Teacher FAQ


Why do you do only three monthly sessions a year?
KCDC is entirely volunteer-run, so we do what is manageable with the resources we have. We also think that holding three sessions a year keeps students and teachers interested.

How long has KCDC been around?
Since 2011.

Where is KCDC located?
KCDC does not have a permanent home base. We hold classes and meetings throughout the D.C. area — in libraries, parks, restaurants, Metro cars, living rooms, you name it. Let us know if you have connections to spaces, or if you can volunteer a space to be our headquarters for one or more sessions.

Is there a Knowledge Commons NY, Knowledge Commons SF, etc.?
Knowledge Commons San Diego started in summer 2015. The two schools are independent, although they share the same mission and some of the KCSD founders came from DC. There are other, unaffiliated free schools in other cities. Ask us for more info. We’d be excited to share our thoughts and resources if you want to start something similar elsewhere!


What’s a wrangler?
The wrangler is the KCDC organizer who initially contacts you about your class; helps you work through the proposal; and arranges the time, date, and space. Once you’re scheduled, the wrangler’s job is largely done. Occasionally your wrangler will be your facilitator as well.

What’s a facilitator?
Facilitators are the liaisons to your students and the KCDC organizers. They take attendance, introduce KCDC at the beginning of the class, and send out follow-up emails. They can answer questions for you as the class approaches. During the class, if there’s no documentarian present, they take pictures.

What’s a documentarian?
A documentarian takes photos and collects information for a Class Report post on the KCDC site. Not all classes have documentarians.

Who do I contact if I have a problem?
That depends. Usually, your go-to contact is your facilitator. If your facilitator is unresponsive (give them 24 hours), email your wrangler and cc contact@knowledgecommonsdc.org. If it’s urgent, call or text your wrangler.

Do I have to find my own space?
No, but if you have space ideas, please let us know! KCDC has many space partners, and we do our best to match the content of the class with an appropriate venue. Please let us know your needs (seating, audio/video equipment, whiteboards, optimal geographic location, etc.) to help us find the best fit. We often have classes in public libraries, so if you have a favorite library, mention it.

Should I publicize the class?
Yes! Just please don’t make a Facebook event. We need to keep track of attendance, which means we need people to sign up only on our site, not on our site AND Facebook.

Can I reschedule my class?
This is not desirable. Please only ask if your situation is dire. Give us as much notice as you possibly can so we can alert students and spaces.

What if it rains or snows?
We try to have rain dates or rain locations for outdoor classes. If the weather’s looking bad, get in touch with your facilitator to make a decision. Try to make said decision 24 hours before the class.  

Will people come to my class if the location isn’t right by a Metro station?
Yes! We can organize carpools for out-of-the-way locations.

If I’m assigned a library space and I don’t like it, can I switch libraries?
No. Sorry!

Can I invite friends to my class?
Yes, but please have them register through our site so we have the proper headcount.

Can you guys promote some people off the waitlist for me?
No. Sorry!

Can I find out how many people will be at my class?
There’s really no way of knowing exactly how many students will show up. People cancel and register right up until the time of the class, and some skip. You can ask your facilitator to tell you how many people are registered, but expect that number to change. In general, about 60 to 70 percent of registered students attend.

Will there be a projector/whiteboard/etc.?
If you requested one, then yes.

Can I contact students before or after the class?
Your facilitator will email students on your behalf; we don’t give out student email addresses. If you’d like to email students directly, ask the facilitator to include your email address in reminder emails and those who are interested will contact you.   

I need materials. Can I ask for reimbursement?
We can ask students to pay for a materials fee to cover your costs, provided that fee does not exceed $10 per student. Also, money cannot change hands at a library, so we need to know if you need a materials fee before we find your location.

I need handouts. Can I ask for reimbursement?
KCDC will reimburse you up to a total of $10 for handouts. Please give us your receipts.

Why is my class description/title/bio being edited?
We edit descriptions for clarity, length, and liveliness. Expect to be asked questions by a KCDC editor. Any changes will be run by you before publishing.


What is KCDC’s target audience?
If you haven’t guessed by now, the answer is: Everyone! You can teach a class for a narrower audience, though. For example, Medical Spanish was aimed at medical professionals, though anyone was welcome to join.

What age groups are welcome?
Our classes are open to and taught by people of all ages. Exceptions are made for classes involving alcohol or containing adult material. (Our Intro to BDSM class was limited to ages 18 and up.) If you feel your class would be inappropriate for children, please tell us early on.

Can I restrict who comes to my class?
Only when there’s content that’s not appropriate for children.

What if my class is aimed at people who already have experience doing x, y, or z?
You are welcome to teach an intermediate or advanced class. Put expectations and prerequisites in your class description. Beginners could show up, although they probably won’t want to.

Can I get an ASL interpreter to interpret my class?
If a student requests an ASL interpreter when registering, we will do our very best to accommodate. Any class taught at the library comes with the option of an ASL interpreter. For non-library classes, we may be able to line one up.


How long should my class be?
Classes usually last between 90 minutes and two hours. Ask your wrangler if you feel two hours isn’t enough. Be sure to reserve some time at the end of your class for discussion and Q&A.

Can I teach a multi-part class?
Yes. We’ll need to strategize a bit to make it work. You will likely see an attendance drop between the first meeting and subsequent meetings.

Can I teach the same class more than once in the same session?
It depends on our schedule/resources. Twice would be the max.

What about teaching the same class in an upcoming session?
Absolutely! Teaching a class multiple times is the best way to perfect it. Consider, however, student interest. If you only had two people show up, you might want to think about making some changes in time slot, description, and location.

Is there a type of class I can’t teach?
We won’t let you teach a class on an offensive subject. A proposal for a class denying the Holocaust would be declined, for example. But if you wanted to trace the history of Holocaust denial in the Arab world and how it has influenced politics in the Middle East, that would be OK.  

As we can’t predict every scenario in which we would deem a topic objectionable, we defer to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous opinion from Jacobellis v. Ohio: “I know it when I see it.”

Can I teach a class about my position on a political issue?
You may advocate for issues, but you may not promote particular political candidates.

Can I ask students to take action on an issue?
No, don’t ask students to take action on an issue during class or in your followups afterwards. That means no petitions, and no calling congresspeople in class.
You may present information; students will decide whether they find that information compelling.

Can I sell goods or services?
You may not sell anything during class or in the space. You can tell your students that your relevant book/CD/service/whatever exists. If they want to buy it later, they will.

What if I want to present content that might upset students?
If you plan to do or show things that might offend delicate sensibilities (like play a TV clip with lots of profanity), please let us know so we can warn students ahead of time.

Can I promote my other events in my class?
Absolutely, but mention them at the end of class. Don’t make the class an intro to your future event(s). The lesson should stand on its own merits.

Can I have alcohol in the class?
Unless your class directly relates to alcohol, usually no. Drinking can foster a happy-hour environment, which is not what we’re going for. If you feel we should make an exception, ask your wrangler, but keep in mind that (unless specified) our classes are open to everyone. We don’t want to make non-drinkers uncomfortable.

Should I use slides?
Please see the document Making Slides.

Can I go somewhere with the students afterwards to continue talking about the class?
Always! Just make sure you don’t make students feel like they have to go.

How do I get feedback on my class?
KCDC provides a course evaluation form, which we send to students after every class. Ask your wrangler for access to your evaluations.