Tomorrow I’ll be teaching felt bead making at Crafty Goodness and I’m really excited about it!
This wont be my first time teaching people how to make felt beads using the wet felting technique. I taught my first class in felting and felt bead making last August while I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco. Now that was a learning experience! It was definitely a “make it work” moment; one I will not soon forget.
But I got through it and I learned from it.
Then, this past April, I was asked to lead a felt bead making demonstration at River Colors Studio. This demonstration, which was like a class really, went very smoothly and restored my confidence that I could teach this process.
The following are a few tips that I would like to share, birthed from the lessons I’ve learned from my previous teaching experiences.
1) You don’t need to be an expert at a process in order to teach it, you just need to know it better than the people who are learning it from you. I say this because you should never rest on your laurels and believe that you, as the teacher, have nothing more to learn. You should always be practicing your craft and through your practice learning something new about it. Thus, making expertise unobtainable.
2) Be a Girl Scout about it, meaning, be prepared! Don’t just be prepared, be over prepared! I really can’t stress this point enough. This means showing up early to set up equipment, having all materials ready the day before at the latest, and thinking of contingency plans just in case something goes wrong. Also, think really carefully about all the things that you will need to teach the class and make sure that it will be available at the site where you will be teaching; don’t assume anything.
3) Conduct a practice class. This is mostly important if you have never formally taught the class before. You’ll want to at least be aware of how long the class will take. You can also use your friends and family members as guinea pigs if you are unsure if your communication skills will come across clear and concise enough.
4) Make samples. Actual, physical examples of finished products should be shown at the beginning of the class so that students can have something to work toward. Even if they aren’t supposed to be making that exact necklace, or t-shirt, or whatever, they will have an idea of what is possible. (The photo at the top of this post is a simple necklace that I made using beads made from the same wool we will be using in the class tomorrow.)
5) Teaching aids. Everyone learns differently. If you are teaching something that could be translated from the visual to written or diagram form you should provide those along with your visual instruction. This will also keep the information fresh in your student’s minds once they leave your class.
6) Be confident, and if your not than fake it. If you have done all of the above this should be easy because you will be prepared. But, in the rare chance that something unexpected happens, this doesn’t mean the class has to fall apart. Just keep going and make it work.
7) Have fun! If you are having fun, chances are your students will too and really, that usually matters just as much if not more than learning the technique in the first place.
Are you a teacher or have you ever taught something, either formally or informally? Chances are you have! What tips would you add to this list?
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