Before I became a designer I was a teacher. I’ve known I was a teacher my whole life. Every job I’ve ever had has involved teaching in some way. I’ve been a tutor and a camp counselor. I’ve run a tutoring program and a summer school program for inner city children in Baltimore. I’ve been a Teach For America corps member, the education director at a non-profit, and, finally, a public school teacher. I studied education theory at Harvard with some pretty awesome thinkers.
When I became a mother and left my job in education, my identity shifted. Who was I if I wasn’t a teacher?
You can imagine the crisis that came next. There were a lot of tears. The way out wasn’t obvious.
My first baby turns nine on Friday and I have, at last, found the way out, or the way back, really. What was obscured when she was an infant but is clear to me now is that I am still a teacher.
When I stepped out of the workforce I had not considered becoming a designer, a craft book author, an entrepreneur, or a writer. I am all of those things now. And at the heart of it I remain a teacher.
Here Gwen is explaining how to use a flip chart effectively.
This week I’ve been watching Gwen Bortner’s Craftsy class, How To Teach It. Gwen is an nationally known knitting instructor. I am not a knitter. I had to Google "entrelac" before I emailed her so I wouldn't feel like an idiot. But this class isn't about knitting. Gwen's former career was as a business consultant and How to Teach It is taught from the perspective of a designer who's been teaching her craft full-time for many, many years and really understands the business of teaching. She's seen it all and she knows her stuff when it comes to making teaching a part of your craft career.
You get a lot for your money with this class. There is so much practical advice in here on the business of teaching. Here’s a tiny sampling:
- How to write a teaching agreement
- Drafting a good handout
- Why you should wear a watch
- How to turn one of your projects into a class
- Why you should require students to purchase brand name supplies
- Devising a good homework assignment and what to do when students don’t complete it
- Handling different skill levels in class
- Managing student expectations
- How to go from being a local teacher to being a regional and national instructor
And there is so much more. You truly have the opportunity to learn from an expert everything you need to know to become an effective and sought after teacher. It’s like nothing else I’ve seen before.
Gwen is smart and knowledgeable while also highly approachable. With the Craftsy online class format you have the opportunity to interact with her, ask her questions, share drafts of materials you are preparing for classes you’d like to teach. Wow. So worth it.
Gwen’s class is a wealth of practical and useful information, but it’s also had an emotional impact on me. I don’t have a principal peering through my door or parent conferences looming on my calendar, but I’m a teacher nonetheless. Now I’m totally fired up to add more teaching dates to my calendar.
If you are interested in teaching your craft I highly recommend How to Teach It. Grab it here for a nice discount and get started.
And if you'd like to start by teaching people to use their sewing machines, I have an ebook that provides you with everything you need to get up and running.
Disclaimer: I was given this class for free to review. But as I'm sure you've figured out, I tell it like it is.