Tomorrow I’m flying upto Columbus OH to teach a 5 day workshop. It’s .5 hour to drive to the shuttle, 2 hours on the shuttle, 2 hours in the airport with luck, 1.5 hours on the plane and probably 1 hour to exit the plane and get the shuttle to the hotel totaling 7 hours – I suppose it could be worse! If I drove it would be a little over 10 hours, says Mr. Google map – but then I bet he hasn’t been stuck in the endless traffic jams of Knoxville…still that’s not that much longer.
How to get there (and whether or not it’s worth it) is one of the many decisions the workshop teacher has to make when accepting engagements. The second big question is how much to charge (if you have an option, many places don’t allow any negotiation). Third: how long the workshop should be, and, fourth, how many people you should allow them to put in the class.
When thinking about a fee, I always add in the workshop prep time, the travel time and the actual workshop days. Even if the distance isn’t that far, you basically lose a day travelling each way – sometimes 2 days if you drive. Most workshops require several days thinking, planning , writing, making sketches or samples, packing and that needs to be part of the equation. I try not to do one day workshops because the travel and workshop prep time is about the same for one day as for five – which reduces my actual “day’s pay” considerably.
It’s important that if the fee is low, that there are other factors that balance against that such as the reputation of the place, the history or the location. I like to visit new places, I love to be in beautiful scenery and an art center with excellent facilities gives me opportunities I might not otherwise have. If the venue is somewhere I’ve never been before, an offer to take me out for a day to see the local sights is a great plus on the profit side!
I’m very against the overly large classes that some of the for-profit organizations encourage. I think it does everyone a disfavor – it is difficult and frustrating for the teacher to get to know the individual people well and to understand what will help them the most. One place I’m teaching this summer has a limit of 12 people, another has no limit and the class is already brimming over with folk. Teacher to student ratio does count for a lot in learning, we know that. And if you are one of 25 paying the same as if you are one of 12…I know which I’d choose!!
I really enjoy a mix of people in the class. Varying skill levels in the class add to the energy and excitement. It’s both wonderful to help someone’s first few steps and to find something new and interesting for an “old hand”. And it’s lovely if there’s a huge range of ages. Only once did I have a range of sexes, though! And sadly, he was a bit of a dud – which was a pity with all those lovely ladies to help him!!
I like to prepare for a class by coming up with some new ideas each time, even if I’m teaching the same overall topic. It’s just too boring otherwise!! One of the main things I teach is composition and design – there are so many different ways to come up with designs that I would be limiting everyone (especially me!) if I just stuck to 3 or 4 ideas. I just don’t know how other teachers do that!! I love devising different possibilities: some I’ll have tried myself, some I’ll have snitched from the fine art world, some just appear as I work through the variables. My aim is that at the end of the class everyone’s piece is different reflecting their own personal aesthetic and choices throughout the design process. I’ll be sure to capture the work next week and post the photographs the week after!
If you have been, thanks for reading! And if you teach yourself or want to comment on the above issues, I’d love to hear from you. Elizabeth
Okay, yes, that’s me at the top – about a hundred years ago…sewing..of course!!!