Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
straitsviewphotos

New Teacher ..help!

Recommended Posts

Hello

I am an artist without a ceramics background.I did dabble in throwing and building in college...hmmmm that was in 1978 ha ha.

so not I am asked to teach ceramics to a group of students grades 7-9 (classes will be mixed) there will be 8-16 students in the class. I have two wheels , one a kick one electric and one big scary kiln ha ha.

 I have learned so much from reading this site.

however I have questions.

I only have one class for 8 weeks so just 8 classes.

what would be a great project for those 8 weeks ? or should I do more than one ?opinions?

 What do i absolutely need to have  on hand in the studio ? and what suggestions does anyone have for a first time ceramics studio teacher with not much knowledge in the subject?

Thanks so much to everyone in advance. This is an amazing site.

peace

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

in other words, please condense your entire pottery education into an answer i can assimilate in the time it takes to read it.  

 

you have a very large mountain in front of you.  good luck with that.

 

this is the busiest time of the year for most potters who sell their work, maybe some of the teachers can recommend a syllabus.

GiselleNo5 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1-2 week projects, one of multiple pinch forms have the students fire the best 3, one coil, one slab(pre-planned from sketches), last two weeks of glazing, firing and studio clean-up. I would start with wedging and pinch pots-1-2lb at first work up to 3-5. Show them about rolling by inserting a dowel in to the ball or lug, pinch irregular forms, regular forms, make joined forms, and whistles, do what you are comfortable with. coils teach them that this is an "extended pinch technique" show them to pinch the coils into the coils before for stronger joins, show them the use of slip to join coils in stiffer manner. Finally do your slabs with joining with slip, I had them do preliminary sketches after some intro during the coiling time so that they had time to do sketches for planning the project at home. I did fairy houses, and regular houses, slab boxes with pressed decoration, slabs over river rocks about 4" in diameter, then cut lids and decorative forest or imagination handles.

 

You can really have fun thinking up ideas for the group, think about  what may interest them and tie it into historical contexts from other cultures. It will be a whirlwind, but lots of fun for them and you. Use lots of visuals to introduce each project that will help them with ideas.

 

best,

Pres

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you very much Pres ! many great ideas. Old Lady... my pottery education? ceramics class 1978 ... so I am a total novice. But I do have a fine arts back ground. What I am most afraid of is that big scary Kiln!!!!

The short amount of time I have is another obstacle . Thanks for all the information on this website everyone.

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Find yourself a local ceramic artist that can do a demo or brief workshop. Even an interested student from a nearby college could help.

 

My first art teacher didn't know much about clay, but she did her level best to get us in front of those who did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you everyone for all your help, I am sorry it took so long to respond ... I forgot my password.ugh

anyway, I have been busy cleaning the studio as the last person never cleaned and there is junk and dust everywhere.

I think I will follow your advice and start with handbuilding.

at what point do you all feel that introducing throwing on the wheel is appropriate in the progression of  learning ceramics?

The problem is that they mix levels together in this school so I will have kids who did learn how to throw... (honestly not correctly I am sure)

and kids who have never even touched clay.Personally I want to do this right and slowly build on their knowledge so that everything is done well and not hurried.

Thanks for all the ideas!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

oh another question, how much clay do you feel that I should order for say 20 kids to start out with? 100pounds  200 ?  I have no idea really. and is it best to order a few different colors say 50 lbs of red and 50 lbs of white? or is it best to just use one type ? and how much glaze should I order? I have been looking at the assorted lots on amazon . This is a lot to think about eh? :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Meeting once per week is a challenge as more challenging/complex projects can't be done in a single period. Choose two or three one class projects, knowing you will need class periods for glazing, etc. Don't think you'll need more than 25 lbs. per student per 8-week class; teach them how to save and recycle scraps.

 

One clay is best -- otherwise you need duplicate sets of tools, etc; also makes clean up easier. Plus, the red will eventually get into the white clay either on purpose, accident, or other intent.

 

Most schools fire low-fire. Amaco has a teacher's palette of low fire glazes that work well; you can even mix colors to add to the selection.

 

Have your projects, but also allow students to play . . . most will tend to make some type of sculpture from scraps, etc.

 

If a student knows how to throw on the wheel, let him/her. But you are not going to have enough time to teach wheel and you don't have enough wheels for a class to use. I would stick with handbuilding. Here is a good project book to consider -- https://www.amazon.com/Handbuilt-Pottery-Techniques-Revealed-Handbuilding/dp/1438001991

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From a students point of view, mixed levels of ability is a fantastic thing, particularly if it's self directed in any way. That's how my high school art classes were structured. The older kids teach the younger, and anyone with an aptitude in a particular area got assigned to be a resource for anyone who wanted to learn about a particular method or technique. The resource kid was in charge of making sure the users of their particular area cleaned up properly, and kept the teacher appraised of art supply levels/states.

straitsviewphotos likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you may need closer to 75 pounds/ student or more for an 8 week class. You may have to stick with hand building unless you let 3 kids try the wheel while the others handbuild. That gets tricky.

