How do you choose who teaches at PUGS?

This is definitely more an art than a science! We are developing a small advisory board to help us hone criteria for the future and to choose some faculty in the near term. In the interim, we are seeding the course schedule with courses and instructors with whom we have been having informal conversations over the last several months. PUGS is an ever-evolving adventure, and we are working to build accountability and transparency on this path.

Our community has helped us understand what types of courses they are interested in taking. We have posted those course ideas on our “Teach at PUGS” webpage and invite folks to apply to teach a course. A few additional considerations:

  • We work to ensure that our faculty collectively bring a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. This is a vital factor in developing the richness of PUGS’ community.

  • People who have taught previously at PUGS and who have received supportive reviews from former students are begged to return. We have a beloved and growing core faculty as a result, which is magical.

  • We tend to weight referrals from others (“You know who should teach a class on this topic? This person!”) a little higher than we do self-referrals.

  • If an instructor has a really interesting idea for a course, already knows of folks lining up to take it, and needs a convening organization, we try to accommodate that, even if it’s a new idea our community hasn’t thought to ask for yet.

How would you describe the teaching style?

PUGS is about transformational education experiences and community-building. Although every instructor brings their unique facilitation philosophy and techniques, we want there to be a consistent feeling of participatory learning happening in every workshop and course.

Instructors are encouraged to see themselves more as facilitators and coaches than content providers. This means creating space for facilitated discussions, hands-on activities, group work, self-discovery through writing and other reflective exercises, etc.

Do I need a degree to teach at PUGS?

No, you don’t. When we sent out a survey to our community in spring 2019 to ask what qualities they look for in a PUGS instructor, not a single person mentioned the need for a degree or prior publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Some of our instructors do hold terminal degrees and/or also teach at universities and community colleges, and other instructors do not.

What our instructors do all share in common is expertise on their topic of choice—through lived experience, facilitated classroom or on-the-job learning, or self-guided inquiry—and passion for building both community and a brave/safe learning environment.

Who owns my course content?

You do! It is not unprecedented that a course topic has been taught using the same title by different instructors, which is a practice employed by a variety of schools. However, PUGS does not own your course content.

Can I teach a course through PUGS and also independently or through another school/venue?

Absolutely. We ask that instructors not teach the same course at the same time in two different venues targeted to the same audiences in a way that directly competes with each other. That said, we want PUGS to be part of your journey as a coach, a facilitator, an instructor. Our instructors are amazing people! We want to support you, not limit you.

What course format(s) are most common?

Courses typically meet once a week for 4 weeks, and classes are between 90 and 120 minutes long. These courses are generally held on weekday evenings, but that isn’t a hard or fast rule.

We also have daylong and half-day courses. The timing, length, and frequency of courses can be modified based on what makes sense for the topic and instructor’s teaching style.

Can I teach an online course?

We are currently noodling on how and whether and when to host PUGS online courses. The only online PUGS course offered right now is Financial Freedom 1. If you have thoughts, please share them with us!

What is an average class size?

Class size is generally around 15 students. Some instructors cap the course at a lower number for a variety of reasons. First-time courses can be smaller, as small as four people. We work with instructors to get the word out about their course to ensure every course is a vibrant, worthy experience for everyone.

Where are PUGS courses held?

We do not currently have our own venue, which means we partner with local nonprofits and businesses to host courses. Sometimes instructors have relationships with a venue they wish to use. While we do our best to find venues that meet all needs for the course, we occasionally have to get creative.

On the whole, we work to ensure that venues are ADA accessible, have access to A/V equipment, and have both transit and parking nearby. Our favorite places are venues owned/operated by groups committed to racial and social justice, social entrepreneurship, and Portland’s diverse communities.

What is the payment structure?

PUGS is a for-purpose venture. As such, we believe in profiting with, not from, instructors. Instructors and PUGS split the net revenue 50/50. This allows us to continue to build the community and dedicate effort to logistics, operations, marketing, partnership development, and longer-term course planning. And it allows your time, expertise, and efforts to be valued as a full partner in this endeavor.

Courses with smaller class sizes net smaller revenue for both PUGS and instructors. This sometimes happens with first-time courses, even though a first edition of a course requires the most effort from everyone. It can be frustrating, and also it happens. We view it as an investment in the future success of your course and the beginning of a (hopefully) long-term relationship. We also work hard to partner with you to get the word out about your course!

Do you have questions that we didn’t cover here? Please shared them with Steph: