Hello my Glowforge friends,
I have a second chance at my dream job after being rejected a couple weeks ago. The position is managing a brand new college makerspace, which includes designing and implementing pedagogical content for the space. I don’t have experience in education, which was my downfall last time. The five minute presentation they allowed me was not enough time to get into my groove. I now have an opportunity to do a 45 minute workshop showing students in the space how to make nail polish covered wire flowers. This will almost certainly go over better than my OpenSCAD presentation I did previously, and is an opportunity for a “re-interview” by the hiring manager.
The point of all this is to ask those of you who do instruction in crafts, making, technology, etc. for some tips. What are the things that make you a good instructor/teacher. What are the pitfalls that I need to be wary of falling into?
Most importantly, have a clear, written outline of what you plan to teach–a lesson plan, then stick to it. Remember to incorporate breaks as needed, for both the students’ comfort and yours. It also helps to practice your class in advance with friends who can offer constructive criticism.
Problems that I have encountered are things like technology/equipment that doesn’t work (so test it in advance), straying from the lesson plan, fractious or disruptive students (pull them aside during a break if necessary), and timing (practice, practice, practice).
Advance preparation will get you 90% of the way to a successful class!
I’m not a pro, but everything she said plus one other thing…try to relax and have fun with it. It’s not an opportunity to show how much you know, it’s an opportunity to show how well you impart that knowledge to other people. And that always goes down better with a little humor.
Handouts with links to materials, all the steps you’re covering, etc., so no one feels like they need to take notes.
Be prepared for questions you may not know the answer to. When in doubt, I just say, “You know, that’s a great question. I can look into it and get back to you.” Or even, “I haven’t tried that yet, but it sounds like it could work. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!” Whatever. Just have some answers ready so you aren’t flustered.
The fact that you don’t have experience in education is an immense PLUS.
My dad teaches wood turning down in Safety Harbor. his classes are ALWAYS full. he shows the goal, and circulates making sure everybody is doing it correctly.
show how things go step by step, and a little extra.
A) Here are the steps. quick outline of the process.
then ok this is step 1 that will get us to this. have and end of step one item to show.
show how to do step one, then circulate to make sure everybody is doing it correctly. the reality is some folks won’t absorb each step. better to head them off at the pass.
My lab partner in college chemistry was always like “Chris nobody else is doing it this way.” well they are all doing it wrong, you want to get out of the lab and have dinner with your boyfriend or not? we got done and left the rest of that crew bumbling around. we all got the same explanation, but it didn’t stick.
then explain/demonstrate step 2 showing what is should be like at that point. with a completed step 2 part.
and so on.
I have found people arrive where you need them to if they have a clear vision of what they are trying to achieve.
A deeper voice will travel farther depending on the size of the room - not saying to use your Klingon growl, but if you have a naturally high-pitched voice be aware of that and increase volume/decrease speed as necessary
Okay, first off, you have the number one thing needed. A real desire to do this. I have no doubt about your technical abilities but by your own words, you lack experience teaching.
There is not much time but that is okay, you are a quick study. It doesn’t take 4 years to learn the fundamentals of effectively sharing your knowledge.
The first time I learned it was in a two week course in the navy. We can’t very well get you into that so let us see what we can find. Oh, here’s a great book/course from the FAA that is free to download. This is written for ground and flight instructors but the carryover will be near 100%, just substitute something else every time an aircraft is mentioned.
Also, just reading will not be super effective, you will need to grab someone who will not hate you for it and practice after you have worked up a syllabus outline.
A couple of things of note. one very unrecognized thought is that as folk get older they lose the ability to hear higher frequency sounds first and it is what happens there that most distinguishes one word from another so the effect on the listener is he everyone seems to mumble more and more when it is their own ears, but they will be slow to recognize that to be the case. They will miss much of what you say and puzzle it together from what parts they did get, but usually too embarrassed to ask you to repeat yourself. or if they do ask, or ask n a different way. it may sound like a stupid question as you had already just told them and they missed it. If the reaction from you or the other students is bad they will stop asking.
There are a few well-known teaching methods that help understand that missing a word here or there will have little effect. One is to tell them what you will tell them, then tell them the information, and then cover what you told them. Another is to demonstrate it in pictures or actually doing the project so they can see what you re doing. If you are doing on the computer or some small operation projecting on to a larger external screen can help a lot. if actual like soldering having a camera to live project the wok helps a lot. Saving it all as a video for re-watching or even putting on Youtube extends the usefulness and value of your efforts.
good advice here, but a 45 minute workshop will go by so fast, I can almost guarantee you will run out of time, particularly if it’s your first time doing it. So I will suggest time management is critical. Know where you need to be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes in. Plan ahead for a smooth landing in rough weather. What will you do to get everyone to stop playing and return to listening? How can you ensure the participants leave with some sense of accomplishment even if they can’t finish their projects?
I am a high school teacher, and have some general teaching advice for activities involving materials. Before I get into it, though there is a lot of great advice here already, and if you try to focus on trying too many things at once you may get overwhelmed. Definitely make sure to be yourself when you are out there, I spent several years struggling as a teacher and I finally realized it was because I was trying to emulate a teaching style that didn’t fit my personality.
As far as activities go, you will have a hard time giving instruction once the materials are in hand, so it can be helpful to think about what you want to tell students before they get into the materials. Keep bits of instruction short, so that students don’t forget steps, but you can also have a written version available as handout, or posted somehow, so those moving quicker can keep going on and not have to wait for slower moving students. Once the activity has begun it may be more efficient to interact with smaller groups to give bits of instruction, and only calling the attention of the whole group when there is something important that everyone needs to hear right away. Whenever I am talking to a group of students, I usually ask them to have their eyes on me to ensure they are at least pretending to listen to what I am saying. This is how I would approach something like this, but at the end of the day, it is best to do it in a way that you are most confident, and the students will respond best to that.