Think you might want to teach a class? We’re taking class proposals for our May 2014 session. Get in touch, or submit a course proposal. Deadline: March 15. (Just stay away from the Senate.)
Anyone can teach anything anywhere — that’s our thing. (Within reason. Please don’t propose “Self-Cannibalism: Did You Really Need Two Arms?” or something.) You don’t need to be a formal expert in your topic of choice. Just really into it.
How to Propose a Class
We love all classes, but in particular we love:
- Classes so wacky that no formal institution would ever offer them, except maybe Oberlin. No matter how weird the topic, if you’re passionate about it, your ardor will be contagious. Start a pandemic of enthusiasm today!
- Classes that teach skills one could not normally learn for free, such as computer programming or journalism. Got a pricey specialized education? Share it with others, and save them some money.
- Classes in which students can make something they can take home, like a bookmark or a robot (maybe not a robot).
- Classes that take advantage of D.C.’s history, landmarks, public works, geography, etc. In other words, a class that could only be taught here.
One more step: Check out what classes we’ve offered in the past. If you want to teach a class on leeches and we already had one, that’s fine — put a different spin on yours. If you’re looking for ideas, we’ve had requests for specific classes.
On average, our classes run between 90 minutes and two hours. That’s not enough time for a complete history of unicycling or to weave a replica Bayeux tapestry. Think short story, not novel, and choose a specific task or topic to highlight. “How the Dewey Decimal System Can Reorder Your Thinking” is going to be easier to teach than “Book Classification Systems: Thirty Centuries of Meaning.”
Also: Multi-week classes, in which each successive class requires knowledge from previous classes, are historically not well-attended.
Time to write! Here’s where you do it.
Wait! Show me some examples first!
Description: “Short” is the watchword here. Try to keep the description of your class under 200 words. If that’s not enough, write till your heart’s content and we’ll help you compress.
Crowd: Who would get the most out of your class? Everyone? Everyone under 8? Senior citizens? Otters? Let us know.
Resources/Support: What might you need for your class? A projector, screen and speakers? Number 2 pencils? Tables and chairs? Extra volunteers? We can acquire such things for you.
Location: We can help you find a spot to teach, but give it some thought on your own, too. What sort of location would complement your lesson? What would take advantage of D.C.’s diversity of spaces? A Metro car? A museum? A ruined factory? (If it’s safe and not trespassing, that is.)
You: Keep your bio blurbage under 100 words. You can be as silly or as serious as you desire.
How to Plan Your Class
After you propose a class, a KCDC organizer (we call them “wranglers”) will contact you and help you find a space, hone your proposal, plan your lesson, etc.
Before the Class
Give yourself time limits. Rehearsing is a good way to banish nerves. KCDC organizers are happy to help you plan and practice! Just ask your wrangler.
Do you want a co-teacher? Have one! If you want a co-teacher and don’t have anyone in mind, KCDC organizers can help you find someone. Ask your wrangler.
Gather materials. If you are spending money on supplies for the class to make something, you can ask for a materials fee of $10 or less per student.
Test your equipment. Try out exercises with a friend.
During the Class
First off, have lots of fun! If your topic is somber, be unconventional in a tasteful manner.
Have your students tell the class their names and perhaps some other bit of information, such as profession, or most embarrassing secret.
Get them interacting reasonably early in the class. This will loosen them up and banish blank stares. Have a discussion, take questions, do an activity together. If applicable, get them moving around.
Consider combining types of class. For example, start with a lecture-style history of Zapf Dingbats, then split into groups to design a new dingbat, then discuss.
After the Class
Students love follow-up! Send an email containing whatever assets you promised — digital copies of the handouts, a fact you said you’d look up, recommended reading, etc.