Running online workshops via zoom - Flying Fish studio #AdaptationSeries
Hello! I’m Hannah and I run an art space in Sheffield called Flying Fish studio. I had never even considered running online workshops, until coronavirus meant that all workshops in my studio were put on hold for the foreseeable future. The focus of my workshops has always been on the enjoyment of the process, creating a space where people feel safe to be themselves, to experiment with art and to build in confidence. It was so important to me that the move to online workshops still incorporated all of these values.
On zoom it’s often harder to show and interpret body language. As research shows, only around 7% of communication is verbal, 38% is vocal and 55% is visual. Without being physically present with someone, the latter of these is more difficult to convey. This makes it even more important that we think of other ways to nurture the kind of caring and supportive environment that we want.
It was really important to me that the children attending the zoom workshops knew that I cared about them as individuals. In order to help build this atmosphere of care and encouragement, at the beginning of the zoom calls I would ask the children how their day had been and whether they’d like to share anything with the group. It was important that I remembered all the children’s names when we introduced ourselves in week 1, as some of the children were using zoom under their parent’s name. Remembering somebody’s name has always been a way to help people feel connected and cared about. This was particularly important via zoom, where it’s more difficult to create eye contact and have individual conversations, so I would be referring to children by name a lot more than I would normally, compared to an in-person workshop.
One of the wonderful things about zoom is that we are welcoming each other into our own homes. Many of the children’s pets would make appearances during our workshops together. Where normally, it might be that we would take a break and play a game together, the “pet breaks” allowed for some downtime during the workshops. These unplanned “pet breaks” provided a lot of laughter and smiles for the children, and really built upon the sense of community.
One of the parents of the children attending the workshops wrote that “[my daughter] is generally not keen on virtual zoom workshops and usually keeps her camera off, however about 10 minutes into the workshop I noticed her camera was on and she was chatting away. She really enjoyed Hannah’s relaxed and fun approach. She is really missing her usual out of school art workshops so loved being part of a group and being creative again!”
I must say that at first I had reservations about running online workshops, and there are undoubtedly some disadvantages to this online approach to teaching. However, I have also experienced the advantages to running workshops in this way too, not least the fact that children from all over Sheffield can attend these sessions, without having to travel.
I have absolutely loved running the zoom workshops, and after each session I have come away with a huge smile on my face. Still being able to facilitate art workshops brings me a lot of joy and I will certainly be planning for more online workshops in the near future.
If you’d like to find out more about what we do just visit my Facebook page. If you have any questions, including if you would like me to run an online workshop for a group or community you’re involved with, feel free to message me or on 07453331418.
I have also created online video tutorials from my Sheffield studio, which are available to view on my YouTube channel. These are free to access and are suitable for both children and adults. If you would like the materials for these, I can provide Craft Boxes that contain all of the equipment and materials you’ll need to get creating!
During the past few months, over 600 of these boxes have been distributed both locally and nationally, with a really positive response. Here are a couple of reviews:
Thank you so much for the fabulous craft boxes, Hannah! They’ve loved watching the tutorials and having a go themselves. All the materials are lovely and we always appreciate your encouraging, caring and clear guides.
We love our craft box thank you so much! We were very excited to unwrap such a beautiful box of goodies and it is so clearly a big step up from the usual craft kits available.
Written by Hannah Lord, Artist and Owner of Flying Fish studio