Engaged & Ready

Welcome to Engaged & Ready, a place where faculty committed to transforming their classrooms can find the resources they need to empower their students to be co-learners engaged and ready to learn, to contribute to their communities, society, and the world. By giving students autonomy in our classrooms, we invite them to be active participants in their education. The active learning methods we espouse are backed by decades of learning sciences showing that active, participatory learning is more effective than traditional lecturing or raise-your-hand methods. Take a look around at this growing archive of templates and resources. If you’d like to join an Engaged & Ready cohort that meets regularly throughout the semester, contact me (opens in new window).

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Transform Your Syllabus: Page 1

The syllabus is the first document we give our students and the best place to begin to build trust and community in a classroom so that deep and meaningful learning can begin. However, the syllabus can come across as a list of fine print terms and conditions. We can start to bring the joyfulness of learning into our class by making one small change at the top of this document: add a welcome letter to students. Here’s a template to help you get started:

You’re welcome to try it out, adapt it to your class, reuse, recycle, and share it with anyone. Keep the letter as brief as possible. The point is to establish a relationship founded on trust. It can be a short note of invitation into something much deeper with some careful wording: a learning community where every learner feels that they belong. Below is a sample letter that I use in my college composition courses:

Another important feature to any syllabus is an Office Hours Statement, a short paragraph (3-5 sentences) that welcomes students who may or may not “need help” in your course to come to your office hours and make good use of that opportunity and time. The statement should explain what the time is for, how to show up, and why it can be useful for students. It also might ask students to commit to something and share your commitment to your students but it doesn’t have to. Below is a template you can use to create your own.

Where can these two things go? Glad you asked!

Your LMS 
Blackboard, Brightspace, Canvas, Moodle, etc.
On the first page or in annotations/comments on a digital copy of the syllabus
First Email
A welcome email (sent directly or via LMS)
Cover letter
Attached to the syllabus

More Teaching Resources

Student Self-Assessments

Writing Prompts for Helping Students to Connect to their Internal Motivators for Academic Honesty in the Age of ChatGPT

3 Ways to Improve Student Group Work