Back to School 2023 – How to Make a “One” Page Syllabus in 6 Steps

Last week I was back at school for two days. One day was spent in my classroom putting together documents and materials for the new year. The other day was spent in curriculum meetings.

On the first work day, I made a lot of progress with a handful of items on my Back to School To Do List, such as cleaning out my school email inbox, creating Agenda docs, updating Google Classroom, and refreshing syllabus documents.

Each course’s syllabus needed a few updates – updating units to be taught, new grade breakdown for each quarter, clarification regarding what will and won’t be put into PowerSchool, removal of the Late Penalty and need for a Late Work Form, and updating my email response time boundary.

Thankfully, each syllabus is only “one” page when printed by utilizing the front and back of a piece of paper. I’ve had it this way since the 2019-2020 school year. It has been a meaningful and intentional move that I would like to share with you and encourage you to do the same with the six following steps.

Step #1 – Reduce Margins to 0.5″

By adjusting the left and right margins to 0.5″ you now have one additional inch per line to utilize. It may not seem like much extra space, but it adds up.

Step #2 – Contact Information Into the Header

Throw your contact information up in the header. Now it will appear on top on the front and back of the document.

The contact information that I choose to list is teacher name, email address, school year, and classroom number.

I utilize email over phone calls (yes, I’m a millennial). My classroom’s phone number can always be shared at a later date.

Step #3 – Utilize Tables Instead of Lists

Instead of listing things out and creating a ton of white space, utilize tables to fill in the blank space and use less lines on the document.

Step #4 – Remove Sections That Can Be Separate Docs

No need to overwhelm the reader with information, procedures, beliefs, etc. Extract these “pieces” from the syllabus and have them be their own documents to be read and reviewed at a later date.

Step #5 – Be Concise

I like to think of the syllabus as a talking point document that states the gist of how the class is set up. Unique situations and scenarios will come up, but you don’t need to explain each on the syllabus.

Another trick I utilize under the “Classroom Expectations” section is “Follow [insert school name here] rules at all times.” By using this one sentence, you just saved yourself a lot of typing, words, explanations, etc. that are already provided in the school’s handbook and that students should already be following.

Step #6 – Remove Signature Requirements

Collecting signed agreements of your syllabus is old school. Your syllabus is not a legal binding document. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter if students, parents, or guardians “agree” with what you have to say in the document. Your course’s syllabus is an FYI for you to begin communication for the year. Don’t create more work for yourself by keeping track of who did and did not sign the final page.

Hopefully, you found these six tips helpful as you revamp your syllabus into a “one” pager.

I hope you have a great school year!

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