Teaching Classes

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Would you like to teach a class, hold a workshop or give a talk on a subject you think people would find interesting? TinkerMill would love to host you! We encourage all our members to teach. Everyone knows enough about something to teach a class, give a workshop or give a talk on something. You don't need to be a TinkerMill member to use the space if it's something of value and that fits with our mission. TinkerMill supports the expansion of knowledge in all areas. We only ask that you steer clear of two subjects: Politics and religion. We have nothing against either; there are simply plenty of other places for those two subjects.

How to schedule a class at TinkerMill

  1. Go to the TinkerMill MeetUp calendar and identify a day that fits your schedule.
    1. When your cursor hovers over a date, you'll see a small calendar icon in the upper right area with a tooltip that reads "schedule a meetup on this date." Click on this icon to open the Schedule a Meetup page. You will need to use a computer to schedule a Meetup rather than a tablet or phone.
  2. Fill in "The Basics" section:
    1. Notice the date of the class is set automatically. If this date is not correct, you can change it in this section.
    2. Write a title for the MeetUp in the "What should we do" box.
    3. Select a date (if it is not the date you wanted) and start time. Use the "set end time" link to indicate the end time.
    4. Select the location for your class and write directions if you think it necessary in the "how to find us" box.
  3. Fill in the Details section:
    1. Write a description that sounds interesting and fun. Use the image icon to insert an image. Be descriptive, but concise. Cover what the topic is, what you'll be doing in the class and what the attendee will leave with, if anything.
    2. List the materials you may be providing and their cost (if any) in your description. Say how you will collect payment (e.g., included in class fee or paid separately.)
    3. You will be listed as the host by default. Note that you will show up in the MeetUp as an attendee and as unpaid. That is how it should be unless you have actually paid.
    4. The class, by default, is not set to repeat on a schedule. You can edit this setting if you want to. You can always return to the MeetUp page at a later time, copy the MeetUp and set it for any date you choose.
  4. Set the payment options.
    1. TinkerMill strongly recommends using PayPal for class payments. PayPal proceeds will be tallied and included in instructor payments.
    2. Set the amount to charge for the class - this is what members pay. The description should explain the non-member charge and how it is to be paid.
  5. Set a refund policy if you wish. This is up to you. Refunds may not exceed the charge.
  6. RSVP settings are also up to you. Consider when RSVPs should be closed to give you time to prepare.
  7. You can ask those who RSVP a question. This may help in preparation of the class, or give information to the attendees.
  8. Click "Save as draft" if you wish to finish the MeetUp form later. You can also use this to check your work.
  9. Click "Schedule this meetup now" and review all information.
  10. Click Announce Meetup to publish the class to the MeetUp community.
    1. Once a class has been created, you can still edit the details, copy it and offer it on another date and time, share the event on Facebook, or export it to a calendar from the options underneath the class name when you click on the event.
    2. If you make a change to the class listing in any way, you can elect to notify all those who have RSVP'd.
    3. Meetup will track signups, and you can interact with those who sign up through email. After the event, those attending can leave messages or click "good to see you".

Draft of Best Practices

So that all members have equal opportunity and fair treatment we offer these Best Practices to guide the process. It can be a little tricky in a spontaneous and collaborative environment, so these practices are what we strive to uphold. If you'd like to change any of these, please attend an Admin meeting, held monthly. Check the MeetUp calendar.


Class means an instructor is offering instruction on a particular subject on a particular date, place and time...

Scheduled means the class has been put on Meetup and advertised...

By appointment means you have agreed with an instructor to meet one on one or more at a particular date and time...

Member means a dues paying member of the Tinkermill, regular, student, family or corporate...

Additional Class Tips

Choosing a date for a class

  • Use the TinkerMill MeetUp calendar and choose a date at least a few days away so that people can plan to attend your class.
  • Check other classes already scheduled for that day to determine whether the resources (space/equipment) you need are available.
  • In the RSVP settings, you can specify a group size limit. You as the scheduler will count as one.

Charging for a Class

Class fees for members should always be less than for non-members. Make any differences in fees clear in the description. MeetUp only provides for one fee level. This should be the member's fee. Include when and how the additional payment, if any, can be made by non-members. There is a credit card payment kiosk available at the front desk for convenience. Or you can accept a check at class time and submit it with the class attendance sheet.

