Classes start next Tuesday. In between my twelve different faculty, departmental, and committee meetings this week, I am finalizing my fall composition syllabus. This is my third semester to teach a themed syllabus, and I’m doing what I always do when it comes to course design: completely reinventing the wheel. I have a new theme this semester, so there are tons of new readings to sort through, activities to plan, and paper assignments to design. It’s exhausting, but I have to admit to loving it. Course planning is one of my favorite things.

As I make my final decisions, I keep asking myself several questions. These are all in addition to my concerns about meeting departmental guidelines and goals for the course.

1) Does my theme help students develop a specific knowledge base and vocabulary with which they can explore new ideas and concepts?

2) Do I have enough one-on-one time built into my syllabus so that I can get to know my students through conferences and small group work?

3) How diverse is my reading list? Are there authors on my syllabus from a variety of backgrounds and demographics?

4) Does my course design flow logically through an educational strategy that is tested and supported by research?

5) Will my students both enjoy and benefit from this course?