Monday, June 16, 2014

Teaching Notes

This past weekend my peer held a small workshop day at her home so I could practice teaching a few friends about making glass beads.  Below are some thoughts from the day about what I learned about teaching, or what worked well.

  • I used a teaching technique I learned last Pennsic to good effect to help someone get better at pulling stringers. The idea is to teach a student to pull stringer by having them apply heat to the middle of a full glass rod. Have the student push in slightly on both ends to form a small glass ball, and then have them remove the stringer from the heat, count to three and pull. This method works better than the commonly taught method of using pliers in one hand. It can be hard to get a grip on the glass with pliers, adding an unnecessary complication to learning a new task. I also think that having the same thing (a glass rod) in both hands feels more even, and thus and helps people to pull more evenly and comfortably.
  • When trying to apply stringer students tend to, without instruction, stick the stringer directly in the heat (likely b/c that is what they do with the glass rod). As a result its imp. to demonstrate how just the side of the flame can melt the stringer enough to apply w/o it getting too molten. Also, stringer from transparent glass may be easier for people to learn with, because it is firmer than opaque glass.
  • When teaching people, I also try to have them hold the glass in there hand like a pencil, and to turn the glass perpendicular to the torch once it is heated and apply the glass that way. I learned this from a mundane glass book. One of the people I was teaching made an interesting comment about this method, when I asked her how this change felt. She said that it felt more like she was applying the glass, and less like the glass was applying itself to the rod!
  • Also, another interesting lesson learned. When working with someone who is ambidextrous, have them hold the glass I the hand they write with. Because of the pencil like grip  I have students use, this position felt less natural to the person learning when they used the hand they did not write will. This actually made it much harder for her. Once we switched hands, things worked much better.
  • Good materials are so very important to the enjoyment of glass bead making. Bad bead release, or glass rods that shatter a lot (Devardi Glass!) can be a problem. We had both of these issues this past weekend. When teaching, I should continue to look for these problems and if needed substitute my materials for the materials the students are using (if they have their own kit) so that learning can occur in the best possible way.