...and all through the house, every kiddo was in bed--except mom, who's at the computer staring intently at her syllabus, going line by line through the entire thing, making sure that it's perfect.
I do love a finished syllabus. It is a thing of beauty. That's not to say that my students find my syllabus beautiful (ha. double ha.), but I think they *mostly* appreciate its organization.
Despite all the work I'm putting into the syllabus, I'm not spending more than 30 seconds on it for the first day of class. I'm trying something new, something different, something that is becoming the trendy thing to do amongst professors trying to engage students:
Don't talk about the syllabus on the first day.
It's counter-intuitive to how I learn (and teach), but I know students bore easily, particularly with directions that don't have much context.
And so I'm handing out the syllabus at the end of class along with a syllabus quiz (I will resist calling it a scavenger hunt because I dislike academic "scavenger hunts" that try to disguise a boring task as fun). Some professors don't talk about the syllabus at all, but I'm teaching mostly freshmen who might need a little bit of guidance in knowing what's important, so I have to make sure they at least look at the syllabus and realize lots of important things are on it.
Of course, if ALL the teachers at my school waited until the second day to talk about the syllabus...well, then, that'd be crazy.
I'm trying a few other new things on the first day--for instance, instead of going through the roster and doing the traditional roll call where I mispronounce a half dozen names, I'm having the students introduce themselves. I'm also going to attempt to start class with a discussion. It could totally bomb, partly because energy is usually low on the first day of classes like mine, and partly because I'm terrible at leading discussions. It is not my strength. I work at it, and sometimes succeed. Hopefully tomorrow is one of those "sometimes." I have noticed that it's really important to set the tone on the first day, and the tone I want is community and humor. It's what makes a potentially terrifying class not so scary...because did you know that some people find public speaking scary? It's true.
So, first day. Tomorrow. So far I have 24 students in one class and 14 in the other. Fourteen is not great, but it's better than 13 or 12 or 11, so that's good.
Expect a full report on the happenings tomorrow!