A Syllabus Syllabary

As you hone your course materials for the spring, Maria Shine Stewart offers 25 terms for new and returning faculty members to know.

December 29, 2009

1. Syllaball: A lavish party that you will feel like throwing when you are finished.

2. Syllabug: That little typo that crept in when you weren’t looking.

3. Syllabuts: Carefully worded exceptions to your standard policies.

4. Syllaberry: The tasty morsel of fresh writing you might add.

Not to be confused with:

5. Syllabury: What students will do with it the first week.

6. Syllabuster: What could happen in your class if you don’t have your policies clearly stated.

7. Sillybuster: Your secret opinion of the colleague who puts humor in it.

8. Syllabucks: What you will spend many of if you make your copies at home.

9. Syllabusy: Why you can’t go out the week before classes begin.

10. Psi-labus: The phenomenon of a student whose uncanny questions are answered by the next section of your syllabus.

11. Silobus: What your home office will look like if you keep printing out revisions.

12. Syllabuzz: What will happen if you drink too much coffee while preparing it.

13. Syllabit: The kernel of last year’s that you can use again.

14. Syllabyte: The electronic version.

15. Syllabore: What you will sound like the first day if you read it out loud by yourself -- even if it is a masterpiece of legal writing.

16. Syllabanter: The complaining you prefer that students do when you’re out of earshot..

17. Syllabunt: Policies that defer to others in your department, college, etc.

18. Syllabruxism: Teeth gnashing that accompanies point calculations.

19. Syllabully: That certain student who will read it mainly for the purpose of challenging you.

20. Syllabowl: A contest for whose can be the longest and/or use the smallest typeface while remaining legible. Also: A container in which to keep snacks as you write.

21. Syllabuy: Including the latest editions, materials, etc., for students to purchase, even if your desk copy hasn’t arrived yet.

22. Sylla-bi: That pleasant feeling you get when you teach more than one section of the same course and thus have less to type.

23. Syllabill: What you feel like sending your department for your preparation time.

24. Syllafuss: The panic that sweeps through the classroom when students read about oral presentations, research papers, or whatever they don’t like to do. Also: The process of generating lists of bad puns on the theme of syllabus preparation.

25. Syllabrate: What you must do when you are finished.


Maria Shine Stewart teaches and writes in South Euclid, Ohio.


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