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Thread: Tips for a Quilt Class Instructor :-)

  1. #26
    Senior Member Roben's Avatar
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    omak, don't feel bad at all - that was *exactly* what I need to hear before the class, not after! I've been going over the classes I've taken in my head, not only for what worked but specifically for what didn't work so I can plan to do things differently. I appreciate your post so very much!

    Mimisharon, what a good point on the tiny pieces. Hubby is making me a portable design wall to take with me (gosh, have I told him that yet? Maybe I haven't...LOL) and the only block in the project can be done in several sizes, so doing a bigger one is a great idea.

    The project will be sent out to test sewers before class, because you can only look at and revise something so much before a fresh set of eyes become very important. Instructions I'm not worried about; making everyone in the class feel as if they had a good class is what I'm concerned about.

    PS: jbs, I'd love to have you come - then I start having visions of you cracking a joke, me cracking a smart response back...and drinks being spewed all over sewing machines :twisted: :twisted: It sure would be a hoot, wouldn't it? :lol:

  2. #27
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    Go Girl,
    I am sure you will get them all hooked to be wise quilters.
    Sometimes when I have do a series of classes, at end give each student small thankyou, Mini pin-cushion, or small fabric pin, just to let then know I did enjoy teaching them.

  3. #28
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    I was going to add: make sure the printed instructions are accurate and the pattern pieces or templates are accurate - but you already said you are going to have a "test run"

    handouts are nice

    I think you will have a good class

  4. #29
    Junior Member JanP's Avatar
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    Be specific re tools. The supply list for my first class just said rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat. When I got to the store, I was bewildered by the different sizes. Of course, I bought the wrong ones, e.g., a huge mat and ruler when we needed small ones. Of course, they won't be wasted eventually, but for someone who's not sure if she wants to continue this crazy passion, tools can get expensive in a hurry.

  5. #30
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    After reading through some of the other responses, they are all very good, my question is where are you teaching this class? If it is at your LQS you need to know what she has available for students to buy, and try very hard to encourage the brand that she carries. After all, you are being paid by her, using her space, etc. so it makes sense to me and I know that they appreciate the extra sales.
    It is very important that you know what level of experience each member of the class has, so I always have each person in class introduce themselves, tell when they started quilting, and how much they have done. Always watch their faces, you can tell if they understand you or not. Also watch for that timid person who is afraid to ask, especially if you have someone in the class who is always talking or giving you advice! :x It seems that some classes have those people who know a lot or think they do and want to help teach or tell you a better way of doing things. I teach for one quilt shop and the owner always lets me know if I have one of those in the class! :) The main thing is to go into class over prepared and have samples and show them how to do each step. Good luck. Jan

  6. #31
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    Sapdoggie, Wish you were in Phx, would love to take your class.

  7. #32
    Super Member omak's Avatar
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    One other thing?
    I attended one class where they were expecting me to walk out with a quilt cut beforehand(per instructions handed out at registration YAY!), but they actually only expected us to sew about four of the twenty eight blocks we cut out .... not too bad, but not understanding (my problem) that I was only doing part of the quilt that day, I became frustrated by not being able to complete each step (again, my problem, but I figured that precutting all the pieces, I should have a completed top at the end of a complete day) ... SO!
    The next class I attended at the same shop, I was resigned to finishing one block, and found out that I was going to be doing the whole thing!
    Thankfully, I was a bit older and wiser, so going with the flow was no problem, but I thought that maybe a goal of having one part done or the whole thing done, or fifteen pieces done delineated by the instructor beforehand would help the participants understand why they are there for the whole day ...
    that might be poorly worded, and again, it might just have been a lack of understanding on my part, but I have seen classes offered that said what would be completed at the end of six hours in a classroom.
    One class I attended, the instructor was so impressed with certain students that they would carry on conversations across the room, stand between students and the sample, monopolized the only iron and board in the room, all the while, having a personal conversation ...
    and, I was practicing being polite that day, so I wouldn't interrupt or get pushy ... but, I am one of those students who knows a lot and I am learning to let the teacher be the teacher. If I can encourage someone else as they are working, then I will if the instructor is busy somewhere else ... but, as mentioned before, I have a lot to learn about how to be a helpful student and not a buttinsky!
    And another thing ... one class required a nine and a half inch ruler ... maybe I didn't ask the right questions, but for a couple dollars more, I could have purchased a fifteen inch ruler and really made the new acquisition fit into my growing repetoire ... What REALLY got me was! There was not a nine and a half inch measurement ANYWHERE in the quilt top!
    I am a bit of a teacher myself, which means I am a lot of a learner ... I don't mean to sound ungrateful for others who know something I do not ... and, I fully understand that others have different ways of teaching. I don't mean to sound so negative, but I figure if I was put off by some of these things, what happened to someone who wasn't as much a knothead as I am?
    From what you are talking about for your class, you sound very prepared.
    If I am ever in your class, I PROMISE to let you be the teacher! LOL

  8. #33
    Member deltaquilter's Avatar
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    I have taught many classes--. be encouraging to everyone, whatever they do, find something positive to say about it. Demo's along with the explanation are appreciated. A well known instructor told me to always wear lipstick. Sounds silly, but people seem to understand you better when they can see your lips. Good luck!!

