Teaching in the morning is a great way to start the day. Here are a few of the ways that I like to start a class (and it's good to remind myself of this since I'm about to go teach in 5 minutes).

1. Ask "What's going on in the world?" - and see what they say
2. Ask about a pop-culture event's importance as if you don't know a thing about it; gets them talking and working together trying to explain it to you. (I plan to use 50 cent & Kanye West today)
3. Put a picture from the news, political cartoon, or other image up on the screen or overhead and ask "What does this mean?" (BBC News has a great section of pictures from around the globe that are great for this exercise).

These three work well for me in starting the class, getting the minds ready and willing to be engaged. I remind myself of Cicero's instructions to those making legal speeches, that the Exordium should be the part of the speech that "prepares the hearers' mind for what you are about to say."

Very often I forget that students are coming from other classes, lives and events and I just launch into the material I need to cover for that session. I need to be more attentive to the preparation of their minds the way a chef gives attention to "plating" a meal. (Thank you to Top Chef for teaching me that word).