First day of class means a lot to both the students and the instructors. But I think, being a student for a long time myself, it means more to the students. They want to know what they are getting themselves into. They are anxious to know if their instructor is going to make this semester easy and smooth on them or not. Is he another [stupid] boring professor or smart and funny?
The culture of building rapport in the first day in class in Jordanian universities is rarely practiced. In its best scenario it involves the instructor explaining the syllabus and telling the students what textbook is used as a reading material or reference. Also, if the class size is manageable the instructor reads the students names as a way of breaking the ice and knowing their names. In the four years of my bachelor degree I never knew anything about any of the professors other than their names. Believe it or not, many of them don’t even bother telling their names to students. They don’t think it plays any role in the advancement of learning.
In American universities, the issue of building rapport is well practiced but of course it varies a lot from one instructor to another. But mainly, it involves the instructor telling or revealing to students more about him/her than just his/her name. Some instructors tell their students how long they have been teaching, where did they study, where they came from, etc. This information helps break the ice and establishes some kind of socializing with students.
In the first day of class I use the world map and tell students that I am from Jordan and show them where it is in the map and complain how far it is from here. I tell them that Arabic is my first language not English “if you are wondering about the accent”.
Back home I used to think that my instructors were from a different planet because most of them rarely socialize with their students.