I taught at the college level but one of the more interesting projects was a sculpture 

of a personal experience that they found memorable. Got some really interesting ones.

Save it for later in the course.

 

 

Marcia

straitsviewphotos likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you may need closer to 75 pounds/ student or more for an 8 week class. You may have to stick with hand building unless you let 3 kids try the wheel while the others handbuild. That gets tricky.

I taught at the college level but one of the more interesting projects was a sculpture 

of a personal experience that they found memorable. Got some really interesting ones.

Save it for later in the course.

 

 

Marcia

75 pounds per student??? oh my I do not think that this is in the budget. I have ordered 25 per student and we do have some let over so we shall see how it goes. I may have not made myself clear ... it is an 8 week class but we only meet one day a week for about 2 hours . Thank you for your help :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I think you may need closer to 75 pounds/ student or more for an 8 week class. You may have to stick with hand building unless you let 3 kids try the wheel while the others handbuild. That gets tricky.

I taught at the college level but one of the more interesting projects was a sculpture 

of a personal experience that they found memorable. Got some really interesting ones.

Save it for later in the course.

 

 

Marcia

 

75 pounds per student??? oh my I do not think that this is in the budget. I have ordered 25 per student and we do have some let over so we shall see how it goes. I may have not made myself clear ... it is an 8 week class but we only meet one day a week for about 2 hours . Thank you for your help :-)

I think you'll find that you can get a better price for a quarter or half ton than for 300 lbs., if you can budget for 2-3 classes ahead. 25 lbs is just one bag of clay. The best learning comes from making multiples. Assuming that the students will not be able to make the most efficient use of all of it, you'll need to allow for lots of waste and accidentally dried out bags. Even recycling won't reclaim all of it. Of course, when we have to buy our own clay, we're more careful. Maybe you could supply the first bag and let them pay for seconds?

straitsviewphotos likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jump in and learn as much as you can about the kiln.....look online and ask many questions...see if there is one of your students interested in learning about kiln and apprentice them in the task of getting it up and running.  I taught 7th-12th graders in most of my art classes and they will generally work together well and help each other.  7th graders have a lot of enthusiasm that sometimes rubs off on older kids.  Teach one how to use wheel and have him/her show another one.  Bring in  ceramic artists from your community to do demonstrations you don't feel up to doing yourself.  Look at book "Finding ones way with clay" ??not sure if that is title, but it 's about getting the feel for clay and the properties of what it can and can't do.  I always try to tell students that there is only so much that can be done without working on a wheel-where you can only make round objects-hand-building doesn't have same constraints.  Find pictures from web or magazine or past issues of Ceramics Monthly or Pottery Making Illustrated=post them around room.  Talk to kids about what they want to make or what they think is cool as they look at ceramic work done by others.  Some of the kids will love the feel of 'playing in the mud' and some will not want to get dirty.  It's a messy field out there.  try to get kids to see aesthetics in the works they make and talk about.  When they want to keep work that isn't up to your expectations-push them to do more and tell them the object that they make will be around on this earth longer that they will, maybe just buried in some landfill or in a museum?  Have them take a small golf ball size of clay and flatten it on the floor on a piece of newspaper. peel it up and you might have a wonderful stamp for decorating clay objects.  Teach them how to WEDGE!!!   If you're going to recycle clay, this is really important and everything builds on how well clay is processed.  If you are excited about this learning adventure that you are going on, it will rub off on most of them.  Be ok with telling them you don't have all the answers but will do your best to find them.  Get some picture frames from local thrift shop, take glass and other innards out and use them for slump molds.  (Best ones are thicker depth to allow clay to fall into shape) HAVE FUN!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That makes sense. My classes met 3 times as much. 6 hours/week plus out of class expectations. So 25 pounds should do it.

 

 

I think you may need closer to 75 pounds/ student or more for an 8 week class. You may have to stick with hand building unless you let 3 kids try the wheel while the others handbuild. That gets tricky.

I taught at the college level but one of the more interesting projects was a sculpture 

of a personal experience that they found memorable. Got some really interesting ones.

Save it for later in the course.

 

 

Marcia

75 pounds per student??? oh my I do not think that this is in the budget. I have ordered 25 per student and we do have some let over so we shall see how it goes. I may have not made myself clear ... it is an 8 week class but we only meet one day a week for about 2 hours . Thank you for your help :-)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Remember not to order your clay from standard school suppliers. A Ceramic supplier like Standard Ceramics of other would give you much better deal on price per pound in larger lots. I usually ordered a ton a year for my classes, big price break, but you will find you can get breaks on 500# of clay or even 250. Best of luck, it is overwhelming in the beginning, but worth it. You could also see if you could swing double some years in the future to get better price breaks and then save 1/2 for the next year.

 

best,

Pres

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My advice would be to make some 'damp boxes' to store pieces from one week to the next. Large, lidded plastic box with about a 1" thick layer of plaster in the bottom. Several of these can stack and the work can be stored for weeks without drying out. Saves all that wrapping in polythene and spraying - I only discovered these after I retired from teaching and wished I'd known about them before. I have several in my home studio so I don't have to worry about pieces drying out before I can get back to finishing them. Google 'magic box for clay' and/or Tim See for YouTube video showing how to make.

