Classes start again for me on Wednesday so I'm preparing my paperwork and introductory lectures. Here's something I wrote last semester when I grew piqued during grading. It's now going to be part of my standard syllabi.
Classroom and paper rules: AKA Mr. Deeley's Manifesto
No first person: it gets in the way of your idea and leads to telling the story of writing, not making an argument
No questions: this is a specific rhetorical move that either directs inquiry through a mass of information (more than you'll be handling in a 10 page or less paper) or expresses a tone of moral outrage that belongs in a church newsletter, not a college paper
No semi-colons: you're bad at them.
All papers in required format: I say 12pt Times New Roman. If it's not, I won't read it. Follow the directions.
Don't use Wikipedia: apart from all the other issues with Wikipedia, you're in college; you need to use better sources than an encyclopedia.
No ALL CAPS or text speak in general: you're writing a paper, not a blog post
Papers are due on workshop days: this is not a work day for you to begin to write the paper, this is for you to focus on the process of revising. If you come to workshop without your paper, you are absent. If you are absent for workshop, I will not accept your paper.
No papers via email.
No coming in late
No cell phones, laptops, or tablets
If you haven't done the reading, don't come. If I find out you didn't read the piece, I'll ask you to leave and you'll be marked absent. If you haven't done the homework, you can't participate in the discussion, so you aren't actually present anyway.
If you miss more than 2 weeks of classes, you automatically fail the course because you've missed too much to catch up on. Real life happens and I will not judge you for making hard choices.
This is a critical reading/writing class which means it's focused on the skills of argument and writing. Do not focus on your grade, focus on improving your arguments and writing. I am a hard grader, I also curve hard. If you do the work this course asks of you, you will get a good grade so focus on learning. The rest will take care of itself.
Do what I tell you to do. I grade the assignments I give; I'm the judge. When I tell you what I'm going to look for, those are things you should make sure are there.
READ GOOD THINGS! Do not limit your reading to course assignments. Learning to write well comes from reading good writing. Get classics from the library, read the work of historical thinkers, ask people you respect for suggestions, and read as much as you can. There's a reason certain writers had an impact. Learn why, look at how they did it, and do that in your own writing. Avoid pop fiction whether it be the latest National Book Award winner or something you bought from a table at the subway. Such writing is to the classics as popcorn is to a true meal—it can fill you up and be delicious, but is mostly air and cannot provide the sustenance and substance of a real meal. While it may sate your hunger, you will ultimately starve on a diet of popcorn. Treat your intellectual appetite the same way; dine on something you can truly chew.