February 2, 2019

3 Steps to Choosing a Skill to Share

You may know immediately what you want to share, but narrowing down all the things you can do with a skill so sharing it will fit in a lesson or group of lessons can be a challenge if you’ve never done it before. Here are three quick tips to get you started.

1. Decide Who You Want to Teach

Its important to have an idea about who your students will be. It’s much more challenging to create a class that encompasses all skill levels than it is to gear your class toward one level of students.  

So as you narrow the aspects of the skill you want to share, think of who you will be teaching. Would you prefer teaching beginners who are completely new to the skill? If so, are you able to share your skill in a very basic way? Beginners will need more of an introductory to the skill, and each aspect may take a bit more time. Planning will have to be more detailed for those newer to the skill.

Perhaps you want to teach intermediate students who have heard of the skill, maybe have more informal experiences with it, and who already feel pretty confident that they enjoy the skill and have the capability to learn more. If you prefer teaching students who are a bit more relaxed and confident in their abilities regarding the skill, these students may be the perfect fit for you. They are usually able to do a bit more independently, so when planning for them you know you won’t have to stop and demostrate or explain basic techniques as much as you would with beginning students.

Maybe advanced students would be the right group for you. They know their way around the skill, but want help fine-tuning their skills. They have a lot to bring to the table and can be great to have conversations with. They may be able to contribute more to the class community because they have had more time and experience with the skill. Sometimes they may share things you don’t even know yet, which is always exciting!

With advanced learners, you become less of an instructor and more of an observer, coach, and facilitator. With beginners, you’ll be doing a lot of the work as the student observes. As students advance, you are able to step back. You will still be needed to assist them but many times you are there to see how they can improve on something they already do fairly well.

2. Be Able to Narrate Your Process

You must be able to walk your students through the process in detail and offer correction and feedback to help them do well, especially if they are making a product.

I’ve met many professionals who are very knowledgeable in their subject matter but can’t explain what they know well enough for their students to learn. Whatever skill you are planning to teach, it’s a good idea to go through the process, making a sample piece to show your students, and think through how you would explain what you are doing at each step to someone who has no experience in what you are teaching.

Some skills are easy to perfect after years of training and practice but not easy to explain to someone new to the skill. If you’ve never explained the step-by-step process to someone, don’t wait until you are standing in front of a group of eager students to figure out if it’s something you are able to outline and guide others through.

After you’ve thought through the narrative of what you are doing at each step of the way and how to explain the process so your students can duplicate it, decide if your skill is something easily expressed or if you need further time to think about it or study ways to articulate what you are doing in terms appropriate to the skill level of your students.

3. Choose a Skill or Topic That Can Be Mastered Within a Set Timeline

We’ll discuss how to set times for your class in a different blog post, but when you are choosing a skill to share, you should be sure what you plan to teach is broad enough to hold your students’ interest, yet narrow enough to be able to provide them with a finished product.

For example, you can’t teach the history and cultural significance of Spanish Art from the 1800s to present-day in four 45-minute sessions. You can, however, study a few pieces of Spanish Art from that time period, though, and make a small, simplified portrait in the style of Salvidor Dali (don’t forget the mustache) or something similar.

When teaching a broad subject, create stopping points or goals to achieve. If you are hoping to teach about programming, decide how your students will know they’ve become proficient. Set measurable achievements for the entirety of the topic or skill, then set smaller goals for each individual class.

Remember, you can also create a series of classes and stagger the ability level or the depth of the learning depending on the needs of each student. More on that soon!

So what skill will you share with your community? Start sharing and learning today at Clascity.com!