Hello and welcome! This is a guide for anyone interested in teaching at the Idea Lab. Here you will find information on:
Click through the tabs above to learn about teaching and classes at the Idea Lab. If you decide you would like to teach, the Become an Idea Lab Educator box below has information on how you can do so.
Our main goal is to be an educational resource for the community to build creative skills, connect with other makers, and make cool stuff! Here's what that means:
Additionally, we are an adult maker space so most of our classes are geared towards adults. We also do some family friendly programming that works for people of all ages, but we do not do classes specifically for teens and children. The teen space and children's library within Erie County Public Library do teen and children specific programming.
A good class in the Idea Lab can cover any aspect of making, whether physical or digital. That said, it is extra helpful if a class relates to equipment we have in the room and is something people could continue to work on. The list of all topics related to making in the Idea Lab would be very long, but some of the main ones are:
If your class or project cannot be done with equipment found in the Idea Lab, that's okay! If it relates to making, art, or tinkering it probably still works and we'd love for you to apply to teach.
Below is a document with some of the questions we ask when deciding whether or not to accept or host a program.
We've found that there are two types of classes that work particularly well in the Idea Lab.
Some project classes we've had are:
Some demo classes we've had are:
We try to have more project programs than demos because we want people to learn hands on. However, if you have a skill and want to share it, a demo might be right.
Occasionally, we also have traditional lectures in the Idea Lab with questions and answers after. We have found that lectures usually aren't a good fit for the Idea Lab - some kind of demonstration really helps! You can still apply to do a lecture, but it is less likely to be scheduled.
The Idea Lab supports makers, artists, entrepreneurs, and anyone who wants to share their skills and time. We have a budget to pay educators and purchase supplies for classes that need them:
You are our partners and we appreciate and value your experience! If you'd like to volunteer your time or be compensated less, you can let us know and your generosity allows us to pay more educators and offer more programs. Regardless of your preferred compensation, thank you for teaching!
In order to be paid, you will need to submit a filled out W-9 form. Erie County will mail you a check in the weeks following your class. The W-9 form is linked below. You only need to fill out page 1 - the other pages are instructions.
All the previous tabs have talked about what we do here at the Idea Lab. We choose to focus on these things so that our classes can run well and people can have a fun time and make cool things. Part of that is also being clear on what we don't do.
Typically, Idea Lab classes...
If you read the overview and would like to teach at the Idea Lab, you can click the link below to fill out the interest form.
We review submissions quarterly and reach out to discuss your lesson plan, schedule your class, and do the necessary paperwork. Please submit an interest form for each class you'd like to teach.
If your class looks like a good fit and we want to schedule it, we will reach out and let you know. The next step for you would be planning your class in a more detailed way.
We often find that many first time educators have a project or idea in mind that they think will be an easy, 1-hour class. But then class starts, people have questions, you didn't budget time for explaining... and suddenly the class is over and not everyone made something. We don't want this to happen to you.
To help you plan, you can use the program outline template below. Feel free to adjust or add to it as you wish or write your own custom plan on the blank second page. However you do it, you should...
If you want, you can include a full class outline with your class application in the attachments section.
Another important question to ask yourself is "What knowledge am I assuming people have?"
If you are good at something, it can be easy to forget all the little things you know that a beginner does not. For your class, think about any pre-requisite skills people would need to be successful. A common one is computer skills - many library patrons struggle to use computers, but many teachers assume everyone knows the difference between right- and left- clicks and will be able to use a computer fast.
It's okay if people need to have some experience and skills for your class, we just want to make sure we're aware so we can advertise and neither you nor the students are surprised. And if you realize there are smaller skills people will need to know, you can be sure to budget time or focus your class on a simpler project.
We have some expectations that apply for all classes:
Every educator should try to meet the above expectations. Additionally, we hope that classes can be fun, interesting, and enjoyable. Making that happen is something we can work on together.
Idea Lab staff will attend your class to learn, make with you, and see how it goes. We're also available to support you should something go wrong.
No matter how class goes, we talk with all educators afterwards for 10-20 minutes about how class went. This gives us a chance to discuss what happened while our memory is still fresh. We use the evaluation sheet below to guide the conversation.
The expectations are things that should happen every class no matter what and match our expectations from the previous tab.
The reflection questions are meant to guide an honest discussion on how things went and how they might be improved. We are not interested in critiquing you personally - we want to work with you to make your class successful and have teaching be a positive experience.
Our goal is always to work with you to improve your classes and help you grow as an educator. With that said, there are reasons and issues serious enough that we stop working with educators. Some, but not all, are:
Hopefully the above and other issues do not come up, but we take the safety of our patrons seriously and want Idea Lab classes to be safe and enjoyable for all.