Red/brown earthenware is a nightmare to clean up and stains everything! I'd stick to clay if I were you.

You definitely need some one session projects so that the students get to see results quickly - certainly in the beginning! It keeps them interested if they get to see a finished pieces quite quickly initially. They'll be happier to take longer over subsequent projects.

 

Try every idea out yourself first - you'll work out the difficulties in advance AND have a finished product as a teaching aid and motivator for the students! Have an 'extension' activity/idea up your sleeve for students who whizz through at a record pace - there's always one!

Don't underestimate the time it takes to clear up - get the students into good habits and be a good timekeeper yourself, otherwise you'll spend more time clearing up than you do teaching!

 

Agree with the 'candling' in the kiln suggested above. The one and only time I had work 'explode' in the kiln was because I'd been in too much of a hurry and a piece wasn't completely dry.

Good luck and enjoy!

Min likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Straightsview photos, how is it going now you are a third of a year in?

 

I also teach grades 7-9 ceramics and have tried many approaches in my years, and i started with little ceramics info only. my heart went out to you immediately reading that start of september post. 

 

Im going to spill all my guts but not all today, I am in the middle of making a workbook to be used by myself and students or anyone else. Im a Canadian Salaried Teacher so wont be selling it, but I can give you bits as i go and when i eventually get it all together then you can just print it off as many times as you need, share it etc...

 

quick questions- How much time do you get with your groups- 8 sessions of one hour or 8 half days or what? how many students? do you need classroom learning community building or are you already strong in that from teaching in some other setting?

 

describe your situation in more detail, budget, curriculum goals etc... and i can be even more helpful. 

 

i just joined this website as a member looking for advice so I stand beside you friend. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/1/2016 at 1:53 PM, keith barber said:

Straightsview photos, how is it going now you are a third of a year in?

 

I also teach grades 7-9 ceramics and have tried many approaches in my years, and i started with little ceramics info only. my heart went out to you immediately reading that start of september post. 

 

Im going to spill all my guts but not all today, I am in the middle of making a workbook to be used by myself and students or anyone else. Im a Canadian Salaried Teacher so wont be selling it, but I can give you bits as i go and when i eventually get it all together then you can just print it off as many times as you need, share it etc...

 

quick questions- How much time do you get with your groups- 8 sessions of one hour or 8 half days or what? how many students? do you need classroom learning community building or are you already strong in that from teaching in some other setting?

 

describe your situation in more detail, budget, curriculum goals etc... and i can be even more helpful. 

 

i just joined this website as a member looking for advice so I stand beside you friend. 

 

 

Well I guess it has been a while since I checked this thread but here goes.... after all this time I am still learning and I have learned that my situation is less than ideal. I have Very little space, a very old kiln , a small budget, very little time with the kids and after 6  two hour sessions (once a week) I get a completely different set of kids, so it is very hard to build on any skills learned. In other words I start from the beginning each time which gets a bit boring for me. I have not attempted any wheel work as I am not confident that I can teach it or that they can learn in . Although I may offer it to four students next class rotation. This year I am going to try pit firing as I think it may be exciting for the kids. Any advice on that?  at the beginning of this year we did whistles and that have been the biggest success by far. The kids loved it. I am frustrated with space for sure. slow but sure finding things working but would love advice as always. Best

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry to hear, that things aren't going as well, as you had hoped.  Perhaps, you can progressively build the program up, and get new materials, equipment, and perhaps a more adequate schedule.

If you want to teach the wheel, practice, practice, practice.  It's the only way to get better.  Watch videos, or preferably, take classes/ workshops.  I tell my students, not to stress about the problems they run into on the wheel.  For one, I can generally fix them.  Second, the reason I can, is because any problem, they've run into, I have run into, many times over.

In regards to pit firing, do a bit of research (Look into burnishing and Terra Sig).  Make sure you bisque fire the wares first.  I realize some cultures did not, and still do not, but it will save you some headaches.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are right in not attempting to teach wheel throwing if not reasonably proficient. As Ben says, practice, lots it, practice normally, blindfolded, while watching television, or talking to other people while you throw. If you are going to demo the wheel you have to be able to do this, one failure, and you've lost them, as their confidence in you is lost. Best certainty is to be able to throw 9 inches out of 3 lb of clay, not once, but consistently. Then do it and shape a pot. Once there, start teaching. 

Whistles are always fun. I used to make plenty of ribs for whistles out of a package of cheap bamboo chopsticks. X-acto knives and rasps will help you make the long and short sticks for the mouth piece and top opening. See if you can find Mud to Music for more help on whistles, flutes and other instruments.

With the pit firing, I would as Ben says bisque first. This will help you to keep from breaking pots when stacking, and remove some of the chance of moisture blowups.

These things will help you build a program, and if you take pictures, do bulletin boards, invite principals and board members to your events, things can get better, leave no stone unturned to teach others the importance of a good art program and a ceramics experience for your students.

Above all, be passionate about the clay, express your enthusiasm for the processes, and have lots of fun!


 

best,

Pres

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×