Preparing for First Class


  1. Turn in all required paperwork to the Human Resources Office; if you are a new employee (for example, transcripts, TB test results, fingerprints, and previous work experience validations). 
  2. If you are new to the college, familiarize yourself with the services available to you and your students. Check out these links, as well as links at the bottom of any COM webpage:

Student Services:

Academic Areas:


Course Outlines: 

As soon as you know what class(es) you will be teaching, please obtain an official Course Outline of Record from your department office or from the Office of Instructional Management. You can also find them on our website under Academics > Course Outline of Record.  Check to see if your course has prerequisites AND if it is a pre-requisite for a subsequent course. You can also access the course content, student learning outcomes and critical thinking points for any course by clicking on the name of the course in the searchable schedule.

Portal Access:  

Make sure you are able to access your account in the MyCOM Portal. If you are a new instructor, a welcome letter will be automatically sent when you are officially assigned to a class. The Welcome Letter will be generated from Enrollment Services so that it can be mailed to the your home address or hand delivered. This letter will contain your user name and a temporary password. This is very important. Use these to log in. You will immediately be asked to create a new password and answer some security questions. Please DO answer the questions as that will assist you in the future when and/or if you forget your password. If you have not received your log-in credentials yet or have forgotten them, please contact Enrollment Services.

Enrollment Numbers:

Find out what the expected enrollment maximum will be for each class. This can be found in the course outline. If the class has an enrollment maximum, this will help you to determine how many spaces if any will be available for students to add on the first day.


Check to see if there is a prerequisite (also on the course outline). Prerequisites and co-requisites are enforced through banner during the registration process before a student arrives in your class. Students may file a pre-requisite challenge.

Textbook Orders:

If no textbook has been ordered yet, put in a textbook order in the bookstore. This should be done as soon as possible and preferably well before the start of the semester. The administrative assistant for your department should be able to help you get a desk copy from the publisher.

Keys and Parking Permits:

Ask the administrative assistant for your department about ordering keys or key fobs and getting a Parking Permit.

Schedule of Assignments and Exams:

Plan your course to ensure that you cover all relevant material and allow time for review before final examinations. Whenever possible, include opportunities for written work. Make note of the final exam dates.

Course Syllabus:

Write and have duplicated at reprographics a syllabus containing the course name, section number, meeting days/times, your office hours and contact information, the course goals, textbooks, general outline of topics, student learning outcomes, penalties for late work, possibilities for extra credit or revision, midterm and final exam information, and the grading criteria and attendance policy you will use.

Make sure your syllabus includes add/drop deadlines and procedures.  

Academic Calendar  

For more information on creating your syllabus, please see: REQUIREMENTS FOR A COURSE SYLLABUS

Have your syllabus ready to distribute on the first day of class.  

Electronic/Digital Copies of Syllabus and Course Materials:

Make sure to prepare an electronic copy of your syllabus to post in Canvas and to turn in to your department's administrative assistant.  While many students benefit from having early access to your syllabus and required reading list, it may be essential to the success of students with some types of learning disabilities. Providing early access to electronic copies of course material allows students to view the syllabus and reading list in large-print format, or make arrangements to have that material voice-recorded. Instructors may leave an electronic copy of their syllabus and reading list with their department secretary for easy student access or post them online. (See Student Accessibility Services below.)

Keep Track of Enrollment:

Do you want to keep track of how many students are enrolled in your class? You can do this through your MyCOM portal. If you don't want to have to log-in to the portal, you can also check by going to the college website:

  1. Go to:
  2. Click on schedule for this semester.
  3. Search for your classes under your subject
  4. Click on the blue CRN for your course section.
  5. There you will find the number of students enrolled and on the wait list and any relevant cross-listed information.
  6. Just before your first class, print out your opening day roster from your MyCOM portal. Print out your waiting list BEFORE the first day of class as wait lists are purged by 8 AM that day.


