I don’t think many people value the first impression enough.

Today’s case study:

Today, I met my Composition I students for the fall semester. I’m teaching 7 classes total. One doesn’t start until next week. Another doesn’t start until October. And another is online. So I’m fortunate to be able to phase myself in to meeting more than 150 new young adults. Today’s class began at noon. In my experience, noon classes are rough. I call them nooners. They’re not focused. They want to be in and out. They’re squirrelly. They like to push the envelope a bit more. They’re all pills.

I went in today with an open mind. After all, I was more than excited to start the new year. There’s always a heightened sense of excitement when I start the year healthy and rested. Three of my students scattered throughout the room failed my Composition I class last semester. But they were excited, nonetheless, to see me. It’s a testament, I think, to the atmosphere in my classroom when even those who don’t pass return for a second round, especially when there are 50 other sections for them to choose. The first question one girl asked me was, “How’s the Crohn’s?”

I sort of smiled bashfully, not realizing how much I must have talked last spring about my ailment.

“It’s doing just fine,” I told her. “Thanks for remembering.”

“Hard to forget.”

I didn’t ask what that meant.

For first impressions, I thought she set a good one for this semester. Concerned about someone else. Polite.

And then there was this gem.

I asked each student a different ice-breaker question as I went around the room trying to get to know them. We laughed at all the answers. And then:

“OK, next.” I pointed to a young girl in a yellow sweatshirt (on an 85-degree day). “If you knew you were in your final days, what would be your last meal?”

Without hesitation, she said, “Weed.”

Folks who know me will attest that I am rarely speechless, especially given the many crazy antics that often define my classrooms. But for a first day, my jaw did drop.

“I thought we were being honest,” she said.

“Thank you,” I said, more like a question.

“OK, next. You, sir, in the red shirt. What website do you frequent the most?”

His face went red, and the class giggled.

And I said, “Nevermind.”