Sometimes it feels like writing a syllabus is an exercise in trying to prevent students from finding loopholes so that they can blame me for whatever goes wrong.
It's the "but you didn't say on the assignment sheet that we had to cite the text, so how can you grade me down for that?"
And, "but you didn't say I couldn't copy from S*notes to do the assignment, and it's too hard to do myself!"
Or, "but I emailed it to you before midnight, how could you count it late?"
So then I end up writing in the syllabus that I don't accept work by email but then there's a student who has a health issue and needs to email things and doesn't think I'll accept it, so I add a phrase about "without express permission," and before long, I'm handing out a 6 page syllabus that sounds like bad lawyer language and doesn't convey anything about how exciting it is to study Shakespeare. The next phase is that I cut out a bunch of the lawyer language, and try to get across my excitement about the texts, but them someone insists on handing in scrawled assignments and complains that I didn't tell them that they couldn't handwrite their work, and the legalistic stuff starts in again. And around I go.
But it doesn't matter, because even if I put in there that I don't accept emailed assignments, students still email me assignments because they don't remember seeing it on the syllabus or going over it the first day, and why would they, since it's an 8 page syllabus by that time.
And we're all supposed to tell students on EVERY syllabus what the goals of the school are. (Does anyone else have to do this?) Because somehow, if students know what the goals are, then they'll tell the assessment folks that yes, they know what the goals of the school are, as if somehow us telling them that they're supposed to learn critical thinking skills actually contributes in any way whatsoever to their actually learning critical thinking skills.
I wonder how much paper we collectively waste every semester with our goals statements? I'm less bothered that we put in statements about accomodating people with special needs or how to get help from the deans' office. But I hate the goals statements. At least no one is telling me I have to put a FERPA statement and a full explanation of their FERPA rights on every syllabus. (Just wait, though, some assessment person will read this and think, hey, what a great idea!)
I have one class pretty much done, calendar, syllabus, and all assignments.
I have another class partially done, calendar, assignments thought of but not written down. Syllabus can be partially canibalized.
I have another class hardly worked on. I got to the point in the calendar when I need to do a library day, and I don't want to have to totally rearrange things if the library can't do the day I've requested.
I have one big committee task done, two thank you letters (one more to do) and some office cleanup.
I wish it would warm up enough to make going outside minimally pleasant. (While it's in the teens, the wind chill makes it closer to 1F. That's minus 11 and minus 17 for the Celsius folks among us. Celsius always makes winter sound much tougher, doesn't it?