Learning by Giving Back – Teaching Introductory Steno to Future Court Reporting Students
How much could you learn by teaching potential court reporting students how to write the alphabet in Steno?
Personally, I learned how to use a number bar. During the early ‘80s, students’ machines were equipped with a number bar, but for some reason the school I attended did not use it. In fact, the number bar was removed from our Steno machines. Through teaching the A to Z Program, I was exposed to the benefit of using the number bar in my everyday writing. For me, the benefit was twofold. First, it’s conflict-free from my written numbers, like 95 (knife), 93 (knee), 72 (view) 63 (ski)…and the list goes on. Second, the Brief It function in the Case CATalyst software often suggests briefs that include using the number bar, which is simply awesome.
There currently are two introductory court reporting courses in which you teach students to write the alphabet and write numbers: Project Steno Basic Training and the NCRA A to Z Program. Both programs offer online and in-person courses and are virtually identical, as they were created by the same person, Nancy Varallo.
As an instructor, you can expect to spend around 24 hours teaching a class. Realistically, you could spend additional time locating your students, preparing for class, communicating with your future class, and doing some minor machine maintenance. Future reporters enjoy hearing the stories court reporters share about their careers, as well as the incalculable knowledge they have gained from covering depositions, trials, and broadcast captioning.
There are a couple of ways I have had success with finding potential students. First is by looking for people that are currently working in banks, law offices, or as transcriptionists. People in these types of professions already have the typing speed down. Second is to look for people who already possess the ability to read and play music. There is a similarity between writing and reading Steno and reading and playing music.
As far as the machines, the best machine for this class is the old manual machine. It’s a dinosaur, but it’s the one that works well for learning to write Steno. You will need paper and ink, and perhaps some plastic gloves for working on the ribbons, as it can get messy. As far as finding the machines, our state association, Oregon Court Reporters Association, put the word out that we needed machines, and court reporters, court reporting schools and Steno machine repair businesses kindly donated their old machines. We also share those machines with another A to Z leader in Oregon.
The last class we had four seasoned court reporter instructors co-teach the class, which made it easy and a lot of fun. So please consider giving it a try. You never know, you might learn something new along the way.