I looked to the City Quilter to learn our craft some years ago…and was honored to teach my first fiber arts class there just about a year ago. Many classes later, it is great fun to consider the lessons I’ve learned…
1- Preparation, Preparation, Preparation!
OMG. Every student should teach a class just once to begin to grasp the enormity of the work that your instructor has done before you even show up for class. Hand-outs, step-out exhibits, trying to remember each and every item on the class supply list…I have newfound respect and admiration for every teacher whose class I’ve taken. Really.
2- Eat lunch before you get there. Seriously.
Because no matter HOW early you arrive, some of your students will already be there waiting. (And subsisting on the Hershey’s Kisses you brought for class is not a wise idea. Ask me how I know this.)
3- Teaching is different than doing!
You have no idea how many steps you take for granted in your favorite projects until you teach a project-based class. Even after several flawless rounds of demos in Open Studios at International Quilt Festival, you will learn the many critical steps you left out of that handout the first time around…and maybe one or two on the second.
4- Different learning styles
You know the 5-page handout with VERY specific instructions you wrote and sent out in advance? Many folks in your class didn’t read it…won’t read it…because they are visual learners who need to see the process in action. Others need to hear it. I have found that large step-out photos pinned up to the wall, accompanied by verbal explanation, is a better way to start.
5- Free spirits
Each class will tend to include a student who brings lots of their own ideas to class. Like…different materials…different patterns…completely different process. I panicked the first time this happened…and have learned since that most of these folks bring their own terrific ideas and just want to work in their own zone. We are talking about art quilting, after all!
6- New friends
I have met some of the loveliest people and witnessed many examples of incredible kindness. From the student who essentially missed half of a class and her own project because she, correctly, sensed that a fellow student was in mourning and really just needed to talk to someone…to the student who helped me with the class at critical moments because their previous careers as full-time teachers gave her a sixth sense…to the student who waited with tons of patience while another member of the class needed extra attention and care…to the friend who solved the crisis of the pre-wound monofilament bobbins 😳. (You all know who you are ;)…). Each quilter brings a different body of experience to each class and their perspective is invaluable.
Warmest thanks to my students so far on this journey…I can’t wait for the next class!