101A Costume Production

We teach two types of costume production, both labeled 101A–go figure.   The first type is working in the costume shop to learn basic sewing skills and work on show costumes.  The second is Wardrobe Crew.  They are both listed as Costume Production classes in the university catalogue; for clarity we will refer to them as Costume Shop and Wardrobe Crew.

Both 101 classes have a syllabus with grading and attendance policies.  Students fill out a time sheet to document their hours.  If you have any trouble, email Holly or Vera for a copy of the syllabus, or ask the TA who last taught the class for a copy.

TA Teaching Assignment

In the 2009-10 Academic year, we will assign one TA to lead a section of DR 101 for a quarter.  In the past we’ve assigned two TAs to lead; to compensate for a shortfall we will also accept fewer 101A students.

The assignment to teach 101 is determined by your availability and design assignment schedule.   One of the most challenging –and most rewarding- aspects of this assignment is learning to effectively lead and inspire others in hands-on creative projects.  This skill is one you will use every day in your professional life.  These skills take practice, practice, practice.

  • Do people want to work for you, or do they run screaming when you arrive?
  • Do you contribute to productive learning or do you suck air out of any room you enter?
  • Can you clearly express what you’d like them to do?
  • Can you assess if a job is done well?  People like to accomplish things they can be proud of- are you letting them get off too easy— but what is the dividing line for being too picky?

Syllabus & Handout for 101A Costume Shop

Click to download  101 Supply List

Click to download a DRAMA 101A Construction Syllabus

Click here to download a 101 Timesheet, 09

As the TA teaching 101s, you are responsible for handing out the syllabus and supply list to your students.  The syllabus form is available above.  Please personalize this syllabus with your name and contact information.

This blog software does not allow me to upload a n editable Word document, which is easy to edit.  It is currently saved as a PDF form.  There are two text fields under the TA section: the first is for you name, the second for a contact email or phone.  Acrobat has an excellent Help section that will guide you through filling in text fields, and simple instructions follow.  Fill in the text fields, save the syllabus as a file and print an original.

Method 1 Foolproof:  Analogue is Sometimes Best

If all else fails, and you have no time for this glitch, print the syllabus as is.   Hand write your name and contact information before copying for students.

Method 2: Using Text Fields in Adobe Acrobat

When you download the syllabus document, you should see two blank text fields outlined in color.  Save this document on your computer, then reopen it in Adobe Acrobat.  (You may not see the actual outline in some forms of Adobe- go to the next step to test).   Click on the Hand Tool on the top tool bar.  Aim your pointer to the space on the right of the words “Teaching Assistant”  You should be able to type your name.   Press Tab to move to the next text box.  IF Tab doesn’t work, or you can’t see the text field, you can maneuver your pointer to about where the box should be — type in your contact information.  Print this original to copy for students.

Method 3: Copy and Paste to Word

IF you cannot fill in the form, there is another alternative.  Click on the Select Text tool on the top tool bar.  Select all the text and copy it to a Word document.  The entire document will re-format, requiring you to spend a few minutes correcting that.  Keep the PDF document open so you can use it as a formatting guide.  Most common reformatting examples are:

  • Word will create more narrow margins, sentences will carry over to the next line– extend margins
  • Word will eliminate spaces between sections– click Enter between sections to re-space new document
  • Word will not recognize the columns under Costume Shop Staff section– make sure to unscramble this information
  • Word will orphan a few words or sentences onto the next page– use longer top -to-bottom margins

Method 4: Online Conversion

There are many free PDF-to-Word conversion downloads available if you have time.  Try http://www.pdftoword.com/


Goals for 101A Costume Shop

The goal of our 101 class is to teach basic costume skills.  We do not assume any previous sewing experience.  Students may- and often do- repeat the class for additional credit.  These “Returning 101s” form a more skilled pool of collaborators for our shows.

DR 101 students first create a sampler of sewing techniques that will allow them to work on department shows.  The second assignment is making a muslin mock up.  After these two assignments, students move to working on show costumes.   This class has a syllabus; make sure you go over the syllabus with them on the first class day to clearly explain policies, procedures and materials.

It is important to inspire your crews and make them feel a part of the project as a whole.  Many of them are talented and interesting students looking for ways to get involved in productions.  If you treat them like prisoners doing time, they will respond the same way.  While you will always have some students who Just Aren’t Into Your Subject, you must still find a way to make this experience a valid one.  Do they have other talents they can bring to the costume shop?

Take the time to give your students a large view of what they are working with- invite the designer to speak to your students, explain the plot, show them the renderings.  When assigning a specific item, point to that item on the rendering so they know the context and can see that finished item onstage.

Remember the gold standard for teaching is students will use your name in the future.  If you send a student onto the next class or into the working world with substandard skills or wrong information, your reputation will suffer.   When I’m not sure what to do, I ask myself this question:  If I let this work pass as acceptable, it will come back to me again and again exactly this way— is this acceptable, or do I stop it now by correcting or encouraging the student to learn better methods?

Syllabus for 101A Wardrobe Crew

Click to download a DRAMA 101A Wardrobe Crew.

For a timesheet, see 101 Costume Shop section.

Wardrobe crews for each show are registered for a class.  They will learn how to run a show, and hopefully an appreciation for the large number of people working backstage to create a show.   Students receive university credit for this class, so it is essential they receive a syllabus and fair & equal assessment.

TAs and Faculty Relationship

Excerpted from the University of Pittsburg  The Teaching Assistant Handbook

The teaching assistant- faculty or staff relationship can require a delicate balance of diplomacy and compromise because the TA’s responsibility and authority may be ambiguous.  As soon as possible, talk to your faculty supervisor about expectations for the class and your responsibilities.

There are three problem areas you will confront right away. Oddly, these same sticky areas will appear when you are a professional design assistant.  Tackling them now will arm you with better working skills.

  • Daily preparation for show notes or teaching a task
  • Asking for help without Losing your own authority
  • Being corrected in front of your students.

Even if you are an experienced TA, here are some questions you may want to discuss early in the semester:

  • What are the goals for the class?
  • Is there a set lesson plan for each session, or will I establish it each time?
  • Should I plan additional assignments?
  • How much input do I have on the grading? What kind of records should I keep?
  • Is there more than one TA, and how are the duties divided?
  • How will my teaching be evaluated, and how can I improve?
  • Is attendance mandatory?  Will there be a grade given for attendance?  How is it documented?


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