A guide for teaching Origami at a BOS Convention

Before the Class

  1. Watch other teachers in action, try to understand why one teacher is more effective than another.
  2. Use standard origami vocabulary when teaching. Always define an origami term the first time you use it. Include familiar shapes as part of the description, such as “small coloured square or “side of a house”.
  3. Understand the relative skill levels of beginner, intermediate, and advanced students and ensure your class is given a suitable category.
  4. Learn to fold the model you are teaching well enough to teach without diagrams.
  5. Learn to teach it “backwards” – when teaching you hold the model so the class can see it, so it’s backwards to you and requires much mental agility to confidently talk about left and right, which are reversed 😉
  6. Try to predict which moves or folds will be difficult for your students, and prepare different ways to explain them.
  7. Teach the model to several people in advance and learn where the instructions need to be improved.
  8. Have a clear idea of how long you will need to teach it.
  9. Decide on the best size, type and colour of paper needed to teach with, so that everyone in the class can clearly see it.
  10. Arrange the chairs and tables so that everyone can see you clearly.

During The Class

  1. Introduce yourself, the model, the model’s creator, and any background information on folding this model that may be helpful to the students.
  2. Place yourself where all the students can see your hands and the paper.
  3. Choose paper that is large enough to be seen, that contrasts with the background (a whiteboard, your shirt) and is colour/white (even if the moedl ends up all colour).
  4. Enjoy yourself whilst teaching, your confidence will transmit to the students.
  5. Don’t assume everyone will know what may (to you) be a common base or technique.
  6. Phrases such as “over here” are not precise enough.
  7. For each fold, describe the place where it begins and ends and any other landmarks that locate it.
  8. Make certain that you orient your example the same way your students see their paper.
  9. Don’t move on to the next step until all students have completed a step correctly.
  10. Encourage the students to watch your demonstration of a move before they attempt it. Demonstrate each move twice.
  11. Watch your students carefully, and not just their hands. Look for blank or puzzled expressions and paraphrase your instructions if necessary.
  12. Be supportive and encouraging in your instructions – not everyone learns at the same pace. Give the class as much assurance as you can.
  13. Maintain discipline so that students are quiet and attentive. Noise and “chat” can distract some learners.
  14. Suggest that students compare models with each other. Encourage them to help each other if possible by demonstrating rather than taking over.
  15. Help individual students where needed, trying not to do the fold for them unless absolutely necessary.
  16. Keep an eye on the time!

Adapted with permission from an OUSA document