Do you teach weaving?

Do you teach weaving? I'm a new weaver but an old teacher - I have been teaching (adults, in graduate and undergraduate university programs) most of my adult life. I have always wanted to weave and finally took my first weaving class last June. I love weaving, but I did not love my class. Now that I've been lurking on this and other weaving sites, I have some advice for teachers of weaving, and also for students - especially new students - looking for someome to teach them.

Learn to teach. It is not a natural ability.  You are probably a master weaver and rightly proud of it. How did you learn? Teaching is at least as difficult as weaving, and because the set of skills required is so very different, it may be harder for you to learn. Recognize that your ability to weave has very little to do with the ability to teach and prepare accordingly. Don't presume to teach until you have learned how. It may never happen that you will be as good at teaching as you are at weaving, but they should at least be in the same neighborhood.

Change your prepositions. Do not teach "to" or "for," teach "with." Especially if your students are adults, they should be active and talking, not passive and silent. Do not teach "down from." Everyone agrees that you are a better weaver than your students. You don't have to keep proving it, and especially you don't have to keep reminding your students that they are novices and you are an expert.. Nothing undermines learning like low self-efficacy.

Don't compete. There will be things your students know more about than you. In my class, for example, someone was incredibly knowledgeable about goats. We could all have learned a lot, if only that person had been allowed to share the spotlight now and then. The classroom is not a stage and you are not Anthony Hopkins.

Manage your time. Allow extra tme for everything, and have a backup plan if you don't need the time.

Avoid comparisons among students. Never, never, never single out a student for public criticism, or compare one student unfavorably with another. Your class is a family for as long as it lasts, and they should be unified, not divided. Ideally, they make you a member of that family, but that's up to them and you must earn it.

Normalize mistakes. Everyone makes them, even you. Mistakes make teachable moments, so take full advantage, and spend equal energy describing how to get out