learning, quilt, quilting, teaching

Gotta Question for you quilters

Moon Set copyIn a recent conversation with a friend we both had questions for one another. Most of her questions answered fairly easily. My question of her is something I know the answer to in several ways however I’ll be asking for comments later.
I’m going to preface the question with a little background for those who are recently reading my blog and a couple of classroom experiences.

I started quilting in my early 20’s learning mostly from patterns, magazines, and the basic sewing skills learned at home and in home ec. I have all the classic stories:
sliced the edge of my finger with a rotary cutter (as an aside this is an effective way to share with newbie quilters…I don’t have to say much and they get the PSA),
stitching my finger on more than one occasion, stitching safety pins to quilts,
over spraying with basting spray (nothing like Kimmy Brunner’s but still),
I’ve been a pin thief, I’ve made quilts from patterns and made up my own,
I’ve used icky batting,
bent and broken needles,
cracked more acrylic rulers than I cared to admit,
had a machine tech get irritated with me because there was lint in my machine (geez, seriously, lint…I quilt just about every day). Alright it was a lot of lint…but I’ve seen worse? I think.
I learned that using the good stuff makes a huge difference.
I’ve learned that not being afraid of my machine is a key component to good quilting.

I’ve learned a lot on my own, like so many other quilters I know. I was part of user groups back in the day and learned a lot from the experiences of the other quilters in those groups…internet groups, blogs, fb are all part of that learning experience. Quilters are some of the most generous people I know, sharing their knowledge freely.

CAM01438I’ve taken few classes over the years due to work, location and scheduling. When I take classes, I listen in to the instruction then want to (and usually) explore the technique on my own. I listen in for tips and hints, ask questions and pretty much want to, and need to, work on my own. None of the teachers I’ve taken classes from have ever said anything about it. The gift of taking classes is two-fold 1) getting to learn and hang out with quilters and 2) getting to hang out with the teachers. I’ve taken a couple of classes over the last few years just to see how other teachers teach. I’ve always thought I’m a bad student, however I’ve accepted that this is my learning style, by honoring that I end up getting more out of it.

My students teach me a lot as well. I feel, to some degree, I’m missing a some necessary component when I teach and in working on writing the book. So I’m coming to you and asking what you want in a class. Here’s the thing the comments must be positive and encouraging. Feel free to say I like this teacher and here’s why. Or I liked this class and here’s why. In the conversation with my friend she had some clear thoughts on what she wanted and needed in a class. I’m going to explore this more with her and a couple of other teachers as well.

Happy Quilting!


5 thoughts on “Gotta Question for you quilters”

  1. I like well organize teachers that don’t just treat their time is of value, but that the students also value their time and money for the class. To me, I want an organized teacher that has provided a good class description that they adhere to (and more). To clarify, I don’t want a teacher that has a description for X and spends a few minutes on it, while promoting their personal achievements, or quilts for sale, or other topics, in a class I signed up for. Trust me, there are teachers considered world class that have done this and I’ve walked away learning nothing and wasting my money.

    Teachers are needed for all levels, but teachers that try to capture it all in one class can be a waste of money.

    Be yourself. Be proud of your skills, Be a great teacher on what you can offer and focus on helping students learn and improve their skills. Just don’t lure students in and deliver something else.

    Do you capture student feedback at every class and incorporate this feedback into planning future classes? As a Teacher, do you take classes to help your teaching skills? I’m not saying you are not a great teacher, but as you asked, I want to share my perspective that teachers fall in two groups: quilters who teach, and the category where teachers to quilters, where the teachers continually learn and improve their teaching skills.

    Personal topics to me for future classes are: free-motion quilting, precision piecing, machine embroidery, and color. But I think every quilter has their own list and not all want to focus. I tend to pick my top #1-2 and only take classes in those areas, until I feel comfortable. And I’ll take classes in other areas, more as for general interest, but realizing I don’t have time to master a technique.


  2. I took a class (with only 3 students) where the instructor had an ambitious schedule, and we weren’t able to get to everything she wanted to teach. It might have been more appropriate for the class to have been broken into two classes. I do believe she was a new instructor, just starting out. So, being aware of the timing and pacing for a class is a big consideration.

    I love to take classes to see what other people will do with the same technique or pattern, but their own fabrics. It’s always amazing to me how different the exact same pattern can look in a different color, or different value placement.

  3. Hi Teri, I think I learn like you. And so I do appreciate when a teacher does not insist that I do it her way. Encouragement, suggestions. But also encouraging me to try to find my own voice.

    I always learn something at workshops. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the stated intent of the workshop, its just something that the teacher threw out there from her collected knowledge.

  4. Personally, I prefer a technique class over a project class. I have plenty enough projects in my UFO pile!! But, a technique class gives me the opportunity to play without feeling I have to finish.

    Second, the teacher who can address several “like” questions to the group and answer in a positive way ALWAYS gets extra brownie points with me. Likewise, the teacher that just answered that question and gets asked again AND the teacher answers in a positive way like it was the first question of the day also earns MEGA brownie points.

    Third, I agree with QuiltShopGal and her comments.

    Fourth, I adore the teachers who encourage you to take their technique and morph it into something outside of the box.

    Fifth, I LOVE teachers who answer your e-mails after the class and who continue to “teach” long after the class.

    Great blog today!

  5. I have to say I agree with the ladies above.

    Everyone learns differently, some are visual, some like printed instructions, and some of us like both.

    I love a teacher that doesn’t try to cram too much into a short period of time. Having taught machine embroidery I can say it’s frustrating for both teacher and student when there is too much to do and too little time. One of the things I learned was that if an “expert” level can do it in one hour, you need a 3 hours class for the same thing.

    I also like being given permission to NOT BE PERFECT. Of course this depends on what you are teaching, but as an intermediate/beginner of long arm quilting I think one of the things that frustrates me most, and I’m working on it, is that I think everything should be perfect.

    So a teacher that encourages exploration, and doing things your own way.

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