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Top 5 Must Haves for the Perfect Syllabus


What is the one tool that you should invest the most time in at the begging of the school year? Here is a hint it isn't your classroom.

Who Needs a Syllabus?

Every single teacher needs. NO, must have a syllabus. It is THE most important tool you can have for a successful school year. All the cute trim on those bulletin boards, and the matching table supply boxes are great. But your first investment of time needs to be your syllabus. Writing my school syllabus gives me lazar focus for the school year. It is a tool you that you will be going back to as you are planning throughout the school year. You will be asking yourself, “Are my lessons reflecting the beliefs I have for education?”

What is a syllabus?

A syllabus is a single sheet of paper that wraps up who you are, and what the experience will be for the school year.  It is what will be attached to the fridge for most of your parents, and will be refered to for the rest of the school year. Make sure your document is worthy this constant attention.

Top 5 Must Haves for the Perfect Syllabus
1.Meet the teacher

Make your syllabus neat, easy to read, and remember that parents don’t want to have to study it to find the information that want right away. First, always remember graphics are your friend. Chunk the information into categories that make sense and use shapes to guide their eye. Next, I include some resume tidbits (like where I graduated or what my speciality is in…) let parents know you are qualified to facilitate their child’s growth. Also, give parents easy to find contact information along with your conference period. I have had 5 emails from the same parent because I did not respond immediately.  To wrap up my “Meet the teacher” section, I explain (briefly) what my beliefs are about education. I have found that when you explain to parents the driving reason behind your actions they are much more supportive.

2.Rules are rules

Parents and students need to know what the expectations are. By giving everyone the list of behavior standards from day one, you will save yourself time in later contacts with parents if students struggle to meet the expectations. I tell parents my 3 rules for my class. Short and simple.

3.Policies and Procedures

Dr. Wong got it right! The more policies you have the better off your year will be. It is not necessary to include every single policy and process you have for your classroom. However, it does help if you can include a reference to where parents can find them. I keep mine posted on my class website, for those 2 parents during the school year that want to see them. You may want to include at the very least your grade categories and percentage.

4.Supplies for your class

That mother, running late, and desperate to get everyone out of the door on time needs to know the list to yell and as they kids get the final check out the door, “Deodorant, brushed teeth, gym shorts, history spiral- run!” Again use those graphics, make it easy to remember. Prioritize the list, into two groups: daily needs, and classroom needs.  Many parents do not mind chipping and helping to get classroom supplies but don’t tell them their child will be using something daily and then take it from them. That will chap a parent and student super fast. I will buy the fancy markers for my little Pookiebear, but not the 30 other manics in the room. Those darlings can use generic bulk markers from the sale bin.

5-Road Map & Wow’s

The perfect syllabus will include a calendar of learning. It can be as detailed as you wish. I list topics I hope to be discussing each month. Maybe even list the units and the weeks spent on each one. I also use this as an opportunity to let parents know of any additional books we will be reading, and that they may want to purchase. Or I have also used their syllabus as a permission slip for watching a movie that will tie together a great unit. If you are having an end of the year field trip this is also a great tool for getting parent volunteers.

Do you need a head start for the school year? This U. S. History syllabus has everything you need and you can edit, and add to as you see fit. Are you overwhelmed?

Don’t be.Honestly, The Top 5 Must Haves for the Perfect Syllabus are all about communicating with your students and parents. Both want to know you are not a scary monster, and that your care. As long as you communicate that everything else will work out in the end.

And, here is a secret…I have already created a tool for you. Click here, and you for a $1 all of the organizing is done for you, you just fill in your information. Then you can get back to the stuff we love doing, like organizing the classroom centers, and that word wall.



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