  1. Sign your contract and turn it in to Human Resources.
  2. Get a parking permit.
  3. Receive office assignment and let your department administrative assistant know when and where your office hours are.
  4. Order necessary books.
  5. Confirm availability of book orders.
  6. Prepare your course packet/reader if applicable. This is due to Reprographics well before the start of the semester.
  7. Familiarize yourself with the college MyCOM Portal and the Canvas pages specific to your classes. 
  8. Post information, syllabi etc for your students in the Canvas shell for each of your classes.
  9. If unfamiliar with Canvas, attend a Flex Workshop before the start of the semester or explore the Online Learning website for additional resources and help. (See next section below)
  10. Prepare and finalize syllabus and grading policy and get it printed.
  11. Receive office and classroom keys.
  12. Prepare your lesson plan for the first day of class.
  13. Visit classroom beforehand.
  14. Most classrooms are already eqipped with a computer and projector (a ladybug). Reserve any other A/V equipment in advance.
  15. Post your class schedule and office hours outside your office door.
  16. Print your class roster and wait list before your first class.
  17. Check online schedule for any last minute changes to your class’s schedule and location.

Online Learning

Please visit the Online Learning Website(​ 

  • You can find information about Online Learning and web-enhanced instruction for face to face classes.
  • There is a Canvas Overview and FAQs for faculty and students.
  • All online courses are listed here.
  • In addition, investigate the Canvas link in your MyCOM portal located in the left-side Quick Links navigation column.]
  • The Getting Started page would be useful for prospective students.
Tips for Successful Online Learning available in the MyCOM Portal Services page:

Online learning requires a reliable Internet connection, an ability to manage your time and work independently, and a willingness to seek out help when you need it. Check out the 20 Survival Tips for Being a Successful Online Learner before your first online class begins and throughout the semester. 

Instructional Technology / Online Learning Assistance

Online and face-to-face help is available for students using Canvas to access their College of Marin courses.

For personalized assistance, submit a request here:  

Call the 24/7 Canvas Support Hotline: Student Hotline: 1-844-592-2200. Faculty Hotline: 1-833-291-3233

Drop-in Labs: Stop by the Distance Education office to discuss any Canvas questions. Thursdays,12-1 pm Learning Resource Center #170


Here is a useful book for teachers:

Tools for Teaching, Davis, B.G., Jossey-Bass; San Francisco, 1993.

A compendium of classroom-tested strategies and suggestions designed to improve the teaching practices of all college instructors, including beginning, mid-career, and senior faculty members. The book describes 49 teaching tools that cover both traditional practical tasks--writing a course syllabus, delivering an effective lecture--as well as newer, broader concerns such as responding to diversity on campus and coping with budget constraints.

As a community college instructor, your job is to facilitate learning and achievement of student learning outcomes, not just to impart information. Lecturing alone does not necessarily facilitate learning!

There are a variety of ways to involve students more actively in the learning process by making your classroom more student-centered:
  • Brainstorming and problem solving in pairs or groups
  • Discussions or debates
  • Involving students in Q and A sessions
  • Giving reports and summaries either orally or in writing
  • Role-playing, simulation games, or panel presentations
  • Using case studies which focus on problem solving skills
  • Taking field trips
  • Library research and writing term papers
In addition, learning will be enhanced if the instructor's preparation and planning includes:
  • Clearly stated goals and objectives
  • A variety of presentation methods
  • Use of multimedia
  • Where possible, multiple choices for assignments
  • Regular assessment to see that student learning outcomes are being achieved
  • Prompt grading and return of assignments
  • Every effort to motivate students to do their best work
The best teaching and learning occurs when:
  • There is mutual respect among all participants.
  • Students are motivated.
  • The learning environment accommodates different ways of learning and knowing so that the whole brain is engaged in the endeavor.
  • A context has been presented for the specific content being learned.
  • Student interaction is encouraged and student responses and opinions are respected.
  • There are opportunities for first hand experience to apply what students are learning to specific problems.
  • The students feel safe enough to begin to think outside of their normal frames of reference and to develop critical and abstract thinking skills.
  • Assessment is used as a learning tool and natural part of their studies.
  • Set clear standards for classroom behavior and stick to them
  • Give them clear guidelines regarding academic honesty and plagiarism.
  • Make sure students know what to do when they miss a class – how to make up missed homework or tests.
  • Articulate your expectations clearly, so that students can submit work that will meet them.
  • Try to balance your assessments – in terms of what, when, how and how often.
A few more helpful hints!
  • Oral participation from students increases retention.
  • Writing helps students to integrate what they are learning.
  • If students know that you expect and demand performance, they will tend to work harder.
  • Positive reinforcement works better than criticism.
  • Blocks to learning come from boredom, irritation, confusion, and fear. Beware of creating any of these blocks!


