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Getting ready to teach metalsmithing, Part 2

What to prepare for the actual day that you stand up to teach
Sheppard teaching p 1

Ready to start sharing your talents with the world? DO IT! But wait, how do you teach a workshop? Where the heck do you start?

I know you're ready to start teaching, I have faith in you! Just take a deep breath, step back and keep reading.

In Part One of this article, we covered the basics of booking your workshop: coming up with a topic, writing your Workshop Description, and figuring out where you should apply to teach. There are so many great local art centers, park district programs, galleries, and more! I know you can find the perfect place to practice your craft!

But now the Big Day approaches.  What do you do?!?

Prep Information/Instructional Sheets

Writing handouts for your students can help you get focused for your actual worksheet. 

Information Sheet

This can include an outline of the class and tips about tools, including information about where and what can they buy after the class for their studios. Other great things to include would be techniques, history, fun facts, things about you, or anything that has to do with the workshop. This can also be a reference guide for students to go back to during the workshop.

This doesn’t have to be a stark white boring piece of paper. Make it fun! Add a fun, funky or inspiring quote to the top of the page, add color, and drawings. Make sure to have your contact info on yout Information Sheet in case students need to reach out to you with follow-up questions. 

Instructional Sheet 

This can be part of your information sheet, or it can be an attachment. Your instructional sheet should be easy to read, have a list of all tools and materials used during the workshop, and a step-by-step description of the project and/or technique created during class.

Tips for Teaching

Give few options, keep students focused

Students will get excited; I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but limit their options. I don’t believe in limitation, BUT in this case, I will make an exception.

Limitations will keep students focused. If they want to try a different design or technique, applaud the student for their curiosity and drive and let them know if there is time at the end of class, you would be more than happy to show them. But during the class itself, they need to focus on the current design/technique. Of course, before you volunteer to show another technique, make sure you have the tools, and that you actually want to do this. If not, it’s always okay to say no. It’s better to say no than promise something you can’t deliver. 

Stay positive

Students feed off your energy, so stay positive. Answer questions, give positive feedback. If someone is struggling, learn the art of sandwiching negative comments between pieces of positive feedback. As an example: “I see that you’re very excited about this technique. Try center punching the metal before you drill a hole to help guide the drill bit. I know you’ve got this.”

Be honest if you don’t know all the answers. Again, it’s okay to not know it all but it’s not okay to not be prepared. Get a good night sleep the night before the workshop, give yourself enough time in the am or the night before to set everything up, have food or snacks with you and drink plenty of water during the workshop. But most importantly….Have fun!!! Everyone is excited to be there to connect, to learn and play with metal!!!

Pros

  • You’re passing along the knowledge that you have learned from others. You are now an important link in the metal world.  
  • Teaching will increase self-confidence, and show you that you really do know what you are doing!  
  • You’ll create new relationships, new followers, and new clients.
  • Good pay! This can be a full time gig if you work at it!

Cons

  • Teaching can be intense, you are ON always during the workshop. You will spend most of your time motivating others to stay positive, give pointers on techniques, stay at pace/on schedule (so that everyone can finish their projects in time). 
  • If the workshop doesn’t fill, no one signs up, or the minimum for the center is not met, then the class will cancel and you are out money. You need to make sure that the art center has the clientele and marketing ability to fill the class. You need to make sure your class appeals to students so they will want to sign up. If you are unsure, talk to the centers about what their students would want to learn.
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