Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What is Teaching?

We're now almost a month past the end of the spring college semester.  As of now, I am pencilled in by my university to teach again in the fall, but that is still months away.  When college classes end, the college checks stop coming, too.  No surprise there.  But it's why I spend part of every summer looking for some kind of summer work.  The past 3 summers I had various summer jobs, each of which I kept going well into the fall, ending them when they started taking time away from my college work, which is pretty much what paid my bills.  Summer jobs typically pay around minimum wage, which isn't even close to what one needs to live on.  I took advantage of having no other commitments to pick up extra shifts, sometimes getting close to 40 hours/week, what one might call full time if employers ever hired full time employees, but even those long weeks I couldn't earn enough to pay rent, much less my other fixed expenses, so that kind of work is a dead end.  Which doesn't mean I haven't submitted some applications and won't do more of them.

But so far this summer I have been concentrating on teaching art.  First of all, it is something that I'm actually good at.  Been doing it for decades, and have done it in lots of places.  Second, it's just part time, but it pays far better than most part time jobs. But you don't get paid for all of it.  One has to spend a lot of time on things related to the job that have nothing to do with teaching art.  Right now I have three part time relief printing teaching situations progressing forwards.  The longest established is the BelmarArts woodcut class, which I have taught many times, including a series that I just finished recently.  The next one starts up again in about a month, pending people actually signing up for the class.  It's been on the web for at least a few weeks, and an e-mail blast to members went out a few days ago, but even before that I was sending e-mails to individuals who had taken the class before, or who had expressed an interest but couldn't sign up in the past, just letting them know it was out there if they were interested in another go, or knew someone who admired what they did and might want to try it themselves.  Don't know if anything will come from these recent contacts, but getting the word out is part of the job.

Meanwhile two other jobs seem to be directly related to the existence of the first one, as it seems to be how they found me.  I am scheduled to teach a one day workshop in linoleum printing for high school age students at a library in Ocean County in August.  (I figure lino is a lot safer than wood for inexperienced students)  The initial plan was set up a few weeks ago, but getting it official has been delayed by paperwork.  I stand to make more for one afternoon than I would in a whole week at a typical summer job, but only if I can get my vendor license straightened out so I can be paid.  It's a online process, but does require being given a special password from a county employee, and that employee had been out sick the first few days this week.  Hours spent on the computer and on the phone that accomplished nothing.  But the missing person was back today, so that class is on as of now.   The other class is close to home, in Belmar, just a few blocks from the place I have taught before.  Again, linoleum and a one day class, but this time adults, and if it works, there will be more of these scheduled, or my expertise may be turned to other types of art.  This place just opened a week ago and things are being figured out, so I decided it would be good to go there before the class and show exactly what we can do.  Lauren, the owner/operator was there today and so I came by with  one of my collection of tools and other materials, so she could see what is involved.  (she's into a lot of high-tech stuff, so there are workshops for 3D printing, building robots, etc)  So today was not paid work, and it won't affect the plan for tomorrow's scheduled class, but it could pay off in the future.  Because I did show her how to cut and print a small linocut (demonstrating teaching skill) and she found it to be really fun and the resulting print to be very cute (making it easier to sell the class to future students).  Paying work begins tomorrow night, but I'm hoping more classes will follow, and if the first print class goes well, I'm pretty sure more will be scheduled.


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