Teaching a Class

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Am I allowed to teach a class?”

A reply from the Minister:

Do you have something to teach? Then Yes!

You are allowed to teach! Welcome even!

The SCA is built on sharing information. Our organization’s success depends on people’s willingness to learn and then share their knowledge as teachers. The more we encourage people to teach, the stronger we become as a whole.

You’re not required to be in the SCA for a certain amount of time. You’re not required to have certain awards. You’re not required to hold modern degrees or experience. You’re not required to be a certain age. You’re not required to have prior teaching experience.

You just need to have a willingness to share.

Many of us start teaching with very little experience. Both as artists and as teachers. We end up learning our arts in more detail and how to be more effective teachers through volunteering repeatedly and getting better over time.

We learn. Our early classes are not always good. We may have not figured out the best way to explain a subject. We may have not learned the more common pitfalls of our art. We may not have practiced our communication skills.

That’s okay. As long as you are trying your best your audiences will typically understand. It is worth letting your students know that you are just learning and that you are open to feedback. You can learn from them as they are learning from you.

It is important to respect your students. They value their time in the SCA and they are looking forward to learning from you. That means you should take care with your class preparation and research. Your audience will appreciate you all the more for it.

Now, where you teach? That’s another matter.

You could offer your class at your home. Maybe your local branch offers a class series and you can volunteer to be part of that. You might be able to offer a class at a local event. You can volunteer at a colleguim or university too. Pennsic and the other wars are also great options.

Keep in mind, that while you are very welcome to teach, your class may not be appropriate for every venue.

Please do not get discouraged if you are politely turned down. And please do not take it personally. There are likely many other reasons that your class may not fit well into an event.

Some activities are theme specific. A Cooks Collegium will prioritize cooking classes over an embroidery class.

Some events have limited space. A one-hour session will be prioritized over an all-day class in order to offer more options.

Some events are audience specific. A Newcomers Event will prioritize “How to” classes over an advanced research class.

Some events do not have the space or equipment needed to support a class. A fighting focused event may not have a room to hold classes.

Activity organizers are not trying to deny you an opportunity. They are trying to plan for an overall event. Every organizer will be different. They will all work a little bit differently and they may ask different things of you as a teacher.

In the end their goal is simply to make the best activity possible that creates a good learning atmosphere for students and a worthwhile destination for teachers. They want to make a good time happen as much as you do.

Be patient and look for good opportunities for your class offerings. Sometimes you need to create those opportunities for yourself. And that’s okay. Much of the time you’ll find you can fit right into a schedule with everyone else.

Remember. Also be aware if there are any special requirements for the class you are teaching. Are you giving a youth class? Are you working with food? Are you working with hazardous materials? Are you teaching certain martial arts? Some of these will have certain rules and restrictions based off of your group and the event location. Simply ask!

A final note. Please do not be discouraged with low, or maybe even no, attendance. Try not to take that personally, too. It all depends on the event and the day and the people that are there. Sometimes you work really hard to get a class ready and then no one shows up.

It could be that people are obligated to serve other parts of the event and are sad to miss your class. It might be that they’ve already learned what you are teaching. Or, simply, it could be that they are not interested in your subject.

Try to be okay with all of those reasons. Some of my best teaching moments were to only one or two people.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.