Advice for teaching
Beginning in April I will be teaching beginner art classes for adults with my local arts center. I’m excited but also nervous because I’ve never taught anything like this. I get to choose the length of each class, how many weeks the course will be, and the content of the course.
It will be one class per week and I’m thinking 1 hour and 30 minute classes for 8 weeks. I’d like to cover line control, basic shapes, basic perspective, observational techniques, and scratch the surface of value and possibly creating shapes from your imagination. I’m imaging most classes will consist of a brief demo and then the students applying that information via basic shape still lifes. I’ve been worried about not having enough content but thinking about it after typing this out it may not be a problem.
TLDR: what/ how much can I teach in an 8 week art course?
What do you wish you knew when you first taught classes?
Any and all tips are welcome!
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@griffin That's so interesting, I wish you a lot of fun teaching!
I imagine it is hard to plan such a class because you have very little knowledge about the student's levels or interests or aims.
When I think about what courses hooked me most three things come to my mind.
The first is the exitement of the teacher about their subject. If the enthusiasm comes across I found myself enjoying things I wasn't even very interested in before.
And second I enjoy if there is freedom of choice in the tasks. Like when I have to learn value let me chose the motif. It might be my personal problem but I learn so much faster if I enjoy the task.
And the last is that the tasks are applicable to my skill level, not to simple not to hard. So ideally they are flexible.
For the content to me personally learning to draw losely and bold, to sketch without worries is a very important first step.
@griffin 7 year teacher here...trust me plan for things to go longer than you anticipate. An hour and a half once a week isn't really that much time, especially over only 8 weeks. Is that time limit set in stone? I'd recommend trying to get at least a solid two hours in. If you're getting to choose the length, maybe even 2.5-3 (with breaks and longer periods of work built in)
The amount of content you have sounds fine. Keep in mind that the brain begins to lose focus after a certain amount of time, so I'd say keep demos where students aren't doing anything but watching no more than 15 minutes at first. It's a different story if they're working alongside you. My first experience teaching I spoke for 45 minutes, lost the kids after 15. Now with adults, they are more likely to pay attention, but still we want them engaged
Working alongside them also helps!
Keep your lessons simple and trust me, things will not go as planned a lot of the time, so try to roll with the punches.
Start with the basics, like you said. Assume your audience/class has little to no experience as well.
I could go on and on but I hope this is a start. Let me know what other questions you might have.
@lpetiti I definitely plan on working along side them, I always found that helpful in art classes. I want to keep lecturing and demos to a minimum but I expect questions from the students and having to further explain things will add to that time. The length is pretty much whatever I like but part of my reasoning for making it 1.5 hours is that I’m new to this and I don’t know what my limits are yet as a teacher but that might be too cautious. 2 hours will probably be fine. I’m sure a lot more of that time will be chewed up than I realize but I’ll learn as I go!
@griffin it's good you're adding time in for questions, I'd highly suggest at least two hours, especially since there will be students that will have different learning styles and may need different explanations.
@lpetiti how about size of the class? I hadn’t thought about this until it was brought up to me. They have 15 easels, I’ll need one so that’s a 14 student max. What have you found to be a comfortable amount of students?
@griffin I mean I teach high school so I've had as many as 45 students in my class. Then again I've never really had a choice in that, hahah.
I'd say check with your arts center to make sure they don't have a minimum number of students they want. After that, try to get the max that you can; it will show the arts center there's a good amount of interest so that, if you like teaching, they will want to continue on with the class during other times of the year. If a class is too low, many places will shutter it. I once tried to teach an illustration class to elementary school students, had only a handful sign up, so the class was cancelled.
@lpetiti thanks! Another question. Do you know where to get those basic shapes for observational drawing? Just the classic white cube, cylinder and cone you see in every art classroom? The internet has utterly failed me in my search for them.
@griffin I'll be honest I got cheap. I went to Michaels and got the smooth styrofoam shapes and covered plastic cubs from the store in paint. I agree, they're difficult to find. Most of the teachers I've worked with have had these shapes for ages already; I don't even know if you can find them in art stores!