  9. #34
    Member deltaquilter's Avatar
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    One other thing, in the class requirements say that they must be familiar with their machine and bring the machines book along with. I took a class once and one woman had no idea how to run her machine. The instructor spent the majority of the class time helping her.

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltaquilter
    One other thing, in the class requirements say that they must be familiar with their machine and bring the machines book along with. I took a class once and one woman had no idea how to run her machine. The instructor spent the majority of the class time helping her.
    I would not have been a happy camper in that class -

    I took a class with another woman that wouldn't keep her mouth shut so I missed a lot of what the instructor was trying to teach us.

    This had nothing to do with the instructor - but I'm sure it was annoying to her. and the other people in the class.

  11. #36
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    Roben,
    I've taught a few classes and always put in little reminders, e.g. make sure you are sewing a 1/4 inch seam (I've been going towards a scant 1/4 inch lately.); Watch how they are pressing their seams, not ironing them, etc. Sometimes just reinforcing the basics helps out a lot. My biggest thing is telling them to make sure their rotary cutters are closed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I tell them I never want to hear about someone who's grandchild picked up an open cutter and severed the tendons in the palms of their hands. They all grimace and the blades are covered.
    One thing I have done in my last two classes was to have the students set up, tables in the form of a "U" and then I have them bring their chairs into the open area and have them introduce themselves and then give them a little lecture about what we will be doing that day(that way they know if they are in the right class...you'd be surprised). Use props to explain the steps. Keep walking around to see what the students are doing. Give them time parameters..."It's 11:00 and so if you want to go get something for lunch at 11:30 you have a half hour."
    I like the idea of the students bringing a camera to help them later. I also give them my home phone number in case they have any questions at a later time. (Most of my students belong to my guild and already have it, but it doesn't hurt.)
    Good luck in your class and let us know how things went.
    Chris

  12. #37
    Super Member lass's Avatar
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    I was at a class last weekend and the teacher included two things with her handouts that were helpful - samples of how to finish the quilt (using the blocks in different ways) and samples of the quilting. It was also helpful when the teacher gave a quilting how to that wasn't necessary for the class. Hope this helps.

  13. #38
    Super Member jbsstrawberry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roben
    PS: jbs, I'd love to have you come - then I start having visions of you cracking a joke, me cracking a smart response back...and drinks being spewed all over sewing machines :twisted: :twisted: It sure would be a hoot, wouldn't it? :lol:


    Who me? make you spew Dr. Pepper? now would I do something like that? :twisted: :twisted: muwahahahahahahahahahahaha

    I'm thinkin at least a hoot and a half :D

  14. #39
    Power Poster RedGarnet222's Avatar
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    Funny my neighbor and I were talking about good and bad classes we have taken last night. Kitty made a great point, make sure you get around to each person to ask them if they are understanding the tasks and make them "feel welcome". She took a week long retreat that the woman (I am not saying who, but you would reccognize her name) showed favorites to her buddies the whole time and hardly even spoke to her! And she was very vauge with her vocal and written instructions.

    Perhaps do your (loud and clear) presentation complete and then ask for the ladies to show thier hands if they need to ask a question or be given just a little more help.
    I totally agree with giving out a great handout sheet. It makes a big difference is you have to wait a month or two to finish up the project.

    I take my recorder with me to some classes. A small video camera to others if I know it is something that is going to take a visual retake for me to remember.

    Please do touch on color and scale of fabrics, it does make a big difference in the finished product. If possible use a big layout board in the front of the class. Or poster ... both help.

    And last of all, I know your class is going to be great! You asked the right questions ahead of time. Good teacher habit, Roben!

  15. #40
    Super Member omak's Avatar
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    Yeah! What Red Garnet said! You are going to have a GREAT class!

  16. #41
    Super Member Shemjo's Avatar
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    It is good to know the space you will be using beforehand. Lighting, temperature, outlets, and tables and chairs are important to take in to consideration. Where will you be positioned? Are there places to display the pieces in progress?

    I would be interested in how your class went. I think as you are concerned with how it goes, your class will be fine. :lol:

  17. #42
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    Someone once took a class and the teacher used her selection of fabrics as a bad example. She was mortified.

  18. #43
    quiltluvr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray
    Someone once took a class and the teacher used her selection of fabrics as a bad example. She was mortified.
    That's so not cool!!!!

    One way I see to address it is in a separate class that is focused on picking fabrics and have the teacher provide samples of why the fabric doesn't work well with others. However, everyone has their own "eye" too and sometimes those difficult fabrics look outstanding in certain patterns.

  19. #44
    Super Member mamaw's Avatar
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    I agree with teaching as if there are beginners in the class. I remember when I started quilting in 2005, and feeling shy about being the only one who didn't know what she was doing. Everyone made me feel so comfortable and reminded me that they were beginners once too.
    Sounds like you already have a good plan, so good luck and hope the class appreciates your time and energy it takes to put it all together.

