Creating a Teaching Piece: All that goes on behind the scenes. Part 2 – Materials Preparation

by Lois Kershner, NAN Director of Teachers’ Certification

This article first appeared in NANthology, the NAN newsletter, in fall 2021.

Part I described the planning activities that go into turning an idea into a design developed as a teaching piece. Yet to be done are writing the instructions and developing a Lesson Plan outlining the sequence and timing for all the steps to be taken in class. Finally, materials need to be ordered, prepared, and kits assembled for distribution.

Instructions – Never Miss a Teaching Opportunity

The written instructions detail the steps to be taken – the ‘what’ of a stitch or technique; charts, photos, figures, show the ‘how’. However, a teaching piece adds the ‘why’ behind an instruction along with tips. Written instructions need to provide enough detail for a student to be able to learn and demonstrate that they have learned what is being taught.

Students learn in different ways — some will learn by reading, some by seeing, others by hearing or a combination of these three. So, instructions need to be presented in multiple ways. Because students can be self-selecting, taking a class because they like the project without taking into consideration proficiency level, having copies of basic instructions to share can help the students who might be struggling.

For ease of seeing and personal safety, live or video demonstrations can be projected using a display device to a screen. Video demonstration links can be given to students to access either in class or at home on their own smart device. It cannot be overlooked that teachers have a financial commitment as well as a learning curve to use technology effectively for demonstrations and the critique of student work.

If a class is offered virtually, instructions may be offered in a series of ‘Lessons’ scheduled over a period of time, each needing an introduction. Any supplementary information that a teacher may wish to provide verbally in class needs to be provided in written form as part of each Lesson.

Lesson Plans

A Lesson Plan is a guide for the teacher to use during class. It lists the sequence, timing, and duration for each of the course components, the associated visual aids, and any supplementary information that might not be included in written instructions.

A teaching day of 6 hours, broken into morning and afternoon segments of 180 minutes suggests a maximum number of or stitches/techniques that can be taught including a description, demonstration, threading up (at least 5 minutes), and time for stitching during which the teacher checks the student’s progress. There is nothing more disheartening for a teacher to go too fast or for a student than to get lost, make a mistake and then not be able to catch up. When to teach a stitch or technique can depend on whether it is easy or complex in relation to when students are most alert (morning of the second day after a warmup stitch) or most fatigued (after lunch and at the end of the day).

Even with the very best planning, the Lesson Plan and Instructions should be tested in a Pilot Class, not just for clarity and completeness, but also for the timing and sequence in which the different areas of a piece are introduced. Sometimes instructions will need to be reordered, even rewritten.

Ordering and Preparing Materials, and Assembling Kits

While instructions could be posted online in PDF format, typically they need to be printed as well as labels if kits are to be shipped. Fabric, threads, accessories, and packaging materials are ordered and received. The ground fabric is prepared, for example applying designs to the ground fabric or overcasting edges. Threads need to be sorted, and possibly measured, cut, and labeled. All the kit materials are then assembled and placed into individual kit packages.

At last, the time for teaching is reached. All that is needed for class is gathered – teacher handbook, extra kit materials and stitching supplies, computer, projector, document display device, iPhone/iPad, alas, even materials to put up a portable screen. Students get their kit — It is time for the teacher to put into practice all the techniques and tips for effective teaching and for students to have an enjoyable and successful learning experience