Getting Paid for Teaching a Class

  • There are Class Attendance Sheets and Instructor Payment Request Forms available online and in the front office. Have both available at the beginning of your class session to note who is attending, their contact information, and how and what they pay. After your class is finished, turn it in at the front office. You are responsible for ensuring that your students pay for your classes.
  • Instructor payments are typically processed once per month.
  • Instructor payments are only issued after all students for the class have paid. Ensuring that all students have paid before submitting the instructor payment request will greatly expedite your payment.

Acquiring and paying for materials needed in a class

  • Decide whether you want students to purchase supplies separately or have that price built into your class costs.
  • List in the description the materials or tools needed for the class, if a class kit is provided, and its cost (if any). Include when and how this is to be paid.
    • Note: If you would like TinkerMill to provide any materials, discuss this with the captain of the shop associated with your class. We have lots of supplies in-house and can purchase just about anything else. Make sure to obtain approval from the shop captain and supply a list of what you need in plenty of time to obtain it for your class if appropriate.
  • If your class will use TinkerMill equipment, 50% of the post-expense proceeds will go to TinkerMill and 50% will be paid to the instructor. If your class is using only the TinkerMill building and no TinkerMill equipment, 20% of the post-expense proceeds will go to TinkerMill and 80% will be paid to the instructor.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I waive the member fee for another shop captain when the captain joins a scheduled class?
    No. For scheduled classes, all members should be paying the same. However, you are always welcome to give someone a private lesson by appointment and negotiate a different arrangement.
  2. Who gives the certification classes?
    Any member who feels comfortable teaching the material and who has been approved by the appropriate Shop Captain.
  3. Can I market a class outside of TinkerMill's Meetup?
    Absolutely! Feel free to advertise your class on social media and to your existing list of contacts.
  4. Do I have to require RSVP when scheduling a class?
    No. But experience shows that doing so increases the chances of attendance.
  5. I've been offering classes but not requiring PayPal when registering. Do I need to require payment at the time of registration?
    It's entirely up to you, but it would probably make things simpler. Depending on your own policy on no-shows and how many have signed up. E.g., if there is a line of people that want to take your class you are more likely to make it mandatory payment.
  6. How can I request a class?
    Post a request to the appropriate Slack channel. If none seem appropriate, use the General channel.
  7. If a non-member takes a class and pays as a non-member and the class provides a certification, do we make them take the class over if they become a member?
    ie: Julio takes Basic Soldering and he's not a member. In a few weeks he becomes a member. Do we make him take the class over for his certification?
    The big reason we don't allow non-members to use the certified-only equipment is because we don't have a good way of tracking certifications for non-members. That being said, if someone joins shortly after a class and we're easily able to confirm that they took the class, you can award them the cert.
  8. My class will require extra space and table or two. How do I go about "claiming" that space and tables for my class?
    Scheduled classes have precedent. Slack is one way. Post a message to the General channel. You could also add that info to the class description on MeetUp. Then, set out signs on the table/s you need in the space you need the night before.
  9. Someone is giving a class in a space and using equipment I needed to use today. How can I be informed of when classes will take resources I need to use?
    Check the MeetUp calendar. Bookmark it. Refer to it when equipment needs are critical to you. Scheduled classes have precedence.
  10. What is the best way to learn about classes?
    There are a number of ways. The best way is to check the MeetUp calendar. If you are a member and have access to Slack, leave a message in the most appropriate channel. Check around the shop that interests you for a sign or brochure about the shop and upcoming classes. Ask the Shop Captain whose contact info should be present in the shop space or in the Slack "Captains" channel. If a brochure or sign doesn't exist, you can work with the Captain to create one!
  11. How do waitlists work?
    When someone cancels, Meetup offers you the slot. You could also come at the class time and see if there are no shows that day that you can take the space for.
  12. How do you know if I'm certified - how can I check if I was certified on the most current equipment?
  13. Can anyone use the soldering tools whether they are a member or not?
    Anyone can use the electronic soldering irons. (Gas fueled soldering torches always require certification.)
  14. How does one know if a tool requires certification?
    The easy answer is to ask the shop captain. There should be a sign or color code to indicate if a certification is required to use a tool.
  15. I am not a member of TinkerMill but I'd like to take classes there. What is the policy?
    As a non-profit, TinkerMill makes all classes open to the public. However, you will find that members always will pay the same or less for a class than non-members.
