Jimmie P Rodgers, veteran of many soldering workshops at Maker Faires around the world, has written up a great summary of what makes the perfect workshop setup for teaching soldering to beginners.
Whether you want to teach a dozen people or hundreds, getting the right equipment and keeping it clean and in good shape can save beginners a lot of frustration.
I’ve been running soldering workshops for a few years now, and along with Mitch Altman, we’ve taught thousands of people to solder. I’ve used everything from $1,000 re-work stations to $1 irons bought off of eBay. I get asked quite often what people should buy for themselves, or what they should be buying for their hackerspace for running workshops. Honestly, once you get above a certain quality level of iron, it doesn’t matter for through-hole soldering. You can get good soldering joints from irons that cost less than $10 quite easily. I do however have a few suggestions.