Thinking ahead for next year: Syllabus

I’m killing time during a painfully long layover (Our Japan trip was awesome, 7 hours at LAX …not so much!) and I’m updating and sharing my syllabus. Here’s the syllabus I pass out on Day 1 (although we discuss it little by little over the first  2 weeks of school… no reason to kill them slowly by information overload on the first day of school!) Feel free to make a copy and adjust it to work for you! My syllabus is basically the same for all levels, with minor level specific adjustments. Since there’s a lot of “behind the scenes” stuff in the syllabus, let’s dissect it below:

Syllabus page 1

I’ve always maintained a class website (separate from from blogcito) but this year we’ll have one-to-one chromebooks for all…so I’m not sure if I’ll still keep my class website or just do everything through Google classroom. Any thoughts or suggestions?!

Are you using to communicate with parents and students? If you’re not, do yourself a favor and sign up! It’s FREE and AWESOME!

You can read about our partnership with the orphanage in Baja CA here. 

Syllabus page 2.png


  1. Be Brave and Kind. I stole this from my favorite (non-teaching) blogger Glennon Doyle Melton and it’s what I want my little darlings to be in real life.
  2. Join the party, because that sounds so much more fun than “Participate”. I’ll often tell a kid who’s zoning out, “Hey, Mikey, join the party!” which is a lot nicer than “Mikey, pay attention!”
  3. Signal when Sra. Chase is unclear. It used to be, Signal when you don’t understand…but that makes it seem that it’s them that’s doing something wrong when really it’s my fault because it’s my responsibility to be comprehensible. Perspective shift!

The Student and Teacher responsibilities was inspired by Martina Bex’s Syllabus . I loved the idea and we’ll go back to the chart 2-3 times during the year, reflecting on how well we’re fulfilling our class responsibilities. Pro Tip: A few years ago Nevada adopted the Nevada Educators Performance Framework where basically we have to maintain a file of evidence to prove we’re highly effective in about a thousand sub categories…As that was rolling out, I included the Teacher/Student Responsibilities into my syllabus and took the exact same wording from as many NEPF indicators that fit, just so I could include it as evidence. Pretty clever, right?!  If you have no idea what I’m talking about regarding “Performance Indicators” and “evidence file” and “highly effective”, you can thank Jesus that NEPF (or whatever it’s called in your neck of the woods!) hasn’t taken you hostage.

Syllabus page 3

Taking a cue from soccer (and elementary teachers everywhere!) I use yellow cards and red cards for classroom management. It’s an easy way to redirect behavior without saying a word and works, like, 99% of the time. Here they are if you’d like to print on yellow and red papers.  Make a copy to edit away! I keep a stack on my teaching podium…I rarely get past “the look” stage, but it’s nice to know they’re there.   Here’s my extra credit sello sheet and explanation as well. 

Syllabus page 4

The next page is talks about our “new” proficiency grading philosophy, explained here.

And then Procedures, Procedures, Procedures…because, thanks to Harry Wong, we all know how important those are the first weeks of school. (If you don’t have The First Days Of Schoolon your bookshelf, stop everything and get yourself a used copy, STAT! It will make excellent Summer Beach Reading!)

syllabus page 5

If you’re on the fence about procedures…think about the things that don’t go smoothly in your classes and teach them how to do those things. I’m convinced that 95% of kids will do what you want them to do…as long as they understand how to do it. I remember years ago getting annoyed that it took so flippin’ long to pass out mini-whiteboards- they were chit chatting and lollygagging and then it dawned on me….Duh! This is my fault! You never taught them what you want them to do and how to do it! Problem solved…Teach (and practice and practice and practice) your procedures and you’ll have very few classroom management issues.

The partner folder procedure is explained in more depth here. 

And then finally the last page: signatures and most importantly,  parent contact information:syllabus page 6

There you have it… this is a document I’ve been refining every year since I started teaching. I hope there’s something in there that might make it into your syllabus…or if you’re just getting started on this wild teaching ride, a place to begin as you’re thinking about your classes next year.

Just about 2 more hours of this stinking layover… Ug! If you made it this far (impressive!) hop on over to my Student Interest Survey that my little darlings fill out on the first day of school.

Hope you’re enjoying summer break and Happy 4th of July!


  1. Thank you! Love everything you are doing! Talking with my Department about switching to profitent based grading also.


  2. […] I wrote this letter for  parents, explaining what we do in our classes and why we do it in parent friendly language. Feel free to make a copy and edit it to make it work for you!  I generally pass it out at Back to School night, so they have something to read while they’re waiting for the fun to begin. But you might want to send it home at the beginning of the year with your syllabus. Speaking of your syllabus…if you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s mine! […]


  3. I still don’t understand where the different grades are going. Let’s say participation grade – what category is it in? Would that be in the practice section? Or speaking?


  4. Sra. Chase! I am a huge fan and find myself fortunate to have found you this summer in the blog sphere and TPT. I too am making the slow switch from the textbook to CI (My comrades are textbook/grammar traditionalists) and our school is moving towards standards based grading. My latest dilemma is of course how to handle a total points grade book (we are not allowed to use weights) and integrate it with a proficiency level approach. There may not be an easy solution …. II have convinced my colleagues to embrace IPA summatives for each “unit” which is progress. I’m just a bit confused how that will translate to “points.” I know you are very busy but I thought I’d reach out to see if had encountered this issue when your school made the switch.


    • Hi Melinda,

      Gosh, You’re not the first person to ask me that, but I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer. I’m not good at math at all, but it seems to me that if you set your class total points out of 1000, you could get the same percentages by adjusting your points, so instead of 25% for the listening percentage you could plan on about 250 points, and just adjust it as the semester goes on. Sorry I don’t have a better answer for you


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