By Lady Violet Ruthvene in the SCA
This is an accompaniment to a lecture class I taught at the West Kingdom Arts and Sciences Tourney in June 2011. The goal is to help people in the Society for Creative Anachronism who want to start teaching classes in the SCA. This is the handout I gave, which was in the form of my own outline for the class.
Teaching a good class requires knowledge of your subject and preparation of your class material. You already know the subject (right?) — so now you have to prepare how to teach it. The more you prepare, the better the class will be!
Decide on your specific topic
- Not too broad that you won’t get to everything in an hour, but not too narrow that students won’t be interested in the first place.
- Choose a reasonable amount of info to convey and that can be learned in the class time.
- For a hands-on workshop, you need to time how long it takes someone unfamiliar with the project to create the item from start to (mostly) finish. Note what skills are required of the students, if it’s beginner or advanced level.
- Consider co-teaching for your first time, but make sure both teachers know exactly who is doing what.
Organize your information into an outline
- Plan what you want to happen in the class. Do you want to present info? Start discussions? Demonstrate how something is made? Help others make something? A mix of several of these? Decide which method(s) works for your topic, and plan a sequence of events to organize your info into.
- Write out notes for a lecture class. Cite your sources.
- For indoor classrooms, consider if a slideshow/PowerPoint presentation would be relevant for the topic. Pictures can make a lecture class come alive.
- Write instructions as a handout for a hands-on workshop. Test how the instructions work. Include patterns, diagrams, materials list, and historical documentation, as needed.
Practice a few times before your first class
- Say everything you want to say out loud. Go through the slideshow, if you have one.
- Make kits for a hand-on workshop, follow your own instructions and materials list.
- Think of all the questions students might have, including “dumb / obvious / weird” questions. How will you respond?
- Make it fun for you and the class!
Be prepared on class day
- Pack everything you need, and double-check before you leave the house.
- Arrive a little early to set up.
- Bring water (your throat will get dry as you talk).
- Introduce yourself. If it’s a small group, you might ask students to introduce themselves.
- Take charge of the class — welcome questions and discussion, but make sure they happen when you want them to. Stick to your plan.
- Keep an eye on the clock. Start wrapping up 5 minutes before the scheduled end of the class, as a courtesy to the next instructor.
Go forth and happy teaching!