You don’t need to be an expert to teach—learning from each other can be part of the fun! Just make sure that you clearly state your level of experience and the class level you’re offering to teach (beginner, intermediate, expert) when you post the listing.
Folkskills classes thrive when expectations are clear from the start.
Setting the cost
As the instructor, it is up to you to set the cost of your class. A teacher’s level of experience should be reflected in the cost of the class. Experienced instructors should charge more than those who are less experienced in their craft.
When setting the cost, think about the potential demand of your class. If it’s a popular topic that will attract many people in your area, set the price higher. If the topic has less of a following and will likely only attract a handful of people, set the price lower.
If the class requires expensive materials, students can often justify spending more money on a class.
The ideal Folkskills class combines lecture-style teaching, an open environment for students to ask questions, and as much hands-on learning as possible.
Hosting a bread-baking class? Let students get their hands doughy! People learn best by doing.
Optimize your students’ time by being fully prepared to teach an engaging class. Ask yourself: what are the most important things that I want my students to take away from this class?
Create an outline to ensure that your class flows smoothly. Try to structure your content around an introduction to the activity, teacher demonstration, hands-on learning, and a wrap-up summary. Remember that you’re the expert, and people are looking for you to share your unique insights about the subject matter. Avoid spending too much of your time lecturing; instead, involve your students and create a dialogue as much as possible.
Sometimes supplemental materials can help facilitate the experience. Handouts, pictures, samples, and examples of the finished product, are all great ways to make abstract concepts become more concrete. Be as creative as you want!
Practice makes perfect—and soothes the jitters. Run your presentation past someone you trust to give you honest feedback. Ask them if the pacing of the class seems reasonable, what could be better, and whether or not they would be interested in the content.
On the day of your class, arrive at the venue at least 10 minutes early to set up your materials and make any last-minute preparations.
Make something tangible
Students are more likely to sign up for and enjoy classes in which they get to practice their new skills and take home something to show for it.
For some kinds of classes this is easy, such as sending students home with a sourdough culture or the hats they knit, but less project-based topics like music and gardening benefit from a take-home as well. Think about preparing sheet music of the banjo tunes you played in class or some seed-starting kits for students to take home and plant.
Take-homes help maintain excitement, encourage practice, and create buzz for your next class!
Folkskills classes should aim to inspire and empower students through learning new skills that draw from the wisdom of the past, cultural lineage, or regional character. They can be practical and relevant to contemporary life, or their value might simply be in the joy that they bring.
Let your passion for the subject matter shine!