Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Last month I posted my top 5 tips for instructors on both planning for and execution of an art workshop. In response, I received an email from an artist who shared with me her own list of tips from the perspective of a student. I think her thoughts are right on target and have included them below. I believe they could be helpful to many instructors in our community. Any resemblance to a workshop instructor that you have had may be purely coincidental. Or not.
1. Avoid extended introductions. Class time is usually limited and it should not be used to "get to know each other." At retreats, people can get to know each other at meals and the bar. Classes should be - primarily - for instruction.
2. Avoid padded supply lists. An oversized supply list is a safety net for the teacher, but can be a hardship financially and physically for the participants. Try to limit lists, or perhaps provide a "bare bones" list and then some suggestions for additional "niceties." And do not list items by specific manufacturers unless they are absolutely necessary. Instead, provide the item type and then share info about your own likes.
3. Make sure that the workshop content reflects the pre-workshop description. Yes -- I have taken workshops with artists who presented a totality different project or technique from the one offered.
4. Attitude. The teacher's first job is to generate enthusiasm or excitement for the subject. I think I believe that an enthusiastic teacher with lesser skills can often outshine the skilled teacher who is "just there." On this topic...
-----Do not demonstrate boredom.
-----Do not use workshop time to work on your own projects.
-----Do not present a "live" book or video. By this I mean that a workshop should be largely a unique entity and not just a "phone it in" presentation of the instructor's videos or book.
-----Avoid editing the content/demonstration when there are a number of "groupies" present. They may have heard the basics before , but the newbies deserve the full course.
5. The Delicate Dance. Instructors are charged with a dual task: to present/protect their own style/vision and to foster/nurture individual expression in their students. Not an easy task, but when it is done well, it is a source of creative excitement. I think it is what we are seeking when we sign-up for workshops and retreats.
Thoughts? Opinions? Additional tips?