Crafting the Syllabus

A syllabus is an important document. It introduces your students to your class, your policies, and your expectations. I give students a copy of it. They also get a home contact sheet where I collect their parent/guardians information and have both them and the student sign a statement on it that they received the syllabus and understand the policies. I also make the syllabus available on our Google Classroom for easy student reference.

For the high school classroom consider including these policies and expectations in your syllabus:

  • Break down of grades (categories, weights, etc.)
  • Late work policy (or statement that late work is not accepted)
  • Makeup work policy
  • Technology policy (think about cellphones, smartwatches, tablets, etc.)
  • Restroom use policy (unless your school has a campus wide policy that you follow)
  • Cheating/Plagiarism Policy (or a statement reminding them that this policy is in the school student handbook if that applies)
  • Class Rules/Expectations
  • Supply List
  • Remind sign up info (or whatever site you use if you use one)
  • Any information for a class website, Google Classroom, etc.
  • Expectations for how to turn in work (Do you have a bin? Do you take assignments electronically? When is an assignment considered late?)

If you search Pinterest or teacher blogs you will see several beautiful syllabi with images and magazine style layouts. Those are eye catching but don’t feel pressured to make yours look like that if you don’t have the skill or the time. What’s important is the content in the syllabus rather than the way your syllabus looks style wise.

I got the job! Now what?

First year secondary teachers, congratulations on your first teaching job! There is a lot to do to prepare for the year beyond curriculum stuff. You need to think about the following:

  • Will you accept late work? If yes, under what conditions?
  • How will you make sure students receive and turn in makeup work?
  • How will students turn in assignments?
  • How will you organize the papers that you need to grade, enter in the grade-book, file, document, or hand back?
  • What are your classroom rules? Consequences for breaking the rules? Rewards for following them? How will you keep track of consequences and rewards?
  • How will you deal with cellphones, smartwatches, tablets, etc.?
  • How will you manage classroom supplies?
  • What about your restroom policy? How will you handle students request to leave the classroom?
  • How will you document and track frequent behavior issues or missing/incomplete work?
  • How will you keep track of parent contact?
  • How will you keep track of RTI you have implemented?
  • How will you document accommodations or modifications that you have followed for students receiving such things?
  • What is your cheating policy?
  • What is your routine for starting class? Will you have a bell ringer activity? What about a routine for ending class? Will you have an exit ticket?
  • Create a substitute binder or folder and put together emergency sub plans for times when you are unexpectedly too sick to come in.