Top Tips for Teaching Woodworking – Get away from your bench/desk (7 of 12)

Be it a visit to your garage shop, a middle school shop class, a woodworking store, or a paid for class you have got to offer one-on-one education to any student in front of you.

Most woodworking classes are going to involve hands on time. Personal opinion is this should be the majority of time spent in a classroom setting. The half hour block where 5-10 minutes spent explaining and demoing followed by 20-25 of activity has always worked well as it paces students so they don’t get physically drained or loopy stupid.

You as a teacher need to be fast enough, organized enough, or have the modules prepared enough so that you can get away from your workbench and out among the masses during the work time. You will find that this is the time where most of your actual teaching occurs as the lecture/demo is just the regurgitation of information/skill to the wall. I like to think of this activity time as Drive-by teaching opportunities “like a gangsta”.

This is all about speed teaching. Answering specific questions, expanding on a subject, discovering what info you didn’t communicate well, judging understanding, and moving on. The one on one is also where you get to drill down with each student so you’ll know how to tailor future lessons. You’ll also find that it’s this time that develops the respect between student and teacher as it shows your personal interest to and understanding of the student.

In the beginning think of yourself as a sniper with a machine gun. Rapid fire targeted teaching. You’ll feel like these beginning sessions are mass chaos running around with your hair on fire as you’re doing a lot of work. Time will fly and you’ll feel like you’re behind schedule. It’s all about speed in the beginning. If you follow the techniques mentioned elsewhere towards the end of the class/course/semester you’ll be bored out of your mind standing on the outside waiting for a teachable target to pop up their head. Later on you’ll be able to spend much more time delving much deeper into solutions with the students. It’s just how things work out if you develop a real educational environment.

This technique isn’t too applicable in a symposium or club meeting setting but you can utilize some aspects by getting a variety of volunteers to come up and try/do the demonstrating during your lecture.

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2 Responses to Top Tips for Teaching Woodworking – Get away from your bench/desk (7 of 12)

  1. Joe says:

    I teach college chemistry. It is similar in that most of my real teaching occurs when the students are working on problems and I am walking around checking on them. They are more likely to ask specific questions that just don’t seem to get asked during the part where I lecture. It happened for too many years in a row for it be unique to one class. I’m not surprised it is the same in woodworking.