Monday, August 2, 2010

My Syllabi Are Ready

Every educator experiences this nightmare for weeks before the new semester begins. In the nightmare, the classes are about to begin but your syllabi are not ready. You run over to the copier, and it breaks down on you. You find a working copier but discover that your syllabi are missing some crucial pages. Or they are all wrong. Or they are simply not finished. You scramble to redo them but the time is running out. The culmination of the nightmare is your shameful entrance into the classroom with no syllabi to hand out. As any educator will tell you, this dream is a lot more humiliating than any dream in which you parade naked in the streets of your town.

So I'm proud to report that this year I will finally not stress about the syllabi not being ready. Because I finished all three of my syllabi and even sent them to the copy center already. And it's only August 2. Taking into the account that two of the preparations were completely new to me with one being a graduate course on a topic far removed from my area of expertise (by my own choice), this is a huge achievemeny indeed.

This is one of the benefits of having 4-month-long holidays: you get everything done well in advance.


Pagan Topologist said...

This is one of the legalistic things that I am not sure is an improvement. When I began as an assistant professor in 1968, I never wrote a syllabus. I just described in a fifteen or twenty minute introduction the first day what we would do. a few years later we were required to provide written syllabi for each course we were teaching. I have refined the process to the point that I can get ready pretty quickly, but I think the only advantage is that the agreement is in writing if a student complains.

However, I have sometimes figured out ways to use the grading policies of the syllabus to motivate students to work more consistently.

Clarissa said...

My syllabi are very detailed and run for many pages (often, over 10 pages). I use them in lieu of class plans. With a syllabus like that, I don't have to prepare my classes during the semester.

Of course, the administration is trying to make this process as formalistic and as stupid as possible. I will write about it at length later.