Two Different Styles of Quilt Teachers: Which Do You Like Best?

Ask yourself this question:

Why do people take quilt classes?

Is it because they…

A) Like to learn new techniques to help them become better quilters

or

B) Have a desire to be around quilty people and be entertained?

Before I begin, let me get this out in the open so that it is already discussed and we can put it past us.  I firmly believe that it is possible to want to do both.  And I believe that a good teacher… a really good teacher… is capable of teaching new techniques effectively in an entertaining manner.    There.  That’s done.

yelbar Now, really, think about it.  If you go to any quilt class you will see people from both sides of this discussion.   You will see A) people who really are serious about learning a new technique and want to incorporate that learning into their quilting, and B) people who really don’t care what they learn as long as they are entertained by joking, laughing, giggly, goofy quilt instructors. 

teacher-image1 Are you a quilt instructor?  If so, it’s important that you understand that within your classroom, wherever that may be, you WILL have people attending who seriously are there to learn.  They have paid good money that they may have saved a long, long time, and they are serious about their financial commitment.  They will have a notebook with them to take copious notes.  They may sit as close to you as they possibly can, so as not to miss a single word you say.  They will have their camera at hand to take photos of you demonstrating techniques.  They’re probably not as likely to take cute photos of classmates or hand their camera to someone else to get their picture taken with you.  Their goal is knowledge, and you better give it to them.  Lots of it!

Also in your class, you will have students who really believe you are a teacher-image3 comedian.  That’s what they want when they come.  They love quilters and anything quilty.  They want to talk fabric, four-patch quilts, and whatever “flavor of the month” pattern is circulating around the Internet and LQS (Local Quilt Shop).  They expect jokes.  They expect silliness.  They are counting on you to be on your best performance in the classroom.  They have a bag of sewing supplies, but their goal really is a good, funny, social atmosphere for their day/evening/week away.  And you better give it to them. Lots of it. 

expertI’m going to sneak one other person into the mix, just because.    Just because, while you will have both the serious learners and the giggly girls in your group, you are almost always guaranteed one person in the room who knows more than you.  That person will keep you hopping.  S/he will explain to everyone other techniques that might (in his or her opinion) work better than the one you are demonstrating.  S/he will talk about different types of fabrics, where to buy them cheaper, what the other teachers’ philosophies are, and yank your conversation out from under your chin before you can even say “whole cloth trapunto quilt.” 

If you’re a quilt instructor, spend some time before your next class planning for these two-plus-one more scenarios.  A good teacher always prepares well in advance, not just for the lesson itself, but for possible behavioral issues that may arise.  Behavior problems aren’t exclusive to children.  Adults are just children with more practice. 

Too much preparation is a very good thing.

Caron Mosey, Ed.S.

Caron is a former K-12 classroom teacher, elementary principal and university instructor.  She has taught quilting nation-wide, including several years at the AQS shows in Paducah.  

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Published by Caron Mosey at Michigan Quilts! Copyright 2010

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3 thoughts on “Two Different Styles of Quilt Teachers: Which Do You Like Best?

  1. I taught quiltmaking for many years and considered myself an excellent instructor. I did loads of prep work, providing samples, handouts, demonstrations and time with each student to observe her stitching and offer help. Because I taught beginning level classes, most students were there to learn essential skills rather than be entertained. My class atmosphere was pleasant, but the focus was on instruction and I gave my students there money's worth.

    I think the expectation to be entertained is more of a factor on the professional circuit, where you are taking a class with a well known quilt “personality.” If the pro is doing a lecture or trunk show, I expect to be entertained. But when they teach a class, I want to learn new skills. To me, there's nothing more aggravating than spending money on a class only to have the teacher sit back, “resting on her laurels” so to speak, and do little more than provide a pattern. Most of the classes I've taken with pros have been great. But there have been a few where the pro simply socializes with her groupies, leaving other students confused and disappointed.

    There's another type of student you didn't mention ~ the one who thinks you're their private instructor. They try to monopolize your time and attention or even attempt to steer the focus of the class to the subject of their choice.

    Navigating the classroon, any classroom, is indeed a challenge and I have the utmost respect for those who do it well!

    Like

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