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The eagerly awaited, much anticipated first day of my Citizen School tatting apprenticeship finally arrived, and I got to flex my teaching muscles a bit. So how did it go? All in all, I think it went pretty well. Well, there was that one incident when I gave the students a bunch of threads and told them to choose two colors to wind the shuttles, and a few kids picked gang colors. The Citizen School staff member pointed this out and though there was a bit of balking most of them picked other colors except one girl who outright refused (fortunately that is what their staff person is for, so I didn’t have to deal with this). But the majority of it I’d say went pretty well.

Especially once we got down to the hands-on try-it-yourself part, they were engaged and active, wanting to do it right and trying their best. One girl got very frustrated by every little thing and “checked out” early on. After a few minutes when I got the rest of the group working I went over and gave her some individual attention and she visibly relaxed and after a couple tries was successfully flipping stitches.

This is exactly why I’m so, so, so glad that last semester I took the class on classroom management (as part of my teacher training program) because it gave me a ton of advice that that reflective corner of my brain that was watching what was going on, as it was going on, was drawing from and saying, “next time don’t leave dead space for the rest of the class when dealing with one little thing,” and “you handled that snarky tattoo comment really well,” and “yeah, you’re doing a good job in drawing that student aside for some one-on-one coaching and specific positive feedback.” See, I’m even giving myself precise praise. Tool: check!

At the beginning of class there is always a Do Now, to get the kids engaged (read: not goofing off) as soon as they walk in, and I asked the students to write briefly why they picked this apprenticeship, or what they wanted to learn or do. Here are a few of their responses:

“I picked this because my grandma always would make this stuff and it reminds me of her.”

“I picked this cuz I thought it would be fun to make stuff and maybe I can teach other people Also the pictures looked cool and pretty.”

“I picked this apprentiship because this was my second choice. I get to make stuff of lace. I also hope I can learn new skills. My friends are also here so I want to learn new things and have fun.”

“Because I want to make rosery and give it to my girlfriend.”

“I picked this apprenticeship because I like being creative and I think this apprenticeship is creative. I really like this apprenticeship, because you can be creative.”

Kids, if any of you are reading this, I also hope it will be fun and social and creative. Let’s work together to make this a great experience and learn a fun new skill!

Speaking of new skills, lookie what they made: actual tatting! And you thought this was going to be about robotics. What were you thinking?!

CS Class 1 first double stitchesHere is what one of the students made after the first class. Doesn’t look like much now, but it’s a work in progress. Here’s a closeup of another student’s effort:

CS Class 1 first double stitches closeupToward the end she was starting to flip several stitches in a row. Good job!

I wish we had another 20-30 minutes, as toward the end many of the students were starting to sort-of get the hang of it, and I felt like if we had a little more time they would have made huge progress. Now it’ll have to wait a week, likely regressing somewhat, and I can only hope a few of them will practice. I did give them shuttles to take home…

CS Class 1 Cardboard Shuttles…of a sort. These were handy, cheap and fast to make in large batches. Plus, if they loose them it’s really easy to make more.

They’ll get the real shuttles in a week or two, after they master the double stitch (and aren’t so frustrated that they throw them away). I’m trying to create an incentive for progress, a reward for persistence, and maintain the supply cupboard, as it were, all in one go.

Tune in next week week for The Double Stitch, Part Deux.