If the class isn’t quite going according to plan (like when you have laryngitis) an emergency pack of Mars Bars to hand out always helps. Know that sometimes you have to spend more time on one technique which may not leave time for another. It happens. You can’t control everything, you can only do your best. You may even have a walk out. This may be because they’re trying to deal with an issue in their lives and can’t concentrate on the class or the class may not be what they were expecting. These issues have nothing to do with you so you have to pick yourself up and get the mood of the class back on track. The only walk out I’ve had was a lady that had just lost a close friend that week. I offered her a make-up class.
You’ll be under the thumb to deliver a great class (as it reflects on the shop or guild too) but you’ll find that you can only teach the basics in a weekend class and the real learning will come when the students are home in the their comfy sewing rooms with the music blaring and they review their notes and continue with their project. Some students will not be in the zone in class and will be nervous around strangers or about learning a new technique. Work with them as much as possible but try to give everyone the same amount of help and interaction.
No one has ever been worse than me as a beginner in my classes so there is hope for everyone. I also feel the fact they pick up the techniques quicker than I did when I learnt says to me that I must be teaching them the right way! The only person to ever fall asleep in my class was my mother who hadn’t sleep well the night before. I love that woman so I gave her that one!
Are you interested in getting teaching accreditation from your state guild? They may run courses to give you the skills and advice on how to become a better teacher.
I highly recommend teaching people, being brave and stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s a great ego boost (in a good way) and people want to quilt like you do. When I started this series of posts, I figured I had enough to write a couple of posts, not nine. I hope this shows you how passionate you can become about teaching and the level of commitment teachers put into giving their students the best advice in each and every class. Your foray into teaching may lead you to write books, discover new techniques and lead you down unexpected paths.
Once teachers reach a certain level and are constantly running classes, they may take on an assistant to run the admin/business/advertising side of things or make samples. This allows them to concentrate on creating new courses, do their own quilting and schedule some quality down time.
Don’t forget to advertise your classes. You can do this with a social media page online, through guilds, shops and print media. The most important advert is word of mouth. Winning awards at quilt shows will also increase your exposure to potential students. They’ll want to learn how you do what you do.
No matter what you teach, how can you make your class different and unique to all the other classes being taught out there? If you teach appliqué, why not try teaching 3D appliqué? What about teaching a machine quilting refresher course using a whole cloth pattern? These days you’re competing with free tutorials on the Internet. Let your personality shine through as that will set your classes apart from everyone else’s.
Whether you create a prize-winning quilter or not, you’ll be recognised all over the place—even from nine years ago and thousands of kilometres away! Whenever I travel to the major quilt shows, someone from a town I’ve taught will come up to me to say hello. That’s an ego boost in itself. I’m also proud to say I have created a prize-winning quilter who enters the shows in the US. A few years ago, she also had an exhibition at our national quilt convention. I knew she was brilliant from her first quilt. Even if you don’t make a serious quilter, what you have taught someone may in turn be taught to a friend of theirs who falls in love with it. Never underestimate the power of teaching someone—especially yourself!
Every hobby and industry relies on the sharing of knowledge. How many Internet video tutorials or classes have shown you how to do things, whether they are quilting related or not? What will you pass on to those around you or to the world through the Internet? Who taught you to quilt?
Happy quilting and teaching,