Drafing the Syllabus

I used to mock the overly extended syllabus – five to six pages of nonsense. And here I am creating one. In between all of the things I am required to include, meaning multiple college policies, and the things I wish to include, basically what the course will cover, I am up to to five pages.

I think such lengthy syllabuses are unnecessary, superfluous, and [insert a synonymous adjective in here].

After I am done outlining all sorts of objectives, prerequisites, and legal business, I get to the actual coursework. This is fine, but as I am breaking down the workload over a weekly schedule I find that this semester has entirely too many holidays. Unfortunately the class I am working on now falls on a Monday, which happens to be the day of the week that incurs the most breaks. In between Labor Day, Veterans’s Day and Thanksgiving (I know it is not on a Monday, but I suspect many will miss class), I will have to finagle everything in much less time than I originally intended.

I am also required to give at least one in-class lengthily writing assignment that I had not previously allotted time for. I chose a midterm as it is the least intrusive. As a student in English courses I very much disliked in-class finals, so I don’t think I want to impart that on anyone else.  I *thought* my Monday syllabus was all done, but I wasn’t taking into consideration the in-class assignment, so I have to move things around some more. I could in theory teach the day of the midterm, but again, as a student I absolutely hated it when the professor taught the same day as an in-class exam. My brain just didn’t want to deal with it. So back to planning.

This in-class writing business takes away another class period, and further shortens my teaching time. Mind you, I am not necessarily looking for extra teaching time. I swear I don’t actually like creating more work for myself. Really, I promise I don’t. What? Don’t look at me like that!

I just happened to pick a rather ambitious reading selection and I want to make sure my students actually understand the material before I send them on their merry way.  If they come out of this with nothing else, I want them to be able to briefly summarize the main points of these works, or at the very least adequately recognize the works should they be referenced elsewhere. Ideally I would like them to start questioning things they take for granted, and use the lessons from the book we are reading to further analyze their lives and surroundings. Some will do all of the above, others will do some, and some will do none. I understand.

After I manipulate the schedule around like a jigsaw puzzle, I have to include my disclaimer on plagiarism. I warn them they will earn a fail on the material plagiarized, and I will be obliged to inform the dean of students. I remind them that the entire process is exceedingly cumbersome on both our ends, so it would be in everyone’s favor if they simply refrain from doing it.

All of that took five pages. And I am exhausted.

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