  16. I am not a member but have taken a TinkerMill class that certifies use of a tool (laser cutter, e.g.). Can I now use that tool?
    Related: I am a jewelry maker and am away from my home shop temporarily. I am not a TinkerMill member. Is there a way I can use the flex-shaft at TinkerMill for a few hours to finish a piece?
    Non-members may use a tool during the certification class at the instructor's discretion. To use it at any other time, you must also be a current TinkerMill member. Consider joining the starving hacker/student membership level for $25/mo. Upon submitting the documentation and paying your first month's fee, you are a fully-fledged member.
  17. I am not a member but I have some projects for which I'd like to use the TinkerMill space. I'd do it at home, but I don't really have a good working space. They're craft things, no tools necessary besides a glue gun, a paint brush, and a razor. Is there a chance I could bring my stuff and work on it there? What do I need to do?
    As a non-profit, we are open to the public provided a member is present. As long as you bring your own materials, you can work on the tables in the main room. Dues are only $50 a month and starving artists are $25 a month with a couple hours of community service. Non-members wishing to use the space are highly encouraged to sign up, if only for one month. The classes are also open to the public. You must sign a waiver at the front desk before coming in.
  18. Is the Tinkermill space available for meetings or small groups? I.e. are we able to rent out a room or a space?
    Yes. As a non-profit, we are open to the public provided a member is present. There may be a small usage fee depending on the situation. Contact info@tinkermill.org.
  19. When is payment for a class required?
    If payment is not required by PayPal when you sign up on MeetUp, then there should be an answer in the class description. If not, leave a message to the class organizer on the MeetUp page.
    Some classes allow you to pay when you arrive at TinkerMill for the class:
    By card: Use the card reader attached to the iPad at the front desk (if you use this, please write down your transaction on the clipboard).
    By cash or check: Place the payment in an envelope, write your name, amount, and what it is for on the front of the envelope, and deposit that into the mailbox at the front desk area.
  20. I'm offering a class that has a materials list. What is the best way to handle that expense?
    There are a few ways you can handle that.
    1. Make a detailed list of needs and ask the shop captain to acquire the materials. Then the amount TinkerMill spends for those materials will be deducted from the gross proceeds from the class and before the calculation of the instructor fee.
    2. Buy the materials yourself and ask students to pay for them separately - in which case you keep the payment.
    3. Buy the materials yourself, get the receipt signed by the appropriate shop captain and submit it for reimbursement.
    4. Buy the materials yourself, calculate the fee you need to charge each student for a "materials kit" and include that in your stated Meetup charge for the class. Create a separate invoice for the total kit fees collected and submit it along with the paperwork for the class. TinkerMill has to account for kit fees separately from instructor fees.
  21. I have an arrangement with TinkerMill for volunteering 2 hours a month. Can I pay those hours by offering classes?
    Yes, if you have something you can teach, go ahead. If you earn enough to pay the membership dues, everybody wins.
  22. Are any online classes offered?
    Not actually online classes but we do share information on our website. Also check the wiki for the shop you are interested in. Some class materials are available there.
  23. Why is homework required before even taking a class?
    There are some classes that have so much information that needs to be learned before using the tool, requiring the homework ahead of time, lets the instructor know you are ready to have a hands on lesson. Otherwise the instructor is spending hours going over material you can learn at your own pace, on your own time.
  24. "I am an instructor for a class. Do I need to pay for it too?
    No. Unless you want to!
  25. Some equipment has an "RFID" access. How do I get that access?"
    All TinkerMill members are asked to attend a New Member Orientation. This is where we discuss some of the more important points of being a TinkerMill member and where we provide you with an RFID badge and a TinkerMill.org email address. If you have already submitted your new member paperwork and your first dues payment, you should sign up for the next New Member Orientation. They're typically held on the first and third Wednesdays of the month and you can always see when the next one is scheduled by checking the TinkerMill Meetup Calendar. Then you must take the certification class and your RFID will be added so that you can use the tool.
  26. What kind of credential do I need to teach at TinkerMill?
    No official credential is needed. If you have learned something you'd like to share. Do so. Please.

10/5/2016 - Note from Lynne: The above represents bits of a number of threads from recent slack and other discussions that refer to holding classes. Many questions posed above do not yet have answers, because I didn't see an answer or know how to answer them. I suggest there be a vetting of them perhaps at an Admin meeting by shop captains to resolve questions/conflicts and to develop an agreed-upon set of best practices.