  • Begin with concrete items and gradually move toward more abstract content.
  • Integrate study skills into your lessons and syllabus.
  • If you are lecturing, give students an outline of what you will talk about each day and then stick to the outline so that their notes will make sense later.  (Put the outline on the board or give it to them in writing.)
  • Write down a list of important words, names and/or formulas that will come up in class.
  • Pause occasionally during the class to ask students to write down one important idea or fact presented in the lecture so far to share with the class.
  • Use visual aids.
  • Encourage active listening.
  • Be approachable and make time for questions.
  • Write out your assignments clearly. Never assume students understand what you want.
  • Talk about how to choose a topic and how to find and build support for the topic.
  • Provide a rubric for how you will evaluate an assignment.
  • Give and get feedback frequently.
  • Give constructive comments as well as compliments for things well-done.
  • Give opportunities for revision.
  • Integrate problem solving, group work and games into class sessions to provide review and opportunities for active learning.

The Reading and Writing Lab (RWL) on campus is closed right now

In this lab, students can receive individualized instruction on writing assignments for all courses. The Writing Center is staffed by English instructors and Instructional Specialists who are trained to help students develop ideas for a paper, check for organization in a paper and work on revision techniques.

Under normal times, this is a physical lab that was housed in the temporary buildings near Fusselman Hall in Spring 2020. For Fall 2020 through Spring 2021 at least, all tutoring is taking place online through zoom via the Online Writing Center (OWC) below.  

ONLINE WRITING CENTER (OWC) and Virtual reading and writing lab (RWL) 

College of Marin offers two online tutoring spaces for reading and writing in any subject: the Virtual Reading and Writing Lab and the Online Writing Center. In both labs, students can get help from COM English instructors and Instructional Specialists with:

  • Writing assignments for all college subjects
  • Brainstorming, essay and paragraph organization, idea development, research, and grammar
  • College entrance essays, UC/CSU applications
  • Scholarship applications
  • Resumes and cover letters

The instructions below are written for students. Here is a one page handout: 

Accessing the RWL and OWC (pdf)  

To access both the Virtual Reading and Writing Lab and the Online Writing Center, follow these instructions:

  1. Log into Canvas
  2. Click the Student Support icon located on the main navigation menu OR click on the COM Online Tutoring/Labs link in the course navigation bar in the left-hand column within your course.
  3. Click the Reading/Writing Lab & OWC link
  4. Click the Enroll in RWL/OWC link
  5. Click the Enroll in course button
  6. You will now have the RWL/OWC course in Canvas on your dashboard

Once you have enrolled, you will be able to access both RWL and OWC tutoring.

To schedule a virtual Reading and Writing Lab appointment:

  1. Click on the “RWL Virtual Appointments” button to schedule an online, real-time tutoring appointment through Zoom with an instructor from the Reading and Writing Lab. Each appointment is 20 minutes long.
  2. Once scheduled, you and the instructor/tutor will receive a link to a Zoom meeting via email.
  3. At the time of the appointment, join the meeting via the Zoom link.
  4. The instructor may ask you to share your rough draft through Zoom or to e-mail your rough draft.
  5. Please cancel the appointment if you are unable to attend.

To submit a paper on the Online Writing Center:

The OWC is open 24/7 to help students with writing assignments for all college subjects. Students can drop off their rough draft and expect to receive feedback from a tutor within 36 hours.

Follow these steps to request tutoring assistance:

  1. Review the OWC Tutoring Student Guidelines on the Canvas OWC page.
  2. Click on the Submit OWC Tutoring Request link. You will be directed to a form to complete your request on the College of Marin website (Note: You may be required to re-enter your MyCOM login information)
  3. Complete all required components of the form. 
  4. If submitting a paper, upload a Word document at the end of the form. Be sure to click on “Upload” and then “Submit.
  5. You will receive an email confirmation of your submission to the OWC service desk.
  6. Be sure to check your MyCOM e-mail for a response from a tutor. The e-mail will come from the ServiceDesk.”
If you have questions about how to access the Virtual RWL or OWC, please contact Beth Sheofsky at
We look forward to working with you on the RWL and OWC!


See Student Accessibility Services website.

An Introduction For COM Faculty:

As a member of the faculty of the College of Marin, you will eventually have a student with a disability in your classroom who is requesting some form of accommodation through Student Accessibility Services. The purpose of the following information is to prepare you to better serve these students and better understand your role and obligations in supporting these students.


