Saturday, September 25, 2010

Being a better instructor...

I'm looking for something...

It has occurred to me in the last few classes that I taught that I need a slight refresher course on being a good instructor.  But where would you find such a course?  If one existed, wouldn't everyone want to take it?  Now, I'm not a lousy teacher (I hope!) but lately, I've felt disconnected while teaching (this is 'in person' teaching, by the way) and I want to be better.  It's not that my students don't learn - they do!  And it's not that they don't finish the projects - they do!  And really, I'm not even sure if any of my students notice but I just feel like I want to be better.  I want to be more connected to the people that take my classes, to help them more, understand and anticipate their needs and wants.

Is this possible? 

Today, I went on a virtual journey.  Looking for a class, a Ning, anything that might help those of us that teach crafts to adults.  It occurred to me, as I was looking, that perhaps this type of class (whether in person or online) doesn't exist.  I DID find a description for a craft instructor.  Look at the credentials for a craft instructor here:  Craft Instructor  I love it when they describe a craft instructor as:

Craft instructors are important to us, as they bring art and creativity to the public. They help even the most unskilled artist create beauty and power through artistic endeavors.

How true that is.

Now, when I say that I'm looking for a class to refresh me on these skills.  This is what I mean:

Craft instructors must be patient, kind and understanding of others' abilities and talents. They should have a sound knowledge of many aspects of crafting, and be extremely skilled in the area they teach. They should have leadership skills as well as very good communication skills. Craft instructors must be open to many types of people, cultures and backgrounds, and should be able to treat everyone equally. They should be fair, kind and enjoy people. If they choose to go into business for themselves, they should have some knowledge about business practices.

This is so right.  It hits right on what all craft instructors should be.  This is what I want to brush up on.  I believe that I'm patient, kind and understanding.  I have a sound knowledge of the crafts that I teach and many times I'm more than qualified to teach a skill.  It's the next sentence I would like to work on.  My leadership and my communication skills.  The rest of the paragraph, I've got too!

I do think that I can be a good leader.  Heck, sometimes I feel like the darned Pied Piper! But I just want to brush up on the leadership skills.  Or maybe, I need to be humbled.  I need to know what I'm doing but not act like I do. 

No, that's not it. 

I need to know what I'm doing, be able to teach it and make the people I'm teaching feel like the only person in class - like they are getting a private lesson. 

Is that possible?  Is that what people want??  It's really been such a long time since I've been a student in a class.  Perhaps that's my problem.  I need to be a student more often.  I need to sign up for a class that is WAAAAAAYYYY out of my element so that I can get a better understanding of what others want.  Should I?  What to take?  and where?

Then there's my communication skills.  Yes, I admit.  These have been shot lately.  I can't seem to wrap my mind around anything I want to say lately.  And I'm seriously wondering if this blog post even makes sense!  :-) I find that I'm struggling to come up with words that should very easily roll off my tongue.  Words like "adhesive", "stamp", "brush".  Several times in the last few classes, I've described what it is they need to use rather than just saying the word.  Because the words trips as it's falling off my tongue.  Ever been in class and a teacher has said, "So now stick that piece of paper to the other, using that sticky stuff that comes out of the little hand held container." 

OK, yah I might not have said exactly that but something similar - and a few times too!  How terribly embarassing.  What's going on that I can't connect the object to the word?  I will say that I do find that I trip on words while not teaching too.  Almost like my brain is spinning so fast, my vocal cords and tongue can't grasp what's being said and just stops working.  Very similar to a car sputtering awake on a cold, New England Winter morning. 

Blah....  Blah, blah..... bl....ah...bla...h. blah, blah, blah, bla......h, bl....ah, Blah, blah, blah, etc. 

Say that out loud and you'll have what I sound like... sometimes.  I do not have the knack of listening/comprehending and talking all at the same time.  I know someone who does but that's not me. 

So, if any of you out there in blog land stumble across a class that might make me a better instructor, I'm looking to brush up on my skills.  Sure, I may not learn much (or anything) but then again, I just might.  And I'm all about trying to better myself and hone my skills. 

It's all for the greater good.  I refresh my skills and you get a better instructor!

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