Help New Students Feel Welcome in Your Class, Pt 2: Before Class

New students come to class with their emotions on high alert. “Will I like the class?” “Can I do it?” Will I be embarrassed?” Their defenses are up. Their own nervousness about the newness of the situation causes them to be hypersensitive to anything you say or do. This fact can work either to your benefit or harm. If you say the wrong thing, you can easily scare the new student away. If you say the right thing, you may turn that new student into a participant for life. Seemingly small things can be very important to help new students.

In part 1 of this series, we addressed how to evaluate and improve your own attitude toward new students. In parts 2 and 3 we will discuss some of the practical things you can do to help new students feel especially welcomed in your class. Part 4 will finish with an example of a new student handout and provide tips on creating your own.

In this article, I want to help you:

  • Develop confidence about how to help new students before class.
  • Learn how to do a quick setup for a new student.
  • Be clear about the most important quick points to tell a new student.


Most of your work helping new students is done in the few minutes before class. This time is limited, and crucial. You must have a plan to use this time effectively. Otherwise you may waste it.


  1. I’ve been teaching at a university for about five years and have about 30 bikes this has been the strangest semester due to the fact every class 98% of the students are first timers. I am having 15 min or less to setup a majority of the class on their bike. So I changed how I teach during the warmups I walk around and use most of the pointers you listed.

    Especially the ones who come in saying I heard this was hard and I say no it challenging but you have the control in your hand enjoy the ride raise your hand if something feels off your safety is most important to me. At the end of class I run to the door and thank and fist bump every student.

    1. Author

      It is strange to have so many first-timers. I am particularly glad that you see the need to get off your bike in this circumstance.
      And even though it doesn’t have to do with new riders directly, I love you saying good bye to your students at the door. It sounds like you are doing a great job, Scott.

  2. You make me feel good! You touched on all the things I try to cover in my class, with the exception of letting the new student pick their bike, (great explanation why) and writing their bike settings on a card. We have an attendance sheet for each class and I record the bike settings there. It is kept in my folder in the office. This way I have a running record and I have one less thing to carry in my kit.

    1. Author

      That’s terrific, Robert! You are doing it well. I just this morning had a private session with two new students. It was fantastic to have the time to walk them through everything. It seems to me the really hard part is figuring out what a new student most needs when only a short time is available. i love that you’re taking such good care of your newbies. I am certain that they appreciate you.

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