Teaching classes again

Remember those cutting boards I wrote about earlier? Well, I’ve now started teaching workshops on how to make them at Techshop. So far I’ve just taught two – one in September and one in October. They both went really well and filled up quickly, so I’l be sure to teach more soon – especially with gift-giving season coming up, everyone wants to make presents for people.

I was incredibly nervous before my first class. Not only because it was my first class in over a year, but because I’ve never taught this kind of thing before. It’s a lot different teaching a hands-on skill like making a cutting board than it is teaching English. I went in two days before and did a walk through, making a cutting board myself and pretending I had students around me. Then the night before the class I spent hours adapting my Instructable┬áinto a handout for the students. Even after I made the handout I read it, and re-read it, and re-read it again, and finally had my mom read it over.

But once I actually got to Techshop and started setting things up, I was surprised how much it felt like teaching a normal class – just like setting up a class at Chungdahm. Make the printouts, prepare the work materials, quickly think up some friendly opening lines and banter. There were some hiccups on the back end – the wood, which was supposed to be milled flat before class by the shop staff, was almost, but not quite ready. So we had to spend some extra time in class running it through the planing machine to smooth it out. The glue provided was not the glue I had ordered, so I was worried it wouldn’t work – but it turns out that the staff had researched it, and their glue was chemically identical to mine, only cheaper. Good deal

By the time I actually started class, all my old confidence teaching had returned, and I had a really good time. The students were nice, receptive and appreciative, and they had lots of good questions to ask which gave me ideas for some experiments to try in my own future work. Plus, I got paid for it! Bonus!

And that’s not all – afterward the education director told me they are looking for more teachers for other classes – not only at the San Francisco Techshop, but also in Menlo Park and San Jose. It’s a freelance gig, so it’s not a steady job – but that’s perfect for me, exactly the type of work I’m looking for at the moment. I think I could easily teach any of the woodshop classes, except for the wood lathe and advanced jointery classes. She said all I have to do is sit in and observe another instructor teaching the class, then teach one class supervised, and then I can teach the class anytime in the future.

I can also work with one of their staff members to develop my cutting board workshop, along with other workshops I think up, into full-fledged classes that anyone can teach. The downside is that I would lose my exclusive instructor status for that class, but the upside is that I get paid for the time spent developing it into a full class, and they will be able to teach it even if I move, or go abroad to teach again.

This opportunity came at a perfect time. Just teaching one workshop a month pays for most of my Techshop membership – and one more class per month would start making me a profit. In addition, I have another great opportunity coming up this month, which I’ll talk about later.

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