing on anything during class. At HSE, students often complain about short breaks and long queues at canteens, which prevent them from having time to eat between classes. Sometimes the solution is to move the second breakfast directly to the audience. Not all educators find the prospect of providing spectacle at lunchtime appealing.

If you hold a similar opinion and do not want to conduct classes under the crunch of crackers, be sure to tell the students about it. In this case, it will be more productive to contact them with a request than with a demand. Turn everything into a joke! Say it’s not fair of them to eat something tasty while you’re giving a lecture and technically you can’t chew with them. We are confident that students will be ready to meet you halfway.

As a reasonable compromise, you can allow any (non-alcoholic!) drinks to be brought in, but no food.

“Waiting for Unique Written Works”. Already in the first lesson, inform students about what sanctions will follow for plagiarism found in their written work. Take the time to explain once again what exactly you mean by plagiarism. Read more about this in the section “Plagiarism with the prefix “anti””.

Ideally, most of the requirements and rules associated with the development of a training course should be set out in the curriculum of the training course posted on the website of the department and on your personal page. It is worth paying attention to this from the very beginning and, perhaps, simply giving students a web link where they can find it.

It would be useful to bring a paper version of the program to the first lesson and distribute to students. Teachers rarely do this, although the resources of the HSE printing house make it possible to reproduce the program of the academic discipline for the entire class. It is very convenient to have a course program on hand, so why shouldn’t the teacher take care of it?

After discussing the objectives of the course and related organizational issues, you can proceed to a lecture or seminar. Please be sure to write the topic of the lesson and its outline on the board.

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