F19 Welcome back! Setting up your course & TCoP invitation


My name is Dr. Rayna Friendly and I am happy to have been invited as a Faculty-in-Residence blogger for eCampus this Fall 2019 term! Although my training and teaching is in the field of Developmental Psychology, I have also worked extensively on providing professional and teaching development opportunities for faculty and graduate students. Thus, my posts will mainly consist of tips and resources that I have found most helpful when developing my own teaching practice.

Today’s post will consist of: (1) a guide, which faculty (especially new faculty) can use to help set up and prepare their courses at the beginning of the term here at SJSU, and (2), an invitation to join the SJSU Teaching Community of Practice (TCoP) mailing list!

  1. My Guide for Preparing Courses for the Beginning of Term:

    The following are some of the  steps I follow when preparing my courses:

    First, I suggest visiting SJSU’s Center for Faculty Development (CFD)’s Seven Steps for Preparing Accessible/Inclusive Teaching to insure you are accommodating students to the best of your abilities. The link follows:
    1. Preparing my syllabus

      • I consult the SJSU Academic Calendar to check for campus closure/holiday dates and use this information when updating my schedule of topics for the term on my syllabus.
      • Then, I spend a lot of time considering and adjusting assessment (assignments, quizzes, tests, exams, etc.) descriptions and due dates…This planning takes me a long time but saves time during the semester since I’ve done a bunch of planning in advance)
      • I then check that the rest of my syllabus is updated (contact & office information, textbook & activity description, information about the Peer Educator I am working with in the new term, etc.)
      • Make sure university polices are updated on your syllabus, by checking (and using!) the wording carefully chosen by the CFD on their Accessible Syllabus Teaching Template: http://www.sjsu.edu/cfd/teaching-learning/accessibility
      • Here is an EXAMPLE of one of my syllabi from Spring 2019 (note: policies and such require updating, so please check wording using the CFD template above before re-using any of this on your own syllabi)
    2. Setting up My Canvas Course Shells

      • I first prefer to combine the 2 sections I teach of the same course into the same course shell (you do NOT need to do this, I just find it makes posting content for both sections easier, and you can still message each section individually if needed).
        • Here is an online guide: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-10885-4214719646
        • I prefer my course shell to say “sections 1 & 2” (rather than just section 1), so I just emailed eCampus to ask them set up one of my course section’s with that name/detail added. Then I followed online instructions, like those above, to cross-list both sections to that course shell.
      • I aim to launch my Canvas courses with at least the following published:
        • A welcome message to my students (some instructors post a welcome video as well!)
        • The syllabus (I prefer to put my syllabus on a Google Document in Google Drive, and then embed the link on Canvas under “syllabus”. This way, when I make edits to the syllabus on Drive, they show up instantly on Canvas for students to view)
        • Information for students on how to set up their iClicker (which I use for my classes), as well as lists of any campus resources I feel could be useful to them (I create a module specifically labelled “Tips & Resources” for these. Many of these resources can be downloaded from Canvas Commons

    3. Then, I set up my courses on iClicker, since I use these in my classes.

    • I personally don’t use these for points – I just use it them participation, but many instructors use these for grades. Contact eCampus for help with setting this up!

    4. Last, I start creating/updating my slides for the term.

    • I aim to get at least 1-2 weeks ahead (more if it is my first term teaching or I am making large-scale changes to the course)


  2. Invitation to join SJSU’s Teaching Community of Practice (TCoP)

  • The Teaching Community of Practice (TCoP) is a group for part- and full-time SJSU faculty (of all levels, across all departments), who are interested in enhancing their respective teaching practices. The TCoP will meet regularly, according to members’ schedules, to exchange strategies, tips and resources that have led to successful (and sometimes, less-than-successful) teaching experiences. Please fill out this form if you are interested in joining this community and you will be added to the groups’ mailing list. For inquires about the TCoP, please contact me at rayna.friendly@sjsu.edu.


  • Why join the TCoP?

    • Attendance is flexible (in-person and online) and sessions are often recorded using Zoom, so you can watch them later if unable to attend!
    • There is a body of research that examines the efficacy of such Professional Teaching Communities (i.e. Communities of Practice) for both faculty and student outcomes (e.g., Vangrieken, Meredith, Packer, & Kyndt, 2017; Vescio, Ross & Adams, 2008), which suggest benefits for pedagogical advancements.


Vescio, V., Ross, D., & Adams, A. (2008). A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and teacher education24(1), 80-91.

Vangrieken, K., Meredith, C., Packer, T., & Kyndt, E. (2017). Teacher communities as a context for professional development: A systematic review. Teaching and teacher education61, 47-59.


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