Friday, March 14, 2014

Teaching Classes; Food for Thought! ~ Twyla

      Back in the day when I was offered the opportunity of teaching my original designs at a local bead shop, I jumped at the chance, and thought it would be great fun. And it was!! But as usual, with experience being the best teacher, I learned many things along the path of my journey that I hadn't stop to consider before jumping in with both feet. It's some of  those things that I wish to present here today for you to ponder if you are considering teaching your original designs; a little food for thought! :)

1- Are you a people person? Unless you totally love people and are very gregarious by nature, teaching may not be as enjoyable for you as you first imagine. One thing is for certain, you will encounter and have to deal with all types of personalities and in some cases, they will all be in one room together. :) If you are an introvert and somewhat shy, as am I, being faced with all these personalities can be daunting and intimidating to say the least.

2- Am I prepared to take charge? Literally and figuratively, its your class and you have to be prepared to not only lead and guide it, but keep order and chaos to a minimum. It was my experience that there are basically two types of beady people that take classes; the social beader, who sees the experience as a night or afternoon out of the house and a chance to chit chat with friends as well as do something fun, and the serious, very focused beader who is there to learn a new technique and has little inclination to deal with  the aforementioned type. Now imagine both in your class, with one being a bit disruptive (not intentionally of course) and the other being irritated because they can't focus on the class. How do you handle it? How do you keep things on track as well as give both types what they are seeking from the experience?

3- Why do I want to teach?  Ask yourself why you want to teach? Are you there only for the income? Do you want to share your knowledge and expertise with others? Do you just enjoy people and the camaraderie or is it a combination of reasons? More than likely you will have more than one reason for wanting to teach a class; Very few of us teach with only one single thing in mind, but whatever your reason or reasons are, make sure they are clear in your own mind, so that you don't lose focus on "why" you are there doing what you are doing.

4- Are you prepared for the stress and pressure of having to create a new and original design to teach and doing it with the pressure of a deadline? If you teach classes with any regularity in a local venue, you will have to deal with this.
For some people, creating a new design comes as naturally as breathing air does. I am not one of those people. If you are like me, you will literally put more gray hair on your head while trying to create a new design, especially if there's  a deadline in the mix. Sometimes those new designs come easily and other times, not so much! Having to create a new design every couple of weeks or even monthly can be incredibly stressful and full of pressure, so be sure to look within and ask yourself, " Am I being realistic when I tell myself that I can develop a new design and tutorial every couple of weeks or monthly?"

5- Am I being realistic about the costs involved? Below is a partial list of costs that you may encounter when teaching. I am sure that there are others that I didn't encounter and haven't thought of.

       A- Transportation Costs

       How many miles will I have to drive to reach the class location? How much will the gas and oil cost? How much wear and tear will there be on my tires and the car over time?
       B- Copying or printing tutorials or patterns for everyone taking the class.

Either having them done professionally or purchasing ink and paper for your home computer printer.

       C- Needles and thread for each person in the class.

Many teachers provide these two things for each person taking their class and most especially for the new beader. Those needles and fireline adds up before you know it.

       D- Personal time involved in creating, beading a project and writing a tutorial/pattern for that project.

Your time is worth something and you need to take that into consideration as part of your over all cost to teach a class.

       E- If you are teaching at a local shop will they be taking a percentage and how much of a percentage of the total cost of the class does that amount to?

Most shops provide you with a space to teach your class for a percentage of the money that you charge your students. That percentage can vary but most charge around 30-40%.

       F- Beads and supplies to create the original project.

Some teachers like to put together kits for their students to purchase or include as part of the cost of taking the class. You need to consider your access to those beads. If you are working directly with a bead store they may or may not have in stock the beads you require for your design. In that case, what's your plan B? If you have to order from another source,how long is it going to take before you receive your order and is it cost effective?

As you can see there is more to teaching than what appears on the surface; some negatives and some positives.  I hope my insights have provided you with a starting place of things to consider if teaching classes is your goal, and always remember; Bead True to Yourself!