Want to learn more about how to teach a BU class or offer a meet-up or discussion?
Q: How do I sign up to teach or offer a session?
A: Watch this site or sign up for e-news. We start accepting course proposals around January 1 each year. We have a short form for you to fill out with your course idea and some basic information. Our organizing team reviews proposals and responds to everyone by mid-late January. You can find more information and proposal forms under Teach a Class.
Q: Who can teach a course?
A: Anyone with a skill to share, the time to teach, and a connection to Bethel. You do not need to be a Bethel resident – if you work in Bethel, own a business in Bethel, have a second cousin from Bethel, or just love Bethel University, we invite you to teach. You do not need a college degree or years of experience. Teens and kids are welcome to teach courses as well as adults, and we can help find mentors to help kids develop strong courses.
Q: What types of courses or activities can I propose?
A: We now offer three types of sessions: courses, meet-ups, and discussions. Browse our sessions from past years to get ideas and see what we’ve offered before.
- Courses can range from hands-on demonstrations to lectures to interactive sessions. “Professors” should have enough experience with the topic to be able to teach it.
- Meet-ups are a chance to meet up with people who share an interest. You don’t need to have any expertise or plan a class, but you should plan how to run the session well.
- Discussions are informal (but facilitated) small group conversations on any topic you like. You don’t need to be an expert on the topic, but it is helpful to have experience facilitating group discussions.
Q: Where are courses held?
A: At Bethel University, the community is the campus. Classes can either be held in person (anywhere in the town of Bethel, Vermont) or can be held on Zoom. If you want to teach in person in Bethel, you can arrange or use your own space (a business, park, or home). Most people request a space, and we’re lucky to have many community partners offering their spaces for the month. Community spaces that we often use include:
- Bethel Town Hall and Town Office (small and large meeting spaces, stage, commercial kitchen)
- Bethel Public Library (small meeting space, computers and iPads available)
- White River Valley School (classrooms, gym, cafeteria, art room, libraries, teaching kitchen with multiple stoves)
- White Church (large meeting hall, commercial kitchen)
- Parish House (meeting room, small kitchen)
- Arnold Block (small and large meeting rooms, exercise space)
- Day Breaks Glass Studio (craft studio with work tables)
- Bethel Recreation Center (covered pavilions, skating rink, trails, playground)
- Peavine Park (small covered pavilion, river)
Q: What do I need to teach virtually (on Zoom)?
A: There are a few critical ingredients to successfully teach over Zoom. We’ll help you out with the skills and setup, but check out this list to be sure it will work for you. If you don’t have a setup or Internet connection at home that will work, we are hoping to offer a safe location in town where professors can connect to teach.
- A computer, laptop or mobile device with video and sound capabilities
- A strong Internet connection (broadband or cable is best)
- A microphone and camera
- A topic that will work in a virtual setting. There’s a lot you can do virtually, from demonstrations to discussions to slideshows and video. Most topics can be adapted into a good virtual class, but it may take some work and rethinking.
Q: What topics are most popular?
A: There’s quite a range. Certain topics tend to be very popular… craft courses, exercise or sports, cooking and other creative topics always fill up fast. You may get fewer students for a specialized topic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth offering. Many organizations are also using BU now as a way to educate community members, recruit volunteers or advance their missions. In 2021, people have particularly expressed interest in lectures or talks, cooking and food classes, home improvement and gardening, activities and crafts.
Q: When can I schedule a course? How long should it be?
A: All courses will be held within the month of March, and classes will be limited to one session each. (We encourage you to self-organize more sessions on your own, if you like.) We will be limiting course times to weekday evenings and weekends, which are the most popular times. Attention spans are shorter online, so we suggest making Zoom courses 60-90 minutes long depending on your topic and structure. We can help you determine the best length. In-person classes and sessions can go longer, especially if they are hands-on and engaging.
Q: What can I teach? Can I teach more than one course?
A: Professors can teach whatever they know and are passionate about. If you’re a small business, think about teaching a course that showcases your business offerings – but make sure to offer lots of content and not just a long infomercial. If you have a hobby or a profession and want to share your expertise, teach a course on those skills. Even if you just have average skills in using your computer or mobile phone, or planting a garden, chances are someone would like to learn about it. We also now offer a “meet-up” option – you can host an informal gathering on a topic even if you don’t feel you can teach a class on it.
If you need ideas, check out our past course listings to see what’s been offered. We will be limiting the number of courses this year, so please propose no more than two.
Q: How much does this gig pay?
A: If you’re in this for the money, look elsewhere. BU does not pay professors or organizers, and we do not charge students a penny to learn. If you offer to teach a course, you’ll be volunteering your time. If you have a business, this is a great way to introduce more people to your services or get people to your shop, or even to try out an online course offering. We do have limited funding available to cover essential materials for courses (like books, paint or brushes, or printing). You can request funding when you propose a session.
Q: Do you accept all course proposals? How do you decide? When will we hear from you?
A: We accept as many proposals as we can, but we do need to limit the total number of classes due to space, time and volunteer capacity. We may need to turn down some proposals, but we never know until we see how many come in. Our organizing team reviews proposals in the week after the deadline and responds right away.
When reviewing proposals and making decisions, we consider a few things:
- Is it safe? Is it inclusive? It’s important that BU classes are safe, respectful and inclusive experiences for professors, students, and volunteers — physically and emotionally. We know there’s some amount of risk involved in many activities (such as sports, crafts, or cooking). That’s ok, but want to hear that professors have a plan for managing that risk, keeping people safe, and preventing damage to facilities. We do not allow classes that discriminate in any way on the basis of race, religion, gender, country of origin, disability, language, or sexuality.
- Is it clear? Is it practical? We’re all about wild and crazy ideas and we welcome niche topics. But we do make sure proposals are clear and we know what the session will do or cover. We are also happy to consider unusual formats or concepts for meet-ups or classes, but need to make sure the idea will work with the BU format and our resources.
- Is it legal? Is it appropriate? We’re not looking to censor anyone, and it’s ok for sessions to address adult themes or sensitive topics. But this is a family- and community-oriented program, so please keep it legal and keep our diverse audience in mind.
- Is it local? Is it needed? If we have to make hard choices due to space and numbers, we consider a few other factors. While we welcome professors from anywhere in the world, we will prioritize classes led by local professors or that spotlight Bethel experiences and assets over those from afar. We consider the balance of classes each year; if we have four classes proposed on the same topic, we may turn down one or two or ask professors to consider teaming up. And we consider local needs and requests, prioritizing classes on topics that will benefit the community or address a need we’ve heard.
Q: I’ve never taught a class before. Can you help?
A: Yes! We have a number of ways to help. If you want to teach, please submit an idea and we’ll help you as much as we can.
- We often offer teacher training workshops to assist with both developing a good course plan.
- Check out our Library, where you can find recordings of past trainings on Zoom skills and teaching online. You can also find recordings of some past classes to see how they were structured.
- You can read our Tips for Teachers and download a short professor’s manual.
- Our planning team has several people with significant experience in teaching, facilitation, curriculum development, and Zoom/virtual platforms. We’re happy to answer questions or offer guidance in putting together great courses. Contact us if you’d like to request help.