Dear Students,

I’ve been working on my first letter to you.  Here are some in-progress pictures. I want to send it your way a few weeks before our semester begins.  One of the things you’ll have to do is pick a character name for yourself. You can tell people your real name, but when we are in class we will always use our character names.

One of my favorite parts of getting ready for class is finding out what names you have picked for yourself.

My Fall Semester name will be Professor SETI.

For now, I maintain my summer aspect: Professor Squirrelhead.


Sneak peek! Professor Bootsy’s new book debuts at SPX this weekend in Washington DC. Can you DIG it? We KNEW that you COULD!

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor

Published by Drawn and Quarterly, Monteal

"It's in the syllabus"

I just bought this shirt:

My students seem to expect that the information in the syllabus will somehow be magically embedded in their brains even if they don’t read it. This has occasionally led to difficulties, with previous students kvetching about “not knowing” that attendance was worth 10% of their marks, that late papers are given a reduction of 3% off per day, that there is actually a set appeals policy requiring a written response to my comments, etc etc etc. Readers, do you think it is appropriate to wear this shirt at key moments during the terms (e.g., before exams and paper due dates)? Will my students see the humour in this? Ha!


Lynda Barry, Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor

For the past decade, Barry has run a highly popular writing workshop for nonwriters called Writing the Unthinkable, which was featured in The New York Times Magazine. Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor is the first book to make her innovative lesson plans and writing exercises available to the public for home or classroom use. Barry teaches a method of writing that focuses on the relationship between the hand, the brain, and spontaneous images, both written and visual. It has been embraced by people across North America—prison inmates, postal workers, university students, high-school teachers, and hairdressers—for opening pathways to creativity.

Syllabus takes the course plan for Barry’s workshop and runs wild with it in her densely detailed signature style. Collaged texts, ballpoint-pen doodles, and watercolor washes adorn Syllabus’s yellow lined pages, which offer advice on finding a creative voice and using memories to inspire the writing process. Throughout it all, Barry’s voice (as an author and as a teacher-mentor) rings clear, inspiring, and honest.

So! Excited! Comes out in October. Just pre-ordered the shit out of it.

Lynda’s class tumblr is the best. And Lynda is the best.

Filed under: Lynda Barry

A Learner-Centered Syllabus Helps Set the Tone for Learning

“A lot of times I feel that students think that a course happens at them and they’re not truly engaged and a part of the learning experience,” Paff said. “If the syllabus is structured in a way and the content is delivered in a way that they’re an active part of what happens in the class, and they have some control over how they learn and what they learn, then the random arbitrariness of learning is minimized.”

With a new school year about to begin, take some time to reflect on how you would characterize the tone of your syllabus and what you could do to make it more learner-centered.