How to become a BETTER Student . . .TEACHERS

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I’ve taught approximately 20+ classes at our shop and other locations in Oklahoma. By no means am I a professional instructor or do I call myself a “teacher”.  Most of my friends are instructors – teachers of some form – crafts, beads, school. And in high school – I believed I was going to be a Educator – of something? I haven’t taught a class in almost 3 years. And we’re thinking about having a class at our bead shop in the near future. . .
Another reason I wanted to write about students and teaching is from my personal experiences as both – student and teacher – instructor. It’s my humble opinion that teachers often get a bad rap.  

Now, don’t go running off screaming “she’s blaming students” but I do know from experience that there have been more times than not that a bad class experience has equated to = ill-prepared – uninformed student. And you can say “Well, it’s the instructors fault for not qualifying or quantifying or listing prerequisites that tell a student enough information about the class to warrant not signing up”. True. If everyone READ.

My own personal story – and if I’ve taught 20+ classes – I have 20+ stories. The one that applies here is: Said perspective student (PS) comes into shop and after chatting informs me she is a “sewer” not a “weaver of beads” but a “sewer of fabrics” to which I say “I don’t sew clothes or fabric, but I am certain this is nowhere near the same” and the conversation goes like this:
(PS): Oh, I’m sure it is, it’s just needle and thread, how hard can it be?
ME: Well, if I want you to take the class – I’m forced to say it’s easy – but to be honest – like any area of interest in your life – there is a learning curve – a building block – steps to take to get from Point A to Point B.
(PS): I’ve got over 30+ years of sewing. I’m sure there isn’t much I can’t learn or don’t already know. You should be paying me to teach the class – with my years of experience, I’m better qualified!
ME: Okay, if you think so – then I do not see any reason why you can enroll (giving in – even though my PREREQUISITE stated PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF RAW) and wanting to keep (PS) happy and returning as a customer to our bead shop and our classes - a FINE LINE to walk?

Day of CLASS - (PS)sits at the end of the table. And even though my instructions called for 2 – 3 feet of thread – she unspools about 5 yards. To which I say (PS) it’s probably best to use a shorter amount of thread to begin. . . she doesn’t listen.
NEXT (PS) can’t thread her needle – she blames the type – a BEADING NEEDLE? What is that???
NEXT (PS)can’t see the beads – TOO SMALL she says – who can see these tiny things?? (the class description and supply list stated we would be working with 11°’s and 15°s to make sample project, which she saw)
NEXT (PS) 5 yards of thread is knotted and caught in the floor fan. I and my DH spend at least 20 minutes trying to unwind it because (PS) won’t cut it.
NEXT (PS) can’t see in the classroom – there is not enough light to her liking and we have to set up TWO task lamps on either side of her to accommodate her – lack of – vision.
NEXT (PS) MUST leave – has prior engagement and wants to return next morning at 8am because it’s the only time her schedule allows – (we open at 10am).

The story goes on and on – but I’ll end there. I’m not playing the blame game – I’m trying to make sure students reading this – see why we try to FORECAST the FUTURE with our Class Description and PREREQUISITES – it's not to exclude anyone - it's to include ALL.  We can’t (even the best of us) foresee all things that will happen so we try to curtail any unpleasant experiences prior to them transpiring? For a better class environment for all…to have FUN – learning. Can you even begin to imagine what the other students in that class must have thought while all that hijinx took place?
And now we have our teachers - thank you to all who took the time to answer my questions, as hard as they may been because some of you make your living at teaching. I want to make sure - we understand - that all of our guest teachers are trying to help! 

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