Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Green teacher

Today was my first day of teaching at the local pottery center, & I think it went pretty well. Not stellar, but not bad. For one thing I'm a novice teacher - I've taught kids at a summer camp handbuilding with clay. That's about the extent of it, and now I have two entirely different classes: adult clay building - a mix of hand building & throwing - & kids throwing.

The adult class consists of old-timers who have taken that same class together for months, perhaps years, and they all had an idea of what they wanted to do, they all had projects they were already working on. They're quite sociable and it seems they take the class simply for fun, to enjoy the company of their classmates, and to have someone to answer this classic question when they see something interesting in a picture: "How did they do that?" I can usually answer those questions, but for the remainder of the class, I'm not entirely sure what I should be teaching with everyone going in different directions. So I started out demonstrating how to make pots footed, similar to these works by Willi Eggerman & Tara Wilson, then socialized & answered sporadic questions the remainder of class, wondering how else to make myself useful as most of the students seemed to be fine with their current projects. Next week I plan to teach more on throwing, but of the two classes, it's the true beginners that I'm more concerned about...

Kids are a whole nother animal. I have a difficult time as it is enunciating precisely what I'm doing as I throw a pot, but to get an 11-year-old to simply center clay is a challenge. Any advice in this area is more than welcome. Do I need to watch every video I can of beginning pottery and teach all my friends & family to throw in order to become a good teacher? I'm sure that wouldn't hurt... so what videos would you recommend I check out from the local library?


Brian said...

Try looking at Andy Ruble's vids on YouTube, '6 steps to throwing bliss' - wish I'd found them back when I was first starting out.

Jesse Lu said...

How many 'teachers' have taught you to throw? There in lies the answer. No 11 year old, or 71 year old for that matter, is going to learn to throw from only one teacher. So your only objective is really to teach them how 'you' throw. As far as conveying your instructions goes for little kids, try and think of 'little kid speak'. Talk to any elementary teachers you know. And use allegories if you can think of any... For centering maybe the claw? The heels of your hand together like a lobster claw... one side of the claw wants to push the clay into the right place, and the other side of the claw just wants to make sure the clay stays in the right place... I dunno. I've never taught kids how to throw. Sounds like the hardest thing ever. Good luck! :)

Jerry said...

Just found your blog, so this comment is a bit late in coming:

Your adult class sounds very similar to the one that I am in. We have a variety of skill levels, but most have been in the class for a while.

Our teacher has a different demo every week, ranging from handbuilding to throwing to deco. Though I am not always 100% crazy about whatever particular piece she is demo-ing, there is always something I take away from it. The rest of the time she is answering questions, critiquing works (in-progress and completed), working on pieces and being social. We love our class.

As long as you are passing on your clay knowledge and making it an enjoyable, creative learning environment, you are on the right path.

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