“I first want to know more so I can see if it’s something for me.”
What is “teaching”?
My definition: Teaching is about enabling others to do or create something, by organising information and processes in a way that makes them easy to learn and apply.
On a basic or “technical” level, teaching is a learnable skill. You can learn how to prepare and structure your classes, and how to create and organise class material, exercises and class projects in ways that reward your students’ efforts with success.
On a very down-to-earth level, you’ll find that your students become your teachers. I started teaching 30 years ago, and still I learn something new with every class I hold, be that about teaching or about myself.
And on a higher level, teaching is an art and a calling. It doesn’t matter whether you feel excited or nervous about the idea of teaching: If you feel that “inner pull”, that means you’ve got what it takes…even if you can’t see it yet!
Aside: I usually experience this pull in form of an initial “No way!” resistance, LOL. This occured at almost every major step of my way: Right at the beginning when one of my teachers told me to “go out and do it”, when I started teaching for an organisation, then when I was asked to train teachers-to-be, when I was asked to work with students that were professional crafters and artists (some of them even teachers themselves),…, and the latest, when I started CourseShaper. I’ve also seen such resistance or denial happening to other creatives whenever they change direction or start a new major project, so I think it’s just a normal phase that is best overcome by “just doing it”.
Take your time, there’s no need to push it: If teaching is for you, you’ll find that this pull will keep pulling you until you’re ready and willing to say Yes. 🙂
What’s different about teaching arts & crafts?
Teaching arts & crafts is different from teaching maths, languages or business skills for instance. We create manually, be it using tools and material or digitally on a screen. This manual process, or series of activities, has to be broken into steps and illustrated through visuals. Whereas visuals are always helpful for learning, for arts & crafts they are essential. Additional text (like instructions, tips, or lists) supplements and clarifies the visuals.
Imagine this: Someone who has never tied a bow tie phones you up and asks you to explain how to do it. Even if you manage to, just with words, what will the person on the other end of the line actually understand?? Sort of Chinese Whispers… How much easier and clearer would that be for instance with a series of photos, a video clip, or a step-by-step diagram?
What does teaching arts & crafts involve?
Unless you’re teaching for an organisation, or have someone else take care of the where and when, the pricing, and the promotion of your class, these are the main areas:
- WHY Finding out your general Reason Why – “Just for fun” is one of the best reasons IMO, because then you WILL have fun! Fun, joy and happiness are infectious, and your students will pick up on that, too!
- WHAT Choosing a general subject or topic, at least to begin with: What do you love doing, what comes easy to you? What do people tell you you’re good at? Or maybe you’ve already been asked “Can you show me how to do that?”
- FOR WHOM Deciding on your favourite audience: What kind of people would be most fun to work with? Who can you, personally, relate to best? Do you want to work with absolute beginners, people who already have some basic knowledge of the subject, or with experts who want to get to a new level? Example: I’m a crafter, designer and visual artist myself, so I’ve got an insider view. I love working with absolute beginners because I love to surprise my students with their own potential! But I also love working with people who already know what they’re doing, because that exchange takes both them and me to higher creative levels.
- WHERE & HOW Deciding on a venue or platform (at least to begin with): Do you want to teach locally or digitally? Locally could be at home, or at a public library, and digitally could be via email, via your blog or social media, or via an existing educational online platform.
- WHEN Deciding on a date or duration: If you’re just starting out, I’d suggest a one-off class or workshop rather than a course over weeks.
- PRODUCTION Creating the class itself: Deciding on a project, breaking down the process into steps, simplifying whatever can be simplified, producing the class material, making it available, correcting as necessary.
- INTERACTION Communicating with your students: When teaching locally or in form of a live online workshop, that happens automatically during your class, but else you need to find other ways for ensuring that information and feedback flow in both directions.
- PROMOTION Marketing your class: Deciding on a price, writing a class description and overview, talking confidently about it when you’re asked what you do ( = leaving breadcrumbs), spreading the word through emails, social media or blogging, creating sneak previews or free sample classes or tutorials, asking your students to spread the word for you (perhaps with a little incentive), and if your class remains accessible beyond a certain date, keep promoting it.
What’s the next step?
I hope you’ve got a better idea now of what teaching arts & crafts involves.
How about a creating a little tester so you can see for yourself? If you haven’t done so already, go to the Getting Started page.
If you have any questions regarding this article, please post them here in the comments, and see also the Feedback & Support page.