Teachers Redux

I came across a post I wrote in 2005 about the qualities teachers should exhibit. Since I have been teaching quiltmaking recently, the post made me think about whether or not I am practicing what I preach. I thought I would revisit the post in this new light and see if everything I said then still stands.

  1. Know your subject: Yes, I don’t think you should teach if you do not know the subject. However, there are sub-sections of classes where you may not be an expert so just brush up and stay ahead of the class. We can’t be experts on every single aspect of a topic. Case in point is me and how I wouldn’t try to each free motion quilting since I am not good at it. I do quilt sometimes, as you know, so when I taught my class I taught what I do when I quilt and gave resources on other types of quilting and the names of teachers I thought were good.
  2. Be well prepared: yes, absolutely.
  3. State your goals at the beginning of the class and let students know your timing. I think this gives people an idea of what to shoot for and also reduces stress. If I know there will be a break at 10am, I can plan around it.
  4. Have handouts (with pictures, if appropriate) : I have taken a couple of classes recently where the teachers have provide handouts after the class. They do this so you will pay attention to them. I understand that, but I also like handouts. I’d rather have a handout with brief descriptions so I can take notes on it than getting it later when I have to consolidate my notes with the handout.
  5. Don’t assume that since you can quilt you can also teach : I still believe this. Teaching takes skill and not everyone has it. Practice your presentation or your class before you teach.
  6. Manage students : I have been in a number of classes where one student dominated. It was frustrating for me, because I felt like the teacher was getting distracted by the person who was demanding attention. This is the hardest part of teaching, but you have to do it.
  7. Don’t assume that people are there to hear your opinion : I am not sure I believe this. I think people take classes now to learn what specific teachers have to teach. I recently took the Latifah Saafir class and didn’t expect to learn how Jen Carlton Bailly sews curves. I was there to learn specifically what Latifah had to teach.
  8. Acknowledge that people cannot absorb information for 8 hours: I made some really good points in this section. People need a variety of activities during a class: listening, doing, undoing, working with the teacher, etc. Change up your class so everyone can be successful.
  9. Be professional : definitely act like a professional, which is possible even when being friendly.
  10. Make sure your handouts are well organized or track your lecture : this point assumes you have handouts (see above #4). I prefer that handouts track the class, but I also understand that isn’t always possible. Point your students to the correct section in the handout if your lectures doesn’t track the handouts.
  11. Consider whether you need a helper : I think every class with more than 5 students is improved with a helper. You don’t want the teacher to have to run off to make photocopies or get more of their product to sell. Helpers can also fiddle with machines and troubleshoot so the class can stay on schedule.
  12. Walk around : I think 1-on-1 time with students is important. Students benefit from a discussion with the teacher.
  13. In point 1, I also mentioned books an other resources in a bibliography. This should have been a separate point. I do think it is important to provide additional resources as you won’t be with your students all the time and they may need reference material. or they may want to look at additional resources. I also LOVE reference material. ?

Go forth and teach well.