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Thread: What advice do you have for a new quilting instructor?

  1. #1
    Super Member Central Ohio Quilter's Avatar
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    What advice do you have for a new quilting instructor?

    I may be getting a new part time position teaching some beginning quilting classes.

    I have taught before, and I have quilted for over 35 years, but I haven't taught quilting before.

    What advice do you have for a new quilting instructor?

    What have other quilting teachers done that you did NOT like, or appreciate?

    What have other quilting instructors done that you really liked?

    Not sure exactly what I am looking for, but any kind of advice you can give!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Personally I think one of the worst things you can do as an instructor is tell people there is only your way of doing things. Eventually everybody will find several methods of doing things and may find a method better than the one you taught as the only way and in the end that just makes you look bad. It's much better if you tell your students there are several ways of doing ______ and this is the way I do it and why.

  3. #3
    Senior Member luana's Avatar
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    I have been fortunate to have such good mentors. Their one common element is that they are genuinely nice people with a ready smile. I love to walk into a quilt shop with a class going on and hear all the chatter and laughter. So, my advise would be to relax and have fun. Model for you students the joy of working side by side, the satifaction of doing a new skill for the first time, and the frustration of making the same mistake 3 times in a row. This is a beginning quilt class, if you can share the joy of quilting, they will be happy to know that there is a life-time of learning ahead.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Patti25314's Avatar
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    Demonstrate good techniques, answer questions, and try to get them to start small so they'll have a finished project to be proud of.

  5. #5
    Super Member woody's Avatar
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    I agree with Scissor Queen, that there are lots of different ways to do things and not every way works for everyone.
    Also don't assume that they will know things. My first teacher went right through the most basic things like tying a knot on the end of your thread. We did a sampler quilt with a different technique in every block, starting with a 4 patch. It also included a little curved piecing, applique and triangles. Gave me the confidence to think almost any pattern was achievable.
    Good luck and have fun
    The biggest risk is the one not taken

  6. #6
    Super Member Deborahlees's Avatar
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    Make sure you provide good clear written instructions, that the students can use, over and over again, when you are long past the rear view mirror.....
    Don't play favorites in the class, everyone else will feel slighted.
    Don't allow click (small social group) conversations, that is so distracting from everyone else....
    Speak clear and carefully so everyone in the room (front row to back row) can hear you....
    Have examples to show ....what to do and WHY....what not to do and WHY....a lot of people are visual learners.
    IF you are comfortable give out your phone number or perhaps your email address for followup questions....
    Stay after class for questions.....
    Make sure you enforce the concept of enjoying what you are doing and to have fun with quilting....
    It is not a science...but a craft, that will be learned over a period of time...
    Enforce there is a learning curve, students will make mistakes, expect it , embrace it and move on......
    Yes that is a real picture of my hometown Temecula, California. We feature premiere Wineries, World Class Golf Courses, Pechanga Indian Casino and Hot Air Balloons

  7. #7
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    All of the above, and...
    Don't assume that the student knows something, even if it seems very basic to you.
    Don't encourage sloppy habits, but do be encouraging of the student's efforts - sometimes hard to do both at once.
    Prepare some good handouts. Students can't absorb everything in class and will appreciate having something at home to refer to.
    Tell the students about local guilds and quilt shows to fuel their new quilting habit.
    Recommend some good books on basic quilting, and if possible bring your copies with you so the students can look through them during class.
    You will probably have one student who is (pick one type) know-it-all/down-in-the-dumps/talkative/grumpy/unprepared. Try to keep that person from ruining the class for everyone else.

    Good luck with your teaching. Quilt classes are almost always fun, and sometimes what you learn isn't exactly what you came to learn, but it still counts.

  8. #8
    Super Member Central Ohio Quilter's Avatar
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    Great Advice everyone! Keep them coming!

  9. #9
    Senior Member jeank's Avatar
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    If the students are paying for the class, to you or the quilt shop, they deserve your attention. I have been in classes where the instructor also was running the store. She left to wait on customers. Other times, the instructor had friends stop in and she visited with them. The students are paying for your time.
    Jean in MI

  10. #10
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    On one of my classes the teacher knew all the students and would discuss other things with them, which was ok since I was paying more attention to my work. The worst part was that she did not use the same supplies as us that were listed on the class supply list. She used a product that was easier, MUCH easier to use but failed to tell us before the class started (and she had weeks). We all struggled. Needless to say, that was the last class I took with her. I am still not sure I will go back to that outfit altogether.

  11. #11
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    Be prepared to tell some stuDents a million times. Not to leave rotary cutter open on a table and all other parts you have previously taught. Be ready for the class to turn up and prepared. Have spare material and batting for those who forget so that their class is not wasted and your teaching. Classes in shops are lucky as supplies are easily available if yours aren't then take some wit you and sell to the class or share.