  • Student accessibility in the classroom is a legal and ethical responsibility colleges must be attentive to, and for which faculty play a key role. It is legally mandated by federal and state law (and institutional policy) to provide reasonable accommodations to students with verified and documented disabilities.
  • An individual’s disability is often a very sensitive and private matter. We ask that faculty not discuss the disability with other students and not ask personal questions of the student.  Any questions should be limited to the particular accommodation. Instructors having questions are encouraged to speak to a student privately about their accommodation in order to maintain confidentiality. Speaking or announcing to the class about a student’s disability violates a student’s right to privacy under FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). If you have questions or need help in providing the accommodation, contact Student Accessibility Services.
  • Faculty should not provide an accommodation unless they have been specifically notified by an SAS counselor in writing. Not all students who have a disability have registered and are receiving services from SAS. Just because a student has a noticeable disability or shares information about their ability, doesn't necessarily mean they would like to use the college's services (or even need them).
  • Please make every effort to ensure that equipment provided for students with disabilities is available for them, such as special chairs or tables.
  • Faculty will not be asked to change the fundamental nature or content of a class for a person with a disability.  The goal of the support effort is to provide the student with the best possible access to the material that is being taught.   SAS counselors will be very specific in detailing accommodations. 

Providing accommodations is both a privilege and an obligation of the faculty.  Students with disabilities have a right to access educational opportunity, and we as educators have an obligation to support that access.

Student Accessibility Services is here to support faculty in meeting the educational needs of our students. We seek to work collaboratively with you and your student(s) to create the most effective environment and services for learning. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

What Instructors Should Know About Student Accessibility Services (SAS):

SAS at College of Marin provides equal access to education for students with a wide range of permanent and temporary disabilities, including: learning disabilities, chronic health conditions, psychological disabilities, acquired brain injuries, as well as mobility, vision, and hearing impairments. Our philosophy and mission is to ensure an accessible and welcoming environment for individuals with documented disabilities while ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations.

It is NOT the responsibility of faculty to identify students with disabilities, nor to initiate accommodations, but it would be wise to be familiar with what services and accommodations are available, and there may be instances when it would be appropriate to advise a student to contact SAS. Instructors are encouraged to list Student Accessibility Services as a resource on their syllabi if a student may need services or accommodations.

SAS counselors offer one-to-one counseling accommodations to meet the needs of students who have a verifiable disability. ALL ACCOMMODATIONS REQUIRE an SAS counselor’s written recommendation. Faculty will receive notification of accommodations either directly from SAS or in a letter from SAS delivered by the student.

These accommodations include, but are not limited to, extra test time, note takers, sign language interpreters, equipment (from special furniture to hearing devices to computers with adaptive software), alternate media (such as closed captioned videos, e-text, Braille, etc.), and diagnostic testing and study skills instruction for students with learning disabilities.

SAS also has an Adapted Physical Education program. Our Adapted PE classes are designed to provide an accessible facility for health promotion as well as provide individualized support for adults with disabilities within the community here at COM. The program encourages personal goal development and a positive self-image and well-being through exercise. The environment is uniquely designed for ongoing interaction and support in partnership with SAS.


All courses fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandate that they must be taught through means that are accessible to all students, including those who have disabilities. The statute is clear that the college is responsible for ensuring ADA compliance for all of the courses it offers (whether taught face to face or DE format).

That is, a student who is visually- or hearing-impaired, or who has limitations in mobility, must be able to access all materials for the course in a format they can access.

Under the law, colleges are not permitted to wait until a student with a disability enrolls in a class to make accommodations in a given course.  All courses must be accessible at all times.

We strongly urge you to learn more about how to make your courses compliant because, as you add materials to your courses, you will know how to address these issues.

Please check out the following information in the Policies and Procedures Page of the SAS website:

Faculty Compliance with Accessible Media Laws

Making Webpages Accessible:

SAS can review your course independently and work with you to make the course compliant. Bear in mind that the only concern will be to review your course for ADA access issues; SAS is not looking at your content. For example, if a graph (or any graphic material) that is not accessible to a visually-impaired student, it might need the addition of “clear descriptive text.” In a case where content is presented in auditory form, SAS may add text so that a hearing-impaired student can access the content

Student accessibility services (SAS) CONTACT INFORMATION


The Student Accessibility Services Office can be reached on campus at ext. 7406, or at (415) 485-9406.

At Kentfield the office is located in the Student Services Building First Floor Room 146.

Please see SAS Website for up to date office hours and contact information.

At IVC it is located in Building 27, Room 104 and is available through prescheduled appointment only.