We have a new series starting at Sew Mama Sew with instructor Deborah Moebes of Whipstitch. We know there are so many of you out there who love to sew and who find yourselves drawn to sharing that love with others. You might be called upon to help a small group of friends learn to sew or you might find yourself developing classes to teach in a local shop or through an online platform. Deborah is a skilled instructor with years of experience teaching sewing both online and in-person. (Check out her super-exciting list of e-courses!) She has a strong background in education, incredible sewing skills and she’s a funny, impassioned and effective teacher. We asked Deborah to help us learn to be better craft teachers so we can all up our game when it comes to sharing the skills, passion and fun of sewing with others. The series is for both new and experienced craft teachers and takes you through the entire process of designing a course, from the early planning stages to determining the effectiveness of your teaching. Deborah will join us for her six-part Be a Better Craft Teacher Series every Tuesday, starting next week!
In addition to her work at Whipstitch Deborah is the author of Stitch by Stitch: Learning to Sew One Project at a Time, and the instructor for the Design & Sew an A-Line Skirt Craftsy class (our Round One challenge in the Super Online Sewing Match!). We’re thrilled to welcome Deborah back to the blog and we can’t wait to learn throughout this important series! She shares a little about the Be a Better Craft Teacher Series below…
Looking for more ways to support your work as a sewing instructor or to grow your small, craft-related business? Look here!
Be a Better Craft Teacher Series
Teaching is part art and part science: it requires you to be enormously creative, but within a clear structure in order to adequately communicate ideas to individuals who haven’t had the same experiences as you. Teaching craft, while requiring perhaps a greater proportion of creativity, also demands that teachers plan and prepare their lessons in a way that leads students to fully grasp ideas and concepts so that they will leave the class ready and excited to practice their new skills. The goal isn’t to teach a class and collect our money and go home— it’s to allow our lives and our passions to intersect with those of someone else, and from there, to plant a seed that will invite them to continue to learn and grow with real joy.
As the appeal of sewing and craft have grown— wildly, exponentially— over the past five years or so, more and more stitchers and crafters have ventured into the classroom and have started to offer courses and workshops as a way of sharing what they love. It’s such a rewarding means of expanding the creative work you might already be doing, and puts you—as an instructor and guide—in a position to ignite a life-long passion in your students. Unfortunately, when poorly planned or executed, a craft class can also turn a student off to crafting forever. Ask any sewing or craft instructor: we all have stories of students who have come to us with horrific memories of sewing classes gone bad that made them abandon their machines and not return to them for years.
Teaching is a privilege that comes with huge benefits and rewards, but also asks of us that we put the thought and time and planning in to make the experience of the end user— the student— as magical and exciting as it can possibly be. Never underestimate the life change that can happen at a sewing machine, or that you as a teacher can be a vector for transforming someone’s life. With that in mind, this series aims to cover the basics of planning and implementing sewing and craft classes with the goal of making them as beneficial and effective as they can possibly be, to set a high standard and expectation for classes that offer a real, tangible reward to students.
Kristin and Beth, here at Sew Mama Sew, share my background in education, and all three of us feel really strongly about creating and delivering awesome creative classes. Working together, we’ve designed this series to help new and veteran teachers examine how they design their classes in order to build strong instructional foundations and tweak the details until every class is as awesome as it can be. I’ve divided the series into six parts, each focusing on addressing a different stage of preparing and planning classes for the creative fields. In Part I: Know Your Stuff, we’ll analyze the needs in the community that you hope to meet with your class, and differentiate between true instruction and “sewing along.” In Part II: Know Your Student, we’ll talk about the recipient of your class, and understanding how different audiences require different levels of preparation when planning a class. In Part III: Know Your Goal, we’ll talk about actually designing the class, and how to be specific and intentional with your objectives in teaching so that you and your student get the most out of your time together. Finally, in Part IV: Know Your Medium, we’ll take the previous three parts and use them to determine how (and just as importantly, WHY) you’ll teach the material that needs teaching to the people who will be taught. Part V: Know Your Limits, covers implementing the plans you’ve made, and how the nuts-and-bolts of a limited class time work given the inevitable mistakes of both teacher and student. Finally, in Part VI: Know Your Effectiveness, we’ll dive into evaluating the class at the end— both evaluating your performance and the class content itself, a crucial step in allowing you to revise your plans and make a class better and better every time you step in front of a group of eager learners.
I am a fervent and passionate planner, in all things. I love that stage of any project. As an instructor, I have watched the results in my own classes and in others’ when we fail to plan; it can lead to a big ol’ mess. Sometimes a small mess, where you skip a step in construction and ask a dozen people to cut out their project wrong leading to not enough fabric to go around; and sometimes a giant mess, where someone walks away from your class and says they’ll never craft again. Teaching is such a tremendously enjoyable and empowering way to share something you love. It’s also a humbling experience that asks us to be deliberate and thoughtful, because we are given the chance to hold someone else’s dreams in our hands, just for a little while. Let’s band together, y’all, and make every class the best it can be.