Sunday, January 07, 2007

The dreaded document

I'll admit it. I've been pretty sunshine-and-roses about the whole teaching thing. There is one thing I really hate about it.

Writing the syllabus.

I hate doing this. I've been "at it" (and by at it, I mean reading other people's blogs, chatting with friends, and being in the general vicinity of the computer without actually typing anything) for a few days now. I have one completely finished, but it doesn't really count because someone who has taught the class before forwarded me his syllabus, and I changed all instances of his name to mine, and fixed the dates to relate to this year. I've completed the course outline for the second syllabus, and the third? Well, the outline is filled out in relation to the dates the class will be meeting, anyway.

Of course, this is all kinds of bad, because I've left to last the syllabus I'm designing myself. I have some syllabi from other schools that I'm using for reading assignments and things like that, but of course I'll skew it to artists I know a little something about.

God, I hate doing this. The worst part is the introduction to the syllabus, or the "cover your ass section" as I like to call it. I have some re-wording to do of last semester's syllabus. I feel like I have to clearly state everything, and have a policy in place for just about every excuse and mistake that can be made.

Late paper? 5 point deduction for each day late. But does that include weekend days? I don't know. working on that one.
Miss an exam? Must contact me before the exam starts by email in order to begin arrangements. Working pretty well. Stole it from one of my favorite profs.
Attendance? Now see, this one is rough. I don't care if they come to class or not. Really, I don't. But there is a 10 per cent part of their grades that is based on attendance. But I don't like to keep roll, this ain't high school, ladies. So I'm also still working on this one.

I fear a growing syllabus. I also fear not covering something and have it throw me. And mutinies and people barfing in class. Among other fears. But this part of the semester is the worst part.

Except for the part when I have already made 30 copies of the syllabus and find that I've, oh, maybe, spelled my own name wrong. That may or may not have happened.


Anonymous said...

isn't that just plagiarism -- copying the syllabus and changing names. sounds like what students do when they cheat.

Art Nerd Lauren said...

Plagiarism? No, I don't think it is. I'm teaching the same exact class at the same school with the same requirements. If I were doing that with the class I was designing myself, I think it would be. But why type the whole thing out again if the other prof was kind enough to give me the file?

Frema said...

Maybe it's the nerd in me, but I love the idea of designing a syllabus, with all the organizing and scheduling. LOVE.

TasterSpoon said...

Yes, I much prefer making lists (shopping lists! dinner party invitees! training schedules!) to executing them. I guess the problem with syllabi is that, unlike with my lists, when you don't execute, somebody's gonna notice.

Melissa said...

I have two favorite parts of my syllabus (because, girl, you can't cover everything and I have stopped trying):

1) "Grades are ultimately at the discretion of the instructor."

2) "The instructor reserves the right to make verbal or written changes to the syllabus at any time. All changes and exceptions are at the instructor’s discretion."

If you want any more examples of syllabi, just holler! God knows I looked at a bunch when I created mine.

Teacher lady said...

Did I ever send you a copy of mine? You're welcome to it. Attendance grades - if I'm not too late, DON'T do it. I did it the first couple of semesters I taught and NEVER again. Although I'd like to think I'm not a huge believer in the "slippery slope" concept, it's a slippery slope. What is an "excused" absence and what is "unexcused" - not according to the university but according to you. What if a non-traditional student has a sick child? Not excused according to most schools' rules and regulations, but would you rather the student brought the little germ factory to class? Sorry for the bossiness. I'm done now.