Hi! So I'm at the very beginning stages of preparing for my first year teaching (10th and 11th English), and I need help: what do you put in a syllabus? I know the basics are what the class will cover, and what my expectations are for student behavior. I should probably also include grading policy, late work policy, and consequences for misbehaving. (Haven't been to orientation yet, so no idea how much leeway I have on any of this...) What am I missing?
For my general classes, I use the general course description from the state DOE and a list of “major works covered.” For college credit classes I actually do a week by week syllabus of readings/due dates. Those kids actually need and use them for planning.
I really wouldn’t sweat student behavior because your school should have a board approved student handbook that addresses that. You *may* want to have specifics about your policies that aren’t specified in the handbook or that don’t run counter to it. For example, my school doesn’t have a late work policy, but they do have an homework-absence policy. So I have specified I don’t accept late work, but I do give extensions if students ask for more time before the deadline.
Again, grading policy should be in the handbook unless you’re doing something specific that isn’t against the school’s, such as a weighted category policy (Tests, 40%; homework, 25%, etc…)
Don’t list consequences. You’re immediately setting up negatives. Instead of saying “Students will not…” Set up positive executives of behavior. “Students will be prepared for class. Students will respect others’ views and experiences. Students will ask for extensions when needed. Students will complete work within three days of an absences…” Like I said before: Your consequences will be outlined the handbook, and there is a lot you will encounter on a day to day basis: “Susie. I told you to put your phone away once. If I have to tell you again, I confiscate, as per page 20 of the handbook.” Done. problem solved.
I also stopped printing a syllabus. I made one on Google Sites. That way I can edit it as needed (especially for the week by week college class), and save paper. I don’t really “go over” it other than to show kids were to find it and point out policies significant to me (late work no, extensions yes; weighted categories. etc.)