Last month, I talked about how to put your best foot forward when submitting your teaching credentials to a museum, gallery, or artistic center. In other words, how to get the administrative office to take you seriously and pick up the phone and call you -- instead of tossing your submission into the dreaded File 13.
Let’s say you were paying attention and put some of those ideas into effect. You amped up your credentials, wrote a killer artist’s statement, and rethought those photos. You blessed your revised submission, sent it out into the world and let Karma do its thing. And one day, out of the blue, the phone rings. You actually got a phone call from a curator! She/he has an unexpected opening in the fall schedule and needs to see a course proposal, like NOW. “Do you have something ready? We need to make a decision by Wednesday.”
OK. . . that’s only two days away. That means that no matter what plans you had for today, if you seriously want this opportunity, you clear the deck and write the best darn course proposal anyone has ever written…..in say, 20 minutes…..and don’t forget photos and samples….and get it to the curator pronto, hopefully, IN PERSON….no whining or complaining. Act like Ginger Rodgers. You are dancing as fast as you can……effortlessly, breathlessly, and backward, in high heels! This is the break you’ve been waiting for.
What goes in the proposal:
Title and Description of the Course: Make the course title descriptive and factual. Stick to the facts. Describe class in 150 words or less. Do not use jargon that will be unfamiliar to a novice or beginners.
Day, Time, Length, Etc.: Initially, you may be filling a slot created by a last minute emergency. But if you prove yourself worthy, you may become a permanent feature. While the teaching facility may be fitting you into an existing slot, it never hurts to ask for what you want. The museum where I teach, for instance, allows a 10-week term or two 5-week terms. I’ve learned that I get a different mix of students if I open it to both 10-week and 5-week students. It’s a three hour class and I’ve tried altering the days and times each term to see if it makes a difference in enrollment. It does.
Minimum/Maximum Class Size: What is your target audience? What is the demographic of your typical student? How can you help with recruitment? Do you have a “following?”
Facilities Requirements: What is the requirement for the size of the classroom? At the very least you need electricity, water, comfortable seating and adequate table space. What else?
Equipment: Does the facility have a kiln and tumbler? If not, are you willing to provide use of your own? Will you charge a fee for wear and tear to your own equipment?
Safety Issues: List and discuss any safety or allergy issues that may be inherent in this course, such as, the kiln, sharp tools, chemicals, fumes, etc.
Use of Teacher’s Tools and Consumables: Establish a per-student lab fee to cover damage, loss, and replacement of your personal specialty tools, pickle, burnishing compound, antiquing solutions, tumbler use, stainless steel shot, etc.
Detailed Tool List: Students should be expected to provide their own PMC tools. You should provide a detailed checklist of all essential and non-essential tools, textures, non-stick work surface, Badger Balm, etc., that students should bring with them to the first class session. If, however, you are putting together kits, make sure to itemize exactly what is in the kit and the exact cost of what the student will receive.
PMC, Wire, Gemstones, Etc: Do you have adequate financial resources to stock enough silver and other costly supplies to accommodate 8 to 12 students for a 5 to 10 week term? Will you accept credit cards? Can you set up adequate security measures for yourself in the classroom? If you will bring supplies for students to purchase, don’t run out of supplies! It’s very important that students be able to depend on you for the items they require.
Specific Goals and Objectives of the Class: Outline the specific goals of the class. What should the students hope to accomplish and realistically set as their take-away at the outcome of their classroom experience?
Writing a proposal is a lot of work. But it is definitely worth the effort. You will want to refine and perfect this document every term as you figure out what works and what doesn’t. Think of it as a way to promote and protect yourself professionally.
Director of Education