Last week was my first week of classes for the 2008-2009 academic year, and I was all ready to write a post called "The Most Important Day of Class." The whole premise was that the first day of class is the most important day of class for the whole term. But I didn't write that post, because I decided I was wrong.
The first day of class is not the most important day of class. The second day is.
Here's what I mean. The first day is important, because on that day the prof is likely to explain what the course is intended to be like. You're also likely to be treated to a lecture on why the course is the most important course you will ever take in law school, and perhaps your whole life. I'm exaggerating, but not overly so. This is called selling the course--and it happens not only in electives, but also in mandatory courses. I certainly do it. I think it helps students see where the course fits in the grand scheme of things, and it gives them a sense of what I think of the subject and why I am teaching it. And I do hope it generates a little excitement to get us all through the drier parts of the course. (And if you are in law school, you know some of it is dry.)
But that first class is often an anomoly. It's on the second day that students are more likely to get their first glimpse of a more average class--no calling of the roll, no grand views of the law. Instead, it's on to theory, doctrine, and the briefing of cases.
So for those of you in law school, pay close attention in those early days. And mark your calendars for class #2.