The administrative details of your class must be tended to several months before a class at Stanford begins. Some of these details are handled by department staff, some by professors or instructors in charge of a course, and some by teaching assistants. Fortunately, the department staff generally keeps you informed of the deadlines, as long as they know your teaching plans. Here is a summary of details to be aware of:
Book Orders and Course Readers
Bookstore forms are available through your department staff. Completed forms are due well in advance of the quarter in which you plan to teach—generally the middle of the previous quarter, but the first week in May for the following autumn. Try to submit course readers early; your students will receive a substantial discount, and it will allow the bookstore plenty of time to obtain permissions. Check that the books and readers have arrived before the first class meeting, so that you can make alternative arrangements or assignments if necessary.
Your Teaching Schedule and ExploreCourses
Plan your teaching schedule well in advance, keeping in mind what other commitments you will have during each quarter. Listings for ExploreCourses have a late spring deadline for classes that will be taught the next academic year. Information about each particular class is due to your department administrator about a quarter and a half before the quarter during which you will be teaching. This is also the time to make decisions regarding days and times to offer your class, as well as the type of classroom you’ll need and grading options you’ll offer students. For more information, check with your department staff, ExploreCourses, or the Registrar’s Office website for faculty.
Room assignments are done through a university-wide system, not by your specific department. However, you can have a great deal of control over the kind of room you get by letting your departmental administrator know well in advance what classroom features you need. Consider whether you will need extra blackboard space, a SmartPanel for multimedia presentations, or room for in-class demonstrations.
Visit your assigned room as soon as possible, both to see if it meets your needs and to get a sense of where you’ll be teaching. Consider whether the layout of the room is compatible with your needs; for example, whether furniture can be arranged to facilitate discussion, or whether there is sufficient laboratory work space so that students do not have to use pieces of equipment as bookshelves or storage during experiments. If you will need a different room, ask your departmental administrator to contact Room Scheduling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 725-1892. After the quarter starts, room changes will be much more difficult.
You can put books, photocopies, audiovisual materials, lecture notes, and old exams on reserve at Green Library and at some of the branch libraries for loan periods varying from two hours to three days. You should do this at least six weeks before the beginning of the quarter, especially if recently published books need to be ordered.
Grades must be entered online by the course professor, using the Axess system (an online registration and general class information resource for students), though the professor can assign his or her grading proxy to other members of the teaching team. Faculty can also use Axess to view class rosters, get information about advisees, and search the Time Schedule. Grades are usually due at 11:59 p.m. on the Tuesday after finals week, except in Spring Quarter, when the grades for graduating seniors are due at noon on the Thursday immediately following the last day of finals. Your department administrator is a good source of help before you get started. Read about grading policy and procedures.
You will also need to plan ahead if you use any audiovisual or computer equipment in your teaching. Let your department administrator know at least a quarter in advance exactly what kind of classroom and features you will require; when the administrator submits other kinds of course information to the Registrar’s Office, he or she will then specify what kind of equipment you need. He or she can also tell you what equipment is in the room you are assigned.
If you teach laboratory courses or need to do demonstrations in class, equipment is even more of an issue. If your course will require the purchase of new equipment, plan well ahead to locate funds. You will also need to check out the existing equipment in advance to make sure everything is in working order. Even if everything seems in order when the quarter begins, you or your TAs should run through the planned experiment or demonstration at least a week in advance to take care of any last-minute problems. While this advice may seem obvious, experience tells us that pre-testing equipment and dry-running “obviously straightforward” labs are among the first things to be dropped as instructors become busy. Consider this detail an important commitment to your students’ learning, rather than a hassle. Prepare adequate documentation on how to use the equipment for students and TAs. Finally, you will also have to anticipate such related concerns as safety procedures, training for the students, and access arrangements. Much of this will depend on the circumstances in your own department.