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#21 Pugaboo

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 09:40 AM

A little background.... I am a fairly new, 1 year doing clay with 12 weeks of concentrated pottery classes under my belt, potter. I have never done wheel but am taking a class now to learn. That said I have been working with, slab, coil, and pinch techniques. I keep my forms simple and then I decorate the surface, my background is as a painter. I have been painting and doing photography for over 20 years and have been making my living with those for most of that time.

What I do with the surface of my pieces nobody else in the area does. I have been asked to teach a class. At first I was no way I haven't been doing it long enough. Then over the months as other potters came to me and asked me how I did this or that technique and if I would help show them where they are going wrong with decorating one of their pieces. I came to realize I am NOT capable of teaching a pottery class that covers all the basics but I AM capable of teaching a surface design class. Once I realized that I agreed to do a class if it could be on surface design and that the criteria for class would be that the students were familiar with clay already. I can help with creating pieces I just don't feel like an expert in that area. I am not an expert in any way and those taking the class will know my credentials, or lack there of, and decide if they feel I know enough to help them on their artistic journey. I am very enthusiastic about what I do and get a kick out of helping someone and seeing the light bulb going on when they "get it".

I get asked all the time about how to do something and have to think hmm I've never done this before but if I were going to to this I would do it this way or that way. I always try to give at least 2 different ways to achieve an certain affect and explain to the questioner that I have not done this particular thing before but they could try this or that. Sometimes it's just a matter of getting them thinking outside the pottery box. When they start looking at the problem from a different angle that's all they really need to realize ohhhh I can do it like this and get the look I want! It's very satisfying to see them achieve their goals and the pride they have in their finished piece.

The teacher I studied with was a retired school teacher and he was very enthusiastic. I learned a lot from him not only in making pottery but just watching him interact with the other students. He would demonstrate then give us a chance to try it, he would keep an eye on us and gently step in and make suggestions when he would see us struggle. He never said this is how you have to do it, he always asked what are you trying to do here and then suggest a couple ways to get over the hurdle. He was really good about answering all our questions and with me he quickly realized I was there to LEARN. I wanted to know everything about what I was doing and he suggested books to further my knowledge when I asked questions that he did not know the answer to. I was that annoying student that asked WHY a lot, why do you wedge, Why do you tap the mold on the table, why do you scrape the sides of the bucket, why why why. He was great with all that and finally towards the end of my last class handed me one of his college text books to read. THAT was eye opening I spent more time looking up words and terms than reading! But I got a lot of my detailed questions answered and I learned tons. Some of the others were there just to play with clay and he interacted with them totally different than he did with me, that taught me a lot. listen to the student and then give them each what they need. I wanted to know details another student just wanted to make a cool tray for a gift and he gave us both what we needed.

If you have passion for what you do and are honest with your students and give them each what they need by not treating them all the same I think THAT makes a great teacher.

I always say this forum is my second teacher. There is so much knowledge here with all the varied members just waiting to accessed with the right question and that I think is the most invaluable resource in the world.

Sorry it got so long I am just completely obsessed with clay!

Terry
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#22 JBaymore

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 10:02 AM

Terry....... good point you hit in there:  When you are teaching a "class" ... you are really teaching X individual lessons.  While there may be some overarching goals and objectives fopr the overall class outcomes...... how you get to those will vary with each person's background, experience, and dominant learning style. 

 

As another note about teaching....... there is a strong tendency for a person to teach to the modality in which they learn best.  A teacher has to actively work at moving his/her own teaching style out of this "comfort zone" to help reach the folks in the class that do not match up with that.

 

best,

 

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#23 Timseeclay

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 10:47 AM

I suppose this thread diminishes the training a teacher gets during their education. A potter knows how to throw, trim glaze and the rest. Being able to teach it is more than just saying what you are doing in front a group of people. Unfortunately for many early potters this is what they end up getting. A great potter will not always make a great teacher. A great teacher may not be a great potter. We cannot judge your ability to teach by photos of your work. What we should be asking is...   Can you teach? Can you lead?  Here is a great exercise, video yourself giving the lesson you imagine giving day one. Now turn the wheel in the other direction and follow your lesson. Evaluate how you did? Did you say everything you needed to? Did you say so much that you couldn't keep all of the info accessible. I wish you luck but just like throwing takes research and practice so does teaching.



#24 Chilly

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 11:58 AM

I suppose this thread diminishes the training a teacher gets during their education. A potter knows how to throw, trim glaze and the rest. Being able to teach it is more than just saying what you are doing in front a group of people. Unfortunately for many early potters this is what they end up getting. A great potter will not always make a great teacher. A great teacher may not be a great potter. We cannot judge your ability to teach by photos of your work. What we should be asking is...   Can you teach? Can you lead?  Here is a great exercise, video yourself giving the lesson you imagine giving day one. Now turn the wheel in the other direction and follow your lesson. Evaluate how you did? Did you say everything you needed to? Did you say so much that you couldn't keep all of the info accessible. I wish you luck but just like throwing takes research and practice so does teaching.

