Syllabi as Conversations

A syllabus is when you students cross the threshold into your home. For many of them it is your introduction. They meet you through your syllabus before they meet you in person. So make it good. Make it sing. Write it with the goal that they hope you email and push the start date up on class. Craft it so they tell their friends and family how excited they are.

Whet their appetite.
Then set the table.
Crack out the silver.
Who are you saving it for?
Students are so very worthy.
Create a class where they pick up polished spoons
and admire their smiling faces.
Marveling.

A syllabus is your first shot at voice.
It can convey respect.
It can convey accountability: yours and theirs.
It can convey joy in learning and sharing.
It can convey so much more than deadlines, though those are important too.

Expectations are made visible in a syllabus.
Teaching philosophy is made visible in a syllabus.
The arc of the class is made visible in a syllabus.
You are taking them on a journey.
Tell them what they need to pack.
Where you will bunk down.
What you’ll be doing for food.
And emergency preparedness is taken care of.
Do not make them guess on your intentions.

A syllabus is the first impression that will form your relationship
with each student.
They will see you and hear you in your words.
They will arrive at class in a mood
Related to the tone of your syllabus.

The best syllabi are great storytellers.
They are vivid and clear.
They are captivating.
They build worlds with words that students want to enter.
Happily.
They reveal to each student
That they are the main character and the author.
They control both narratives.
A syllabus creates firm footing.

A syllabus understands pairings, like a fine meal.
Learning goals are tied to assignments.
A natural twinning.
You cannot imagine one without the other.

A syllabus is the start of a conversation
That could go
all
night
long.

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