Give them a good syllabus.
As you get more experienced, your syllabus can be more detailed and, I believe, it should be. But at the beginning at least let them know what you will be reading, writing, and covering each week.
Go over the syllabus.
They aren’t going to read it if you don’t present it. So go over it, at least mentioning the major sections.
Ask them to agree they have read the syllabus.
If you do this, you must go over each section. But it is a good thing to do to stave off, “But I didn’t know that.”
You can have them sign a paper saying they agree to abide by the class rules. Those should be spelled out in the syllabus as well.
Get them talking to each other and grouping together.
I go around the class and ask students their names and a question or two. These are usually things like favorite restaurant or band. Then I have students get in groups of two or three and ask each other questions, such as major, family, work, and where they are from. Then the students introduce each other.
This gives everyone in the class something to say that is easy (because it is about someone else) and it gives me two chances on the first day to match the names with the faces.
It also makes them aware of people in the class they have things in common with. After this intro I will often say things like, “So we have three nursing majors. Yall raise your hands.” That way it helps reinforce possible groups.
This is important because students who are involved with other students on campus are more likely to stay in college. (Obviously if they are partying with them non-stop that won’t work, but if they’re going to do that they won’t need my help.)
After that, I go through the roll and try to match each student. I’m usually about 85% successful. Then I offer an extra credit quiz on student names or points if someone thinks they can name everyone.