Spark 2019 Information

Want to teach for Spark? Here's the fine print.

What exactly do I need to do?

  • Come up with ideas for your class(es) and register by the deadline of February 11.
  • Make sure that you fulfill the MIT Minors Policy.
  • Familiarize yourself with our funding and reimbursement policy for class supplies.
  • Attend a teacher orientation if necessary (more information below).
  • Look out for our emails for further details!

When does Spark take place, and when must I register?

Spark 2020 will run on March 14-15, 2020. The deadline to register your classes is February 7! Please try to register classes as soon as possible so that we can review and schedule in time for students to sign up for them. This is particularly important if you are teaching for the first time or if you have unusual requests for your class (expensive supplies, lab space, consent forms, etc.)

Where does Spark take place?

Spark occurs on the MIT campus. In particular, almost all our classrooms are just off the Infinite Corridor in buildings 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 26. The main logistics for the event happens in the Spark HQ and teacher lounge, room 10-105. This is where you will check in, meet other teachers, and get free meals. We'll have more information for you after you register a class. If you are traveling from a distance, we have a limited number of travel subsidies to offer -- feel free to check out the application form.

What topics can we teach?

Short answer: Anything! STEM. Humanities. Arts and music. Sports. Games and puzzles. Hobbies and crafts. Outdoor activities. If you can't think of what to teach, check out our guide! You can also see what people taught last year by looking at last year's catalog. Also, check out our random class generator to see what's been taught in the past.

Longer answer: well, still anything, but if that's not specific enough for you, we'd be happy to help you figure out what you should teach. You're always welcome to send us an email to discuss or ask for feedback on class ideas. If you would like to talk to us in person, just come to one of ESP's meetings in October. Meetings are Tuesdays at 8 pm and Wednesdays at 7 pm in the ESP office (W20-467), with free dinner.

What types of classes can we teach?

Want to teach a giant lecture like your professors (or better than them)? We'll provide you a lecture hall. Want to lead a discussion seminar with a small group of students? That's also great! Want to mentor a few students with hands-on projects? All of these are types of classes that take place every year at Spark. We can even provide special facilities if needed, like kitchens for cooking classes, outdoor spaces for sports classes, and computer labs for programming classes.

Class lengths can be one, two, or three hours, and you may teach multiple sections (identical copies) of a class to different students. There is no limit to the number of classes or class sections that you can teach, provided that you have enough available time during Spark weekend.

What are walk-in activities?

Have an idea for a hands-on class? Consider teaching a walk-in activity!. Rather than a traditional class, walk-in activities are fun, high-energy, and constantly changing; students can visit them throughout their day at Spark. Activities are designed to be more interactive than traditional classes, and depending on what you’re teaching, your role might be more like the leader/director of the activity than the lecturer/teacher of a class.

Class Supplies

ESP offers generous funding for class supplies. You are automatically granted a budget of $30 to spend on each class section (or for each hour of a walk-in activity). If that's not sufficient for your class, you can also request additional funds via email. We'll gladly accommodate reasonable requests of any amount, but you must ask us first!

If you plan to purchase supplies, you should make a list of supplies at the level of detail you have planned so far in your class registration form under "Planned Purchases". When you make your purchases, be sure to get itemized receipts for everything you buy. Note that ESP cannot reimburse you for any tax, so use MIT's tax exempt form when buying your class supplies. See Reimbursements for more information.

Teacher Orientation

There will be several teacher orientation sessions in late February. In orientation, we will go over important information about teaching for Spark, as well as some tips for teaching. If you have never taught for an ESP program before, you must attend an orientation. Dates will be emailed out to registered teachers shortly after the registration deadline.

Even if you have taught before, we still encourage you to attend an orientation. Teacher orientations have lots of useful information, as well as a free meal! If you are teaching for the first time and cannot attend one of the orientation sessions, please email us to discuss alternatives. For more class-prep resources, check out our advice page or shoot us an email. We're always happy to help!

Contacting your students

MIT policy prohibits you from providing your personal contact information (email, phone, social media) to students or collecting your students' personal contact information. In particular, note that it is a violation of MIT policy to give your email to your students. This is a frequent mistake that we see teachers make.

After you register your classes, ESP will automatically create moderated email lists for you and your students to communicate through, avoiding the need to exchange personal contact information. More information will be available after you register.

What if something goes wrong?

Spark has a security hotline available the during the program at (617) 253-4941. You should call this number for any issues within Spark, like if your room isn't suited for your class, you have technology issues, you are running late, you are sick and can't teach, you need a band-aid, or a student can't find their parents (no need to call about registered students who are missing from your class). If there is a serious emergency, you should first call MIT police at (617) 253-1212 to get urgent assistance and then call the security hotline to let the administrators know what is going on. In the event of a medical emergency, MIT EMS will be able to get to you faster (they know the campus) than if you call 911.

Who should be in your class

The only people who should be at your class are students who have it on their schedule and teachers who are registered on this website to teach/observe it. Don't distribute the location of your class before Spark, to your students or anyone else: anyone actually enrolled in the class will have the room number on their schedule.

Mass transit

To get to the MIT campus by mass transit, take the Green Line B or C train to Hynes Convention Center; then walk upstairs and take the #1 Bus outbound to the “77 Massachusetts Ave / MIT” stop (don't cross the street from the train station).

Alternatively, from Hynes Convention Center, walk north four blocks on Massachusetts Ave and cross the Harvard Bridge; from there, keep going on Massachusetts Ave for another half-block and follow the signs to the correct building. Expect about 20 to 30 minutes of travel time.

Finally, you can also take the Red Line to Kendall/MIT, walk down Main Street towards the MIT campus, and follow signs to check-in once you're inside.

Great! What do we do next?

Return to the main page to register your class! Afterwards, look out for our emails with more information.

Last modified on Feb. 09, 2020 at 03:29 p.m.