Tim, I've watched lots of your? videos on YouTube, and one of the things I noticed most is your consistency in the words you use.  In every video you use the same expressions, which for me has helped greatly.  After a wet rainy weekend of watching basic centering I finally managed to achieve it next class. 

 

Something I was taught long ago: when someone says "pardon?" think about whether they mean "sorry, I didn't HEAR all of that, could you say it again", or did they mean "sorry, I didn't UNDERSTAND all of that, could you describe it differently".  Most often I beleive "the teacher" should be hearing the first question, but their brain says "uhumm, I didn't explain that very well, have to try it a different way".  For me option 2 will leave me completely confused, as if I only missed hearing a couple of words I've now got to process a something different.  (And I'll probably not hear all of that too, leaving me worse off.)

 

Another tip if someone asks a question, is to repeat the question back to them.  This lets them know you heard the right question, and gives you time to think about the answer, without rushing in with the wrong inappropriate answer. 

 

Teaching gives me more joy than doing.  Nothing beats the smile on a newbies face when they've accomplished something with my guidance.  I wish all new/prospective pottery teachers the same joy.


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#25 JBaymore

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 01:21 PM

One standard teaching tool anyone who has some training in educational methodology knows is to "check for understanding" regularly. Meaning that you have to constantly work to assess if what you are trying to communicate is actually being absorbed and being absorbed in the manner you intended. Having the students 'echo back' in some manner (verbally, visually, etc.) what you were trying to get them to grasp........ is one way. If it is verbal, ask them to put things in their own words, not simply parrot yours.

 

Tim hits the nail on the head about how being a great artist does not necessarily make a great teacher.

 

One of the potential issues in higher ed is that schools typically require an MFA to teach in a given art related subject Iterminal degree in the arts). But they do not typically require specific TEACHER training of any kind. So somtimes you get great artsits... that do not have great teaching skills. Unfortunately they "learn on the job". Or not, in some cases.

 

Same goes for people that teach in craft centers, are masters that take on apprentices, and that present workshops.

 

best,

 

...........................john


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#26 ChenowethArts

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 06:54 AM

I do wish that an MFA or a MA/M.Ed guaranteed a consistent level of artistic talent and/or teaching skill (or both)...I suspect that we all know of examples terrific artists who are poor teachers, and perhaps some lesser skilled artists who are terrific teachers.  It is definitely a bonus when you discover those individuals who are skilled, passionate, and life-long-learners in their area of artistic expertise as well as their instructional development.

 

Higher education institutions face the challenges of accreditation bodies when it comes to hiring faculty. A Master of Fine Arts degree  is pretty much a standard requirement for a teaching position at any accredited, four-year, higher-ed institution. It is possible to hire an art faculty member who does not hold a terminal degree, but those hires are truly exceptional, generally meaning that the hire is justified by other credentials (i.e. professional experience, publishing, and awards).

 

Just recently, I have observed a new MFA hire who meets weekly with a more experienced, faculty mentor. Interesting enough, the collegial relationship that has developed has likely enhanced the quality of teaching for the rookie and the mentor.


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#27 Babs

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 05:05 PM

Don't think it wa stated that an MFA guarantees a great artist but it certainly does not guarantee a great teache as stated above. Another way of selecting because selecting for teaching is difficult.

In an ideal world the student would seek the teacher that suits them. And if that teacher accepts them off they go off on a journey.

Chilli I agree that using the same words to  establish a skill is a good device, becomes a mantra so that the brain stops cogitating at a surperficial level and just does it, then the brain lets go and the body just does it, while the potter watches. THen the kiln decides!



#28 Chilly

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 12:34 PM

...........a mantra so that the brain stops cogitating at a surperficial level and just does it, then the brain lets go and the body just does it, while the potter watches. THen the kiln decides!

Oh yes.  I love that description.  Have you been looking inside MY brain or is everyone's the same?


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#29 Babs

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 04:52 PM

 

...........a mantra so that the brain stops cogitating at a surperficial level and just does it, then the brain lets go and the body just does it, while the potter watches. THen the kiln decides!

Oh yes.  I love that description.  Have you been looking inside MY brain or is everyone's the same?

 

Nah! Just us!!



#30 Bob Coyle

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 08:32 PM

I kind of had a "bad hair day" today with my ceramics class of senior citizens. I have taught this class twice a year for six years now and the sad thing is that most of the people I have taught, do not have an interest in learning ceramics. They want to roll out a slab, turn up the edges and call it a platter.. and that is as far as it goes. I seem to have to push them even to make a box. So after three weeks of "platters, I blew it and told everyone "NO MORE FLATWARE!"

 

I know that some of these people never did any art before and that the class is just for entertainment, and to kill time while waiting for God, but I have people who have repeated this class three or four times, and are still making platter to give to their friends!