  20. #45
    Super Member omak's Avatar
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    As a color challenged human, I always get uncomfortable when someone starts going into colors matching or colors complementing or brings out a color wheel.
    I quilt because I like doing practical things, I like the colors and I really enjoy all the angles. I would LOVE to be able to make a quilt that was color correct, but I get so excited by my stash that I just start pulling out the things I like and put them together and HOPE it is okay ... (in other words, that I will like it)
    I don't think much of the hippies, but they did loosen up that color wheel, didn't they?
    anyway, I will admit to being a hard learner/knot head/challenge student , but sooner or later, it dawns on someone that their quilt doesn't look exactly like they thought it should. When someone mentions contrast, it starts sinking in ... how to combine the over zealous zest for color with a manageable/recognizable quilt pattern is something I think people grow into ... and through time, being exposed to other quilters, I have come to understand texture, even! ... not that I want to know much more than that.
    I think, reading all the things, and to spare beginners information overload, maybe understand how different people learn is the key to all teaching, and even learning ... some students READ ... some students LOOK and figure it out sans patterns, technique experience or everything else others go through (over achievers! LOL) ... some students have to SEE an operation done a number of times to understand the technique they are trying to learn.
    One of the greatest gifts a teacher can give a student is the confidence to learn in exactly the way that student needs to learn. Students get so frustrated with themselves because they don't catch on like their neighbor does ... they just need to relax and accept the way they learn and work to achieve that technique. I always try to teach people to understand themselves, and work with themselves just as they are.
    I know it sounds all so psychological, but it is as simple as understanding that we all have different gifts and different approaches, but even those differences compliment, not compete and boil down to three to five different approaches.
    I know our teacher friend that started this thread wants to make sure that she has satisfied, taught students because of the joy she has in the effort.
    That heart will be revealed within her students ... it always is.

  21. #46
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    I think if most of the students learn what you planned for them to learn, you will have had a successful class.

    There are some of us that just don't get it the first time - so there is no point in beating yourself up if you did the best you could.

    It is so nice to have an AHA moment - but sometimes that occurs YEARS after the class in question.

  22. #47
    Super Member omak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray
    I think if most of the students learn what you planned for them to learn, you will have had a successful class.

    There are some of us that just don't get it the first time - so there is no point in beating yourself up if you did the best you could.

    It is so nice to have an AHA moment - but sometimes that occurs YEARS after the class in question.
    That! Is REALLY the truth!

  23. #48
    Super Member AnnaK's Avatar
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    I agree that it is important to show each step of the way and have a sample of each step on a board so that even the beginners are able to see how things come together. My friend and I are teaching a class in Sept. and decided to teach a 'simplified' version to learn the technique. Once the students have the technique down, perhaps sewing a sample from their stashes, they can go on to duplicate it on premium fabrics.

    good luck; it will be fun and you'll be surprised how fast the day will go by.


  24. #49
    Super Member GailG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roben
    I'm getting ready to teach a class, and having taken a class or two :-) I have on occasion wishing the instructor could read my mind and cover things I had questions about. Since the shoe is about to be on the other foot :twisted: and I haven't learned to read minds, I thought I'd just ask:

    What do you wish a class instructor would cover? What do they assume you know that you wish they'd go into more detail about? Was there anything you really appreciated?

    Our class will be on a wall hanging I designed, and will cover how to make the blocks and do the border treatments (folded border and prairie points.) We'll talk about quilting options for the final piece, but probably won't have time to go over how to do each one.

    I haven't taught quilting classes (Ha, that would be a riot!), but I have taught garment-sewing classes. I think the most important thing to do at the beginning is find out just what skills the students already know. That way you won't be planning things that they already know, thus taking time that could be used on something else.

    I've taken a couple of quilting classes where the instructor had samples made in progression. Rather that sitting to sew, she would have the pieces all made. This would be time consuming on your part, but well worth the time when you get to class. Instead of just explaining how something is done or sitting to sew it, the sample would be made for the students to see. (Your samples could be assemble after so you would have more blocks done.) That's how I did my garment units. After class I would assemble my garments.

    Also arrange your area so that all can see and hear clearly

    These may sound petty, but it makes for better class management.
    YIKES! Other than deleting and rewriting, I don't know how to correct this. Sorry about this. I think you can find my response in here somewhere. Must be time to go to bed. :oops:

  25. #50
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    The one thing I would like to add is to have someone who is somewhat of a beginner (if possible) test your instructions. Sometimes we think something is clear, and it may be confusing to others.

    An extreme example of this is a favorite English lesson I have taught from 5th grade to middle school students. The assignment was writing the instructions for making peanut butter sandwiches. Then I had different students follow the instructions exactly! (I had a copy to make sure they did) They would leave out the simplest thing assuming the person making the sandwich would know what to do. In their case, they left out things like "open the jar of peanut butter" , "use a knife to scoop out and spread the peanut butter on one slice of bread" which, by the way you hope they have been told to take the bread out of the wrapper. In case you haven't guessed, the point of the English lesson was to never assume the reader knows what they are talking about.

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