Monday, August 8, 2011

Teaching From Home: Weighing The Options

by Linda Kline

Director of Education

There’s no place like home.”
- Dorothy, from the “Wizard of Oz”

Dorothy said a mouthful with these few words. Perhaps your dream job is to be a teacher of jewelry arts and to travel to different locations to offer classes. It sounds great, doesn’t It, going to new locations; checking out different studios and arts centers; meeting new and interesting people; and teaching a diverse audience a myriad collection of topics and techniques? And, yes, it is fun! But it also comes with a big reality check after you’ve done it a time or two.

You discover soon enough that it sounds more glamorous that it actually is to schlep your bag of teaching tricks all over the countryside. Its heavy work and it requires lots and lots of sorting, shipping, ordering, coordinating, and planning, planning, and planning.

Last month I talked about some of the various options available to teachers in their own community. One that I didn’t explore is the simplest and most affordable – Home Sweet Home.
It’s easy to host classes in the comfort and convenience of your own home. There are, however, lots of factors that need to be considered before you give it a go.

First and foremost, is your home adequate for classes? Do you have ample seating space and appropriate lighting? How many students can you reasonably accommodate? Do have an official “business,” meaning, do you have the appropriate license to operate a business from your home? Is your home zoned to allow the operation of a business? Do you have insurance?

These are all very touchy subjects, and some of these are concerns you may never have considered. Insurance, for instance, is a very serious issue. Will your students be covered under your existing homeowner’s policy in the event of an accident, fire, or injury? Or maybe you’ll need an optional business policy. These types of policies can be very pricey and come with lots of different types of exclusions.

How will you find students? If you teach in a studio or arts center, they generally advertise and help you promote your classes. If you teach from home, however, you won’t have that luxury. You’ll need to do the marketing yourself.

Do you rent your home? You’ll want to be sure to check with your landlord to be sure he or she has no objections. Do you live in an apartment, condo, or neighborhood with a homeowner’s association? These types of residential communities often have very strict policies. Make sure you know the rules before you feel the wrath of the condo commandos or angry neighbors.
Weather you rent or own, parking can be a real issue. Some neighbors just don’t appreciate excessive traffic in the neighborhood. As a courtesy, always let your neighbors know if you plan to have a group function. Most people are fine as long as you keep them in the loop and let them know it’s not a “regular” event. Who knows, they may even want to sign up for your class. ;-)

Thinking through these issues before you offer your first class can make all of the difference in your experience and your ultimate success. I regularly teach from my home and I’ve been very fortunate that I have very supportive neighbors and very flexible of students. I think most students enjoy the luxury of being in my home. They appreciate the benefit of coming to a comfy, homey environment, and I appreciate the benefit of not having to load all my teaching “crap” into the car, set it up, tear it down, and drag it back home again. I’ve built a dedicated group of students who have been with me for many years. We’ve grown into a really close and connected group, but there’s always room for one more.

Teaching from home isn’t for everyone, but it has some lovely advantages.
Creative blessings,

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