 

I don't want to try an force them to do something that they don't want to do but on the other hand, it seems if you are taking a "class" you are supposed to maybe progress a little???

 

So what do ya think... just let them be or push them a little?



#31 bciskepottery

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 08:57 PM

Given the group involved (seniors), if they want to make platters, then let them make platters. That does not mean you have to make platters, and if you make something different, then it may catch their interest. Maybe not the whole group, but one or two or three may want to try something else. Or, challenge them to make increasingly more complex platters . . . either by adding handles, feet, etc., or carving, scraffito, or underglaze decoration. Their reasons for taking your class are so much different than the reasons of students taking the same class at a studio. Your expectations are more likely going to have to move closer to their expectations, than vice versa. But you can challenge them subtly, but I don't think its a group to push.

#32 Benzine

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 09:30 PM

I agree with bciskepottery.

 

If some of them are set in what they want to do, let them be.  I would never do this, with my students, but there is a lot more I can do to push my students.  If I don't like the direction they are going with their project, I can require them to add more.  If I don't like it, it doesn't get fired, it doesn't get graded.  There are very few students out there, who want to fail a class, especially an Art class.

 

At the same time though, if you show them, there are ways you can "fancy up" the basic platter, you  might have some great results.

 
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#33 Bob Coyle

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 11:00 PM

 

At the same time though, if you show them, there are ways you can "fancy up" the basic platter, you  might have some great results.

This is what I do and have done.. it doesn't seem to take. Most of these people are very unwilling to try new things unless I require it.

 

So it is kind of a pull between "I know you can do better" and " what the heck... they are just killing time...don't sweat it."

 

So far I have two votes for "don't sweat it".



#34 Benzine

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 11:31 PM

The one thing, that a teacher at any level should learn, is to never let the students bring them down.  Whether it be it their words, actions or attitudes, if you are doing everything you can to support them and their learning, and you are still getting nowhere, then it's on them.  It's almost never anything personal, so don't take it as such. 


"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#35 ChenowethArts

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 07:49 AM

This is what I do and have done.. it doesn't seem to take. Most of these people are very unwilling to try new things unless I require it.

 

So it is kind of a pull between "I know you can do better" and " what the heck... they are just killing time...don't sweat it."

 

So far I have two votes for "don't sweat it".

 

 

I sense your frustration and disappointment, Bob.  I'd bet that anyone who has taught a high scholl/college art class can quickly identify students who are just there 'to get a grade' and those who are 'engaged and into it'.    For us seniors (and yes, that would include me), having an activity that makes us feel that we can still do something productive (though marginally creative), may be enough.  Social engagement among the class members may be more important than the actual activity...and clay is a wonderful, social media.  Your encouragement for people to do more, try something different, etc. may be a tough sell to a group that may be terribly uncomfortable getting out of their comfort zone...but it IS the right thing to do, but gently.  I view your efforts to increase the creativity level as 'planting seeds'.  You may not see results of that encouragement immediately (or never), but those seniors who keep coming back ARE benefiting from your interactions and the fact that you are willing to push  will bear fruit, even if it is a small harvest.

 

IMHO,

Paul


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#36 Pres

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 09:17 AM

I do wish that an MFA or a MA/M.Ed guaranteed a consistent level of artistic talent and/or teaching skill (or both)...I suspect that we all know of examples terrific artists who are poor teachers, and perhaps some lesser skilled artists who are terrific teachers. . . . .

For many years I have been complaining that Art Ed degrees have been degrading in some ways. When I came up through, there were requirements of core studios, and elective fine arts, and elective crafts. We did not have to take Ceramics, or Jewelry, or Sculpture, or Weaving, or Watercolor 2, but we had to fill so many studio requirements that we ended up taking many of these if not all. The requirements for Art Ed today have been hit with new media (computer), more pedagogy and more in the way of methods classes where the studio time is greatly diminished. So often students going into teach in schools are lacking in Ceramics, or other areas-a shame.


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#37 Bob Coyle

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 10:28 AM

Like I said in my original post... I was just having a "bad hair day". Having this group to vent to is great, because most of you have been in similar situations. I will continue to nudge the geezers, especially the ones who have been repeating the class, but I'll let them make their darn platters if that is what they really want to do.

 

 

Thanks all!



#38 JBaymore

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 10:35 AM

 I'd bet that anyone who has taught a high scholl/college art class can quickly identify students who are just there 'to get a grade' and those who are 'engaged and into it'.   

 

No... that NEVER happens!  :rolleyes:  ;)

 

best,

 

....................john


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#39 Pres

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 11:09 AM

You mean some of my kids were just there because guidance put them there? I can't believe that! ;)


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#40 ChenowethArts

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 12:36 PM

You mean some of my kids were just there because guidance put them there? I can't believe that! ;)

 

Shocking, isn't it! :wacko:


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