It's pretty rare that Chinese fortune cookies are so very accurate, but when I met a good friend for dinner Friday night, this is what mine said--
It had been a couple weeks since I'd seen this particular friend, and over dinner, she told me about a horrendous experience she had when she went away on a quilting retreat. A great deal had gone wrong, to say the least, but three things she told me about the teacher's (in)ability or "style" stood out in my mind:
(1) The teacher was unable to vary her delivery of information in such a way so as to facilitate learning in each of her students. We all learn in different ways. Some of us are visual learners, some are auditory learners, and some are tactile learners. When a teacher can only teach to one style of learner, several students will never "get it." That's why most of us will explain certain steps, then we'll show how the steps are done, and then we'll have the students do the steps themselves, with our help. And if someone doesn't understand an explanation, a good teacher will try to explain it a different way.
(2) The teacher demanded the students do exactly what she instructed and did not allow any deviation. During my years of quilting, I've found there are many quilters who like to follow a pattern exactly, so their quilts turn out just like the picture on the pattern cover. Some quilters will even want to use the very same fabrics. There's nothing wrong with that. But there are others who use a pattern, or see a class, as a jumping off point, and they then take it a step or two further--because they are artists. They find joy in creating. And there's nothing wrong with that either. When a teacher, and particularly one who is herself a recognized artist, discourages creativity in her students--well, there's something incredibly wrong with THAT.
(3) The teacher not only didn't praise and encourage her students' efforts, but she pointed out errors and criticized the students' work in front of the other students. As a teacher, I find it hard sometimes to even tell a student when she's done something wrong, but I know that's part of the job. I can only hope that I do it in a positive way and without causing embarrassment. After all, it's only fabric--it's not the end of the world if something's cut wrong or sewn crooked. And more often than not, it can be fixed. But hurting someone's feelings isn't acceptable--especially when they're paying ME to help them be better at doing something they enjoy.
So how about you? Have you had a unpleasant experience with a quilting/craft teacher? Or wish something was done differently in classes? Or have you had an extremely positive experience? What do you think makes a good class or a good teacher? As a teacher, I'd love to hear "what not to do" or what works well, because I want my students to enjoy their time with me--unlike the time my friend spent at her retreat.