I have been thinking carefully about my own syllabus for my Senior English class this year after looking at those of other teachers. Some teachers’ syllabi run as long as six pages, which is a lot of paper. The question is what one wants to and can accomplish through such a document. I want to frame my course, offer up a sense of the menu for the year, without getting overly bogged down in policies and specifics which, if challenged in most cases, will not be resolved because my syllabus said I do or do not accept, do, or ban one thing or another. I also want my syllabus to model what I am trying to teach: communication that should be clear, correct, concise, and generally effective as a result of the design of the document.
I also want to use it to briefly introduce myself and cultivate some sense of what the course will be about and I will be expecting from them. I want to give the kids enough info to arouse interest without giving away the whole year. Think of it as a sort of curricular amuse bouche.
Here is my Senior English syllabus, which I sent them home with tonight and sent a digital copy to my students’ parents along with a note as follow up and a way to introduce myself.
One day down, all the rest to go. If they are all even half as good as the first day today, we are in for a great year.