As a teacher or professor, the school year can get away from you if you haven’t prepared a comprehensive syllabus for your students. Your students will want to know what books they should get, which assignments to expect, and when to hand them in, and so forth.
A Syllabus Template allows you to inform them beforehand of everything you will be covering that semester – be it a new course or an existing one – so they can prepare themselves. The result will be a successful and coherent school term.
What Is a Syllabus Template?
A syllabus template is a customizable document that outlines the goals, objectives, elements, and content of an academic course. It tells the students what they can expect to do and learn from the class and how they should prepare. Generally, this document is highly versatile and can be used in middle school, grade school, and up to college level.
Most schools have a formal guideline on the format and content of academic syllabi that every teacher must adhere to. If this is true for your school, you should always review the requirements before using a syllabus template. That said, most formats will contain the following details:
- Teacher Description – The teacher’s name, email address, office hours, class schedule, and contact information (phone number).
- Course Description – The course name, schedule, number, credit hours, description, and objectives. The last element explains what the students will learn by taking the course.
- Qualification Criteria – Any pre- or co-requisites that the students must possess in order to take the course, plus all the materials or text they might need.
- Attendance Policy – A review of how unexcused and excused absences and tardiness will affect grading. This policy should be in line with the school guidelines.
- Accommodations Statement – A statement about how your course will accommodate students with disabilities. This is common in colleges.
- Assignment List – An outline of the type and frequency of assignments, quizzes, tests, and exams included in the course and the grading system you will use.
- Academic Procedures – A description of the procedure students must use to submit and resubmit assignments and your policies on late assignments and projects, etc.
- Communication Channels – An explanation of how your students can access information about assignments, updates, and announcements. This should include your contact information and office hours.
- Electronic Devices Policy – Your policies on the use of electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops during lessons or lectures.
- Food and Drink Policy – A statement about whether you allow food and drinks into your class and the specific types that are okay to have during a lesson or lecture.
- The course calendar.
Syllabus Templates & Examples
How to Create an Effective Syllabus
Now that you know what a syllabus should entail, you can easily enter this information into a template to develop an effective syllabus. The following steps will help you do this:
Step 1: Supply General Information
Start by noting the information necessary for your students to understand what the document is about at the top of the page. This includes your name as the teacher, the class location (including virtual classes), the required materials, and a resource center for additional help.
Step 2: Define Your Expectations
Next, give your students the core details of the syllabus that define your expectations. This section should be customized by discipline, teaching methods, preferences, and class culture. Some areas to explain at this stage include:
- Course Description – Describe the course content, i.e., the areas of study you will be focusing on this term. If the course has been taught in the school before, make sure your description is consistent with current listings but customized to your students’ needs.
- Course Objectives – Explain what your students will learn and be able to do after completing the course. Mention and demonstrate the hard and soft skills you will help them achieve.
- Course Expectations – Define what roles you and the students will play for the success of the syllabus, such as complete assignments on time.
Step 3: Describe Syllabus Policies and Resources
This step will help you set the tone for the school term by describing how procedures will run during the course. Here, you get to define the course policies and resources.
- Course Policies – This section should outline your policies on participation, attendance, late assignments, missing grades, and tardiness. It should also be consistent with the school policies, especially if you are required to mention some policies by the administration.
- Resources – Include a segment that provides resources where your students can get help for their academic and personal problems. Some examples you should consider are Mental Health Services, Online Tutorials, Disability Resources, and Outside Reading.
Step 4: Supply the Assignment Schedule
Finally, highlight the type of assignments you will give during the course, when they will be due, and how they will affect the student’s overall grade. Make sure to include your contact information for when your students have questions about the assignments.
Tips for Creating a Syllabus
The Syllabus Template is your chance to articulate your expectations for your students so both sides can have a fruitful school term. Here are some pointers to help you achieve that:
- Use short and easy-to-read sentences and paragraphs
- Arrange your information so that the most important details appear first
- Avoid using acronyms and jargon as much as possible
- When discussing conduct, use language consistent with school policies
- If you use uncommon terms, define them in an appendix
- Use clear headers, elements, and visuals that help your students understand the syllabus.
- Use tables and lists to foster smooth navigation.
Tips to Make Sure Your Students Read the Syllabus
If you just give your students the syllabus, chances are very high that they won’t look at it, let alone read and understand it – all your work will have been for nothing. This means that your job doesn’t end when you create the syllabus; you must get your students to read it. These tips should help you:
- Make Time – During the first lesson of the semester, hand out the syllabus templates and give your students a few minutes to go through them.
- Test Them – If the students are young, consider playing a game with them to gauge their understanding of what they have read. You can quiz older students.
- Get Confirmation – Finally, have the students or their parents sign a form indicating they have read and understood the syllabus.
When it comes to a Syllabus Template, the style and formatting are just as important as the content. Did you know that close to 79 percent of readers only skim the pages rather than read a piece of writing? You can increase the likelihood of your students reading your syllabus by condensing it, including visuals, and writing in easy-to-understand language. You should also follow up with them to check if they read and understood the document.