Teaching in the SCA Part 5: Class Description

Ok- by now you should have the name of your class and the scope of what you want to teach, the next super simple part is coming up with your class description.

Your class description is going to do 2 things

  1. Tell people what your class is about so they want to come to it
  2. Help you stay focused on your class’s scope when you are doing your class notes

You should have 2 class descriptions, one that is very small that can be tacked onto your class titles for when class descriptions are not published, and a more thorough class description.

Here are a few examples:

 

Class name Short Description Long Description
Funny Little Cordial Properties of humors in brewing Properties of humors in brewing. Covers the classification of medieval beverages and how to create a cordial based on a desired humor. Over 21 only.
History of Drinking Common Medieval Drinks History of drinks, how they affected society and culture. Includes samples and recipes of common drinks found in the Middle Age and SCA. Over 21 only.
Persona-Based Arts and Science How to easily incorporate your persona and research into your daily SCA activities. Don’t just let your persona stop with your name. Learn how you can easily incorporate aspects of your persona into your A&S projects, garb, and activities at events. Includes beginner persona information and more intermediate resources for the next step.
Putting the Right Foot Forward The first step to learning about buying or making footwear for the SCA Want SCA appropriate footwear, but don’t know where to start? Come learn the basic styles for different cultures throughout the SCA time frame so you can easily identify what footwear is right for you. Class notes will also include links and references for tutorials on how you make your own SCA footwear.

Between your name and the short description, a student should know enough about your class to be able to decide if they want to take it.

At Pennsic ( and hopefully a majority of events), class information is available online before the event so people can see what classes they want to take. This way they can plan their day accordingly. This is where you want the longer class description.

In the main class description ALWAYS include if there is a fee, size limit, age restriction, and what the student can expect to accomplish.

As I mentioned above, now not only does the student know what will be covered in the class, but so will you as the teacher.

For the persona class I know I need to include:

  • how to incorporate Personas into your A&S projects,
  • How to incorporate into your garb
  • How to incorporate into your activities at events.
  • Some intermediate resources for the next step.

That right there is the basis of my outline for my class ( meaning the next step is half way done)

Teaching in the SCA Part 4: Name Game

What you name your class matters. It matter ALOT. A good name can increase intendance and a name that doesn’t describe the class can disappoint students.

Which class would you take:

  • Camp Fire Maintenance
  • Fire Starting for the Responsible Pyromaniac

How about

  •  Basket making
  • Underwater Basket Weaving

I could call my class that covers humors in brewing- Food Humors for Brewing, but I choose to call it Funny Little Cordial ( play on words of humors) to grab the attention of the would be student.

For my shoe class, I could call it Shoe Identification for the SCA… Instead I am calling it Putting The Right Foot Forward. The first would probably still get you interested BUT the second one will make you want to read the description to find out more.

The truth is- at Pennsic there are 17 classrooms, with classes running from 9am-5pm ( give or take before or after) add in the classes held in private camps and JUST for war week you are looking at over 1000 classes. You want to do something to make your class stand out from those other 999 classes in the site booklet. The first thing the would be student is going to see is the description, so try to make it interesting.

WHEN making it interesting do have the class accurately describe your class. Luckily a majority of site booklets have a small ( very very small) class description you could put out ( we will cover descriptions later). For my Funny Little Cordial class, the add on part reads Funny Little Cordial: Properties of humors in brewing. This is also the title I use when I know there is not a place for class descriptions.

I personally write the class title AND the class description before I write my handouts or lectures as it gives me a guide on what I want to include. Of course most of that should be easy as you already have your scope figured out from part 3 ( see how each one builds a little on the last)

 

Deciding What to Teach Part 2: Does the event type really matter?

Before you decide the class you want to teach, take a second and think about WHERE you are going to teach it. You can teach anything anywhere, but picking a class that will go with the venue will increase class attendance and the enjoyment of the students and the teacher.

An easy example would be that you wouldn’t teach an alcoholic brewing class at an event aimed at youth.

In the same vein, you wouldn’t want to teach a very specific oriented class like fire building techniques of the Mongolian empire during 1256 at a regional event. Though entertaining, there might only be 1 Mongolian at the event, so your attendance might be small. However, if you teach the same class at a RUM or a War you could almost count on doubling the number of Mongolians present and coincidentally your attendance rate.

For instance, once I taught a Norse Seam Treatment at a Norse event in order to keep with the flavor if the event.  More recently, this weekend I taught a Fighter Nutrition class at a….Fighting Symposium. I only teach my history of brewing class at larger wars like Pennsic and Gulf, because the class involves opening larger varieties of home brew, and becomes a waste of alcohol if I don’t have at least 10 students ( or else they get really tipsy).

Basically, beginner classes and wide scope classes do really good at local & regional events, as well as at events where there is a lot going on ( like Crown Tourney). These are perfect for newcomers who might not already be overscheduled for the event.  More advanced classes or smaller scope classes do better at themed events, university events and wars ( as does beginner classes).

Taking your previous list of things you could teach, decide WHERE you want to teach to narrow down your class. Once you know that, you want to narrow it down from the basic list of broad range subjects of what you can teach to a single subject you are going to teach.