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A syllabus template is a document which contains the elements, goals, and content of an entire course. Through it, the students find out about the type of learning and teaching they can expect from a class. Therefore, you must put a lot of thought into the course syllabus template if you’re tasked to create one.
Information to include on your syllabus
Before distributing the syllabus template you made to your students, you must have it approved by your school’s administration first, especially if it’s your first time to teach in the school. Doing this ensures that the college syllabus template, high school syllabus template or middle school syllabus template contains everything required by the institution.
It’s important for the syllabus to be in line with the policies of the school. It’s also important for the administrator to know how you plan to teach the lessons and concepts in the course to your students. You can either send your completed syllabus to the administrator through email or by submitting a printed copy of it.
Each school may have its own requirements for the format and contents of the course syllabus template. Most of the time though, you should include this basic information:
- The details about the teacher including his name, contact number, email address, and office hours or class schedule.
- The details about the course including the course name, the schedule of the course, the course number if applicable, and the credit hours.
- The description of the course which is a short overview of what it covers for the whole year or term.
- Any prerequisites or co-requisites of the course for the students to know if they already possess all the requirements to take it.
- The objectives of the course which refers to what the student learns after taking the course.
- Any required resources, text or materials the students need to take the course.
Whether you’re making a college syllabus template, a high school syllabus template or a middle school syllabus template, it must contain all of this information. Most of the time, you also have to include other content on the template. This includes:
- Attendance Policy
When it comes to the statements of your attendance policy, be as specific as you can. Talk about excused absences, tardiness, unexcused absences, and how these will affect the grades of the students. Check with your school’s policies to make sure that the policies you create align with them.
- Communication Policy
Specify the channels your students may access and how often if they need information about your course, learn about announcements or updates, and contact you. These days, there are so many means of communication. Therefore, you need to clarify the acceptable means to your students so they know exactly how to get in touch with you or learn more about your course.
- Electronic Devices Policy
State your policy regarding the use of electronic devices like laptops, cell phones, and more in class. Also, include information about whether you’ll make exceptions for students with accommodations.
- Food and Drink Policy
Explain your policy regarding your students eating or drinking in class. If you allow this, specify the types of food or beverages which aren’t allowed.
- Accommodations Statement
If you’re creating a college syllabus template, ask your school if you need to include a statement about accommodating students with disabilities.
- Assignment List or Course Requirements
Describe the grading system you plan to use for your course. What types of assignments will you give? Will you give quizzes and tests? If you will, specify how these will affect the grades of your students. This way, they know what to expect from the start.
- Academic Procedures and Policies
Explain how your students must submit their assignments, your policy on late projects or assignments, resubmissions, academic integrity, and so on.
- Course Calendar
Among all of the information on your syllabus template, this takes the most time to make. But this is an important part to help you make sure that you’re always on track for the whole term. You may include “TBA” in some spaces if you’re not sure about some of the activities in your calendar.
Tips for writing a syllabus
A syllabus is a short introduction to an educational course and it’s common on different levels. Your students can use it as a reference regarding your course content, course procedures, and more. But writing this template isn’t as simple as it might seem.
Apart from including the basic information about your course, you must include other information too. The good news is that once you get the hang of creating the template, the process becomes a lot easier. To help you get started, here are some tips for you:
Part 1: The basic information
- Open a new document in the word processing software of your choice. Choose the proper margins, layout, and font types as required by your school.
- The first information to place in your document is your identification information. This tells your students more about you and the title of your course.
- Come up with the course description which describes your course in such a way that provides your students and their parents with an idea about the content of your course. Don’t use a lot of technical jargon to ensure that the information is easily understood.
- Outline the objectives of the course for the students to know what they will accomplish after taking your course.
- List any co-requisites or prerequisites to your course. This ensures that your students know whether or not they’re prepared to take your course.
- List all of the required materials for your course. This includes any books, software, hardware, art supplies, and so on.
- Include a short statement about the organization and format of your course.
Part 2: Outline the policies and schedule
- Describe the policy regarding how you plan to evaluate and grade your students.
- Include specific information about your assignment policy. This gives your students an idea of what happens to their grades if they miss or submit any incomplete assignments.
- Provide the schedule of your course. This is a very important part of the syllabus so make sure that you put a lot of thought into it.
- List the policies of your course and your classroom. This includes your rules along with academic and behavioral expectations.
Part 3: Add administrative and institutional language
- You may also want to inform your students about any learning support services your institution offers. These may help promote the success of your students and they’re available to students whether or not they have disabilities.
• Write the policy for any syllabus changes. This lets your students know that it’s your right to make any changes to the syllabus throughout the year or the term as long as you give advance notice.
• Include a statement about the drop/add policy of your institution if applicable. This gives your students an idea of how they can drop your class if they need to without worrying about an academic penalty.
• Address the honor code policy of your institution by including it in your document.
• Outline the emergency procedures of your institution if required by the policies.
Part 4: Include legal statements
- Mention any policies regarding religious holidays your students might choose to take.
- Address the American with Disabilities Act or ADA as this is a requirement by the federal law.
- Address the federal privacy law along with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA.
Making sure that your students read the syllabus
Most of the time, just handing the syllabus template to your students isn’t a guarantee that they’ll read it. If you email the syllabus to your students, there’s an even smaller chance that they will open the email to read the contents. So what should you do? Here are some tips for you:
- Give your students time
On the first day of school, set aside a couple of minutes to give your students time to read the whole syllabus. Distribute the document at the start of the class and provide the time for them to read it. This works better than when you just give the syllabus at the end of the class for the students to take home.
If you want to make it even more effective, encourage your students to go through the document and highlight the most important points. Then encourage them to ask questions if there’s anything in the course syllabus template that they don’t understand.
- Quiz your students about the contents of the syllabus
If you really want to know how much your students understood the syllabus, you may create a short quiz about its contents. Although this doesn’t work for everybody, you may want to try it.
- Play a game after they’ve read the syllabus
A more fun way of checking whether your students understood the contents of the syllabus or not is by playing a game with them. There are so many creative games you can play with your students to gauge their understanding. This works best for younger students.
- Let your students sign a form
Finally, you may ask your students or their parents to sign a form which states that they’ve read and understood the syllabus you distributed. This keeps you safe in case there are any complaints about anything on your syllabus.
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