  12. #12
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    my first teacher

    My first quilting instructor thought that there was only one way to do anything-----HER WAY. The truth is there are usually several or many right ways to do every step in the quilt making process and no single one is right for every quilter. My advise is if the end results are satisfactory let each person do their own thing.

  13. #13
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    Be sure to go slow. For some, this will be new to them and for others, they will know quite a bit. So, go slow so no one feels left out. If ripping needs to be done, it's always nice when the teacher does it for you. When you are new, ripping is frustrating and if the teacher does it, she can whip it out in no time and you don't feel so bad.
    If you see someone struggling, ask them what they don't understand. Some times, someone doesn't understand part of the process but is afraid to say so out loud, so look around and keep an eye on progress. Some classes I get frustrated if I don't understand part of it, but don't want to have to ask about it if everyone else seems to understand.
    Be friendly. Be very open to everyone. I've had teachers who would help me iron even if I was behind (making purses, OMG) and it really helped me catch up to the rest of the class. I found out I don't care to make purses anymore. I like teachers who explain a section at a time and then let us do that part before telling us the next step. Taking it step by step. I'm talking beginner's quilting classes. For newbies.
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

  14. #14
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    Be PREPARED!!! By you being prepared, your students will also be prepared. If there are patterns and templates that will be used for the class, make sure they are available before the class. If the students need a certain book for the class, make sure they know that ahead of time and can have it purchased before the class (or make sure the LQS has the books available for sale). If specific fabrics are needed, make sure the students know this also. Have adequate space for the number of students, including outlets to plug in the machines. Have more than 1 iron available for a class of 15 or instruct students to bring their own. Be willing to get up off your chair and walk around and check on the progress of the students (I am drawing off of the experience I had with the one and only quilt class I took from my dealer) NEVER AGAIN!!! (They don't get my fabric money either)
    No one has ever become poor by giving. - Anne Frank
    Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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  15. #15
    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
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    I have only taken one formal quilting class (and I learned a bunch, and should take more!) but the lesson that sticks out from that experience is if you are having the class use some non-consumable of yours (in this case it was quilting stencils) make sure you enough enough that there will not be a bottleneck of students awaiting their turn. This could apply to stencils, cutters, irons, any specialized equipment...the class I took was for handquilting, using your thumb to rock the needle, so not much equipment needed, but the shortage of stencils slowed everyone down.

    Alison

  16. #16
    Super Member ube quilting's Avatar
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    One thing that I experienced in classes was that everyone hated their work 'cause it wasn't "perfect". Try to have or do something that shows the beauty of the whole project. One little seam shouldn't be the ruin of any quilt project.

    I think just the act of trying is perfectly wonderful.
    peace
    no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

  17. #17
    Super Member QuiltingKrazy's Avatar
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    Just be yourself, if you try to hard to e something your not, your students will know and not be comfortable to ask for help. and YES preach "close the rotary cutter" before you lay it down! You don't want to have to teach first aid!
    Lisa B in NC
    Quilting is my Happy Thought!
    http://www.quiltingkrazy.blogspot.com

  18. #18
    Super Member moonwork42029's Avatar
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    A full, detailed clear listing of supplies to bring to the class...including if your machine and extension cord will be required (remember to tell them to bring their power cord, foot pedal and bobbins...surprising how many don't). If you think they will have a problem getting the supplies, have a "class kit" available for purchase. I'd rather have a lower class fee and use my equipment/supplies than to be forced to buy what they demand you use. (for a "learning class...not a "project specific" class).

    If you want to do samples, have them make up "sandwiches" before class by giving detailed instructions on how to do so OR have the sandwiches pre-made and hand them out at the beginning of each demo...it takes too much time for them to be made during the class.

    Have stenciled designs already traced on muslin if you are going to follow designs. You can have a step by step demo of how to do the stencil but don't take the time for everyone to trace them during class.

    Be sure any of your "short cut" tools are available to purchase at the shop. Show off your "can't do withouts" and be willing to let them be handled and passed around.

    NO drinks, smoking, cell phones or children in the classroom.

    If you are game, practice your entire class lesson on a neighbor/friend pretending they are your class. Be serious about it and have them give you honest feedback.

    Have fun and best wishes.
    Lisa L.
    Howdies from Possum Trot (yes it does exist)
    My most recent swap - Boomerang 16



  19. #19
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    Everyone has such good suggestions. All the classes I have ever taken have been in a quilt shop so supplies were available for purchase. Remember not everyone who takes your class will be a beginner. I took a beginner class because I wanted to make the quilt. I didn't need the help like some of the others, but I never felt out of place.
    Sue

  20. #20
    Senior Member batikmystique's Avatar
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    Everyone here has listed very good points and ideas. I would like to add to one already mentioned in regards to needing materials for class. If the class requires purchasing a book, guide and/or special tool of some sort, please consider the price of that item(s). A lot of students, especially new ones, may not know if this particular quilting technique/project is the thing for them and may be hesitant to invest in the materials. Others may just simply be on a tight budget. One of my quilting teachers polled the students in a class I was taking about a possible upcoming class project which required purchasing a book that was close to $25. Although we were interested in making the project, we did not want to invest in the book. Apparently the author would not permit the reproduction of the instructions from the book. It was disappointing but we all moved onto something else. Sorry if my reply is lengthy, but bottom line is all of us come from different financial situations which perhaps may limit participation in a class. Best of luck to you!
    Creative clutter is better than idle neatness.

  21. #21
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    Write yourself a step by step lesson plan. Anticipate the time for each step. Have written instructions ... most people only remember about 10 percent of what was spoken... and you do not get to pick .. what 10 percent each remembers. Have what ever visual samples ready when class starts. it helps for some projects to have more than one sample so they can be passed more efficeintly. Have some time set aside for "after" class "special" instructions for those who may have lost there way during class.
    Attend a class of a highly respected instructor , make notes of her/his style etc.

  22. #22
    Senior Member asimplelife's Avatar
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    I took a beginning quilting class 10 years ago at my LQS. The teacher was so positive and encouraging. Like others have said, she was really good at explaining different ways of doing things first, and then taught the method that she thought was best and told us why. We used Alex Anderson's beginner book and could choose from 3 quilts in the book for our class project. I think all 5 of us chose rail fence because there were no triangles! Mine is still on my downstairs table. She told us to pick a border fabric that we loved and then helped us pick the rail fabrics by teaching value & scale. I remember bolts of fabric scattered all over the place and how fun and exciting that process was. We met weekly and there was also a separate time each week that she was available in the store for extra help if needed. I really learned a lot from her.

  23. #23
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    Beware of focusing on one struggling student to the exclusion of all others. I paid for a class and someone brought their new machine. Needless to say she wasn't familiar with how to thread, set stitch length etc. I felt like my $ was wasted because we were just given brief quickly given instructions while the teacher focused on this one person. Have a plan in mind for how you would handle various situations like this and others.
    Cheryl Robinson
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    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

  24. #24
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    Borrow a newbie, or non-, quilting friend. Then go over your lesson plan with them. It will be good practice. You will probably learn another way of looking at things. Take good notes with this so you will know what to do.

    Please, PLEASE, do not keep repeating the same thing, rephrase it. If someone doesn't get it rephrasing will help.

    Later on you can repeat.

    Most of all encourage your students to relax and have fun.

    All the above suggestions are great.

    ali
    Have fun quilting! If it isn't fun, you will miss a lot.
    ali

  25. #25
    Super Member Knitette's Avatar
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    If you've taught before, you'll probably be fine. Teaching quilting is not really any different than teaching anything else - the same skills and attributes will stand you in good stead. However, if you've only taught children before, then teaching adults is a little different.
    Friendliness, confidence and approachability are the key factors. Adult learners will not expect you to be perfect, but will expect honesty, reliability and self-awareness. Never assume knowledge, but at the same time, don't patronise.
    Bear in mind the large differentiation you may have in students - some will be novices and need a lot of reassurance and support, whilst others may want to race ahead. Be prepared for how you will deal with this.
    Make sure you get your supply list out EARLY - some people may have to travel to source items or use the internet.
    A sense of humour is a great asset - take the class seriously, but not yourself!
    If you enjoy what you're doing, they will too. Remember, they're learning because they want to, not because they have to!

    One of the worst classes I attended was taught by someone my LQS holds in high regard. She arrived in a great flurry complaining she'd put her back out. Whilst the shop assistants were fawning over her another student and I were at the counter getting some supplies (there's only one LQS in my area and the list had been given too late to ensure internet delivery), only to discover there was no stabiliser at the necessary weight left. Whilst the assistant was dealing with us the tutor started the class - before the appointed time! She did know a lot about quilting, but was at pains to let us know how much. You would have to pay me to go back to one of her classes.

    I don't know a lot about quilting, but I lectured adults until I retired. During that time I also taught lecturers how to teach. The very fact you're on here asking for opinions and advice tells me you'll be fine. Good luck, relax and enjoy!
    Lang may yer lum reek. (I'm a knitter - hence - 'Knit-ette'. Confuses a lot of people!)

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