22-Page Syllabus Template Helps Professors Set Tone for Learning

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“I can’t wait to start the semester with my new syllabus [left],” said one professor. “My old form didn’t come anywhere close to to covering the details necessary to run an excellent class.”
To assist educators in developing their content and pedagogical approach to classes this year, The Journal of Best Classroom Practices has published a new model syllabus.

For several years, we’ve heard from instructors that they struggle to address issues of incivility and disengagement in their classes,” said Journal editor Max Suggs. “At our conferences, we discuss ways to address inappropriate student behavior, but we always stress the importance of setting clear expectations at the beginning of each semester in order to prevent the problems from happening to begin with.

The Journal assigned a task force to collect the best syllabi components from instructors from across the country. The team developed a 22-page template instructors can adapt to their own classes. Included in the document is an extensive list of behavioral expectations professors can address. Sample expectations include:

  • Be on time
  • No laptops
  • No cell phones
  • No ear buds
  • No pencils or pens that could be used for doodling
  • No open notebooks that could be used for doodling
  • No open books that could be distracting
  • No whispering
  • No interrupting the flow of the professor with questions that could have been answered with information from the assigned reading
  • No crunchy food
  • No delicious-smelling food
  • No Beiber haircuts
  • No distracting t-shirt art with pop culture references the professor wouldn’t get
  • No boredom

We addressed every possible classroom disruption we could think of,” said Suggs. “We predict that with the model syllabus, we could virtually eliminate any behavior that takes away from the teaching environment.”

Thank goodness for this resource,” said math professor Alyssa Ballard from Laybourne University. “The classroom has become a hostile place for educators – especially since technology has threatened our authority. Last year, I had students Googling formulas I gave them and claiming that I made a mistake – right in the middle of class! This kind of disrespect is unprecedented. I’m glad to have education experts getting my back. It might take me two or three class periods to cover the material in the syllabus at the start of the semester, but the peace will be worth it.”

I don’t necessarily agree with all of the expectations outlined in the model, but I did want to adapt parts of the syllabus for my classes,” said Raelynn Palmer, who teaches Contemporary Marketing with New Media at Fountain Hills College. “Unfortunately, The Journal didn’t offer an electronic version to download.”

That’s terrific feedback for our publication,” said Suggs. “Still, we have to trust that college professors are creative, resourceful professionals. We’ve done our part by sending out a top-quality printed journal. Now it’s up to the professors to take it to the next level.”