3 tips for creating a class on your lived experience
Are you planning a class based on your passion, identity, or real-life experience? Learn some tips for how to get a class on your lived experience approved on Outschool.

One of the most exciting aspects of being an educator on Outschool is that you don’t necessarily need a teaching credential or specialized degree to teach. In most cases, if you have the experience and the passion, you can teach! Lived experience is defined as your own personal identity, an event or occurrence in your life, or a personal interest or passion that you’ve dedicated substantial time to.

Are you obsessed with dinosaurs? Or maybe you know the ins and outs of baking?  So many educators have created classes devoted to their lived experiences and passions. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re planning a class around your lived experience:

1. Share concrete examples of your lived experiences

Is your topic core to your identity? Do you have a good length or breadth of experience in your topic? Make sure to share any evidence you have to support your experience. The example below mentions that the educator has “visited 8 countries in Europe, each more than once” and their “love to travel” which indicates their overall experience and love for travel.

Plan your European vacation with me! I am a seasoned traveler and have visited 8 countries in Europe, each more than once. I love to travel and am here to help you plan your perfect trip. In this ongoing class, each week we will virtually visit a different country and talk about travel tips and tricks to visit the most popular destinations in that country. I’ll share my perspective on the best way to plan your trip depending on your interests. After taking a virtual tour of famous sites and going over some of my favorite travel planning tips, learners will be able to create their own personalized vacation itineraries. Here’s the weekly breakdown, see you in class!

  • Week of May 17: Italy
  • Week of May 24: Romania
  • Week of May 31: France
  • Week of June 7: Denmark

2. Include multiple perspectives, especially on topics related to peoples, cultures, and histories

While we do take a stronger stance on sharing multiple perspectives when you’re teaching a topic related to peoples, cultures, and histories, it’s still important to foster an inclusive learning environment, no matter what topic you’re teaching. The example below indicates the educator’s personal identity as their lived experience. It’s a good example for fostering an environment where unique perspectives are important and respected.  

This class is a social club for learners from military families. I grew up in a military family and moved all over the place when I was young, and I’m excited to bring this group together to talk about our shared experiences. We’ll talk about common challenges and hardships for military families, and we will share our favorite tips for staying connected to friends and family around the world. This class is learner-led (learners will bring the topics they wish to discuss each week, which must be related to being a military family member) and is a place for learners to feel connected to other military families. We will also have a guest speaker each week who will share their own perspective as a military family member. The #1 rule of my class is to be respectful — while we are all connected, we will all have slightly different experiences and perspectives to share.

3. Know when lived experience will not be sufficient expertise

If you want to teach a class that focuses on an entire culture or a diverse group of people, in most cases, individual lived experience is not sufficient on its own to meet our teacher expertise guidelines. For these classes, bringing in multiple perspectives, guest speakers, and additional sources and texts will help you create a well-rounded experience for your learners that represents the diversity and nuances inherent in an entire culture or group. The below example is one that would not be approved as it is currently written:

In this multi-day class, come learn all about the people and culture of Hawaii. We will take a deep dive into Hawaiian culture and customs, and learn about the history and unique characteristics of the Hawaiian people. I visited Hawaii for the first time as part of a one-week cruise tour last summer and am ready to share all that I have learned with you!

In the above example, a one-week vacation would not be sufficient lived experience to support teaching the intricacies of a culture, people, and history.

A better example might look like this:

In this multi-day class, I am excited to share my experiences and expertise on the beautiful islands of Hawaii. As a native Hawaiian, and with my masters degree in Hawaiian history, I will use my expertise to take you through a historical and cultural exploration of the diversity of peoples and cultures in Hawaii. I will also teach a few Hawaiian phrases! Come join us as we explore the rich history and culture of Hawaii with guest speakers and many other sources to help paint a complete picture.

Note: the examples we have shared above are not real class descriptions. They have been created to help clarify our policies.

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