|Lovely faces, clean table, and all the tools, all ready to go. What are they all looking at me for? Oh right, I am teaching.|
Sharing a creative process in a workshop can be very rewarding for both instructor and participants. It can also be a train wreck for one or all involved. Over five years and countless workshops, I have fortunately experienced more of the former but sadly, both. This series of blog posts about workshops is intended to share some of what I have learned, help instructors prepare, help participants understand what is involved, and hopefully entertain along the way.
You are reading "Teaching Workshops Series 1: The Nuts and Bolts"
Please also see, "Teaching Workshops Series 2: The Process" and
The success of a workshop can hinge on many contingents: the complexity of the project, the time allowed, the number of people, the preparedness of the instructor, the attitudes of the participants, and, I swear, the alignment of the Planet Venus.
You can swing your chances of ending on a high note by being prepared, limiting your class numbers, having plenty of time, and understanding a few fundamentals about people (See "Teaching Workshop Series 3: The People.")
No matter your medium, whether you are teaching at home, in a rented space, online, or through a local shop, the following information may help you plan and execute, hopefully without a hitch.
Advertising and Collecting Payment
If you are teaching on your own, you will need a system. How are you going to reach your market, collect money, keep track of who is coming, handle cancellations, illness, contact participants when needed?
Here is an example of our sign up sheet. You may also want to record the class size minimum and maximum.
|Very first workshop at Sarafina Art House was 5 days long! July 2014. We ended up calling it boot camp. We were ambitious.|
Preparing the Project
|This little fox oil took me an hour, but in the workshop it took us four.|
My understanding of the project is not only about how to make it myself, but how to convey each step to the class participants in a clear and step by step manner. I have become good at this with needle felting. I am now also teaching painting and realized that I need to hone my ability to convey the process. What happens when I paint alone can emerge without thought or understanding - being able to explain it to a a group of people so that they might achieve a similar result is another story.
An important aspect of this preparation is gaining an understanding for the time needed. In general, it takes me twice as long to teach a needle felting class as it does for me to make a project, fairly consistently no matter the size or complexity. I am still figuring painting out, but I paint quickly. I need to allow 3 times of class time to my work time for painting.
I recently taught a painting class. I adeptly and quickly "prepared," painting a fox in less than and hour. It was a thrill and a success. When I was teaching the four hour class, however, I realized that I had no words to explain the middle of the process. I had a room full of people with very different paintings, waiting to be lead to the end of their masterpiece, and all I could say was, "You just make paint puddles to pull from and start building contrast." That, clearly, is not a sufficient explanation! I have since refined my painting teaching ability, but it just goes show that just like learning a new craft, teaching takes practice.
Once you have system and a plan for your project, it's time to organize your space. Please check out the next blog in the series to see how a workshop unfolds. Teaching Workshops Series 2: The Process
|Three Day Advanced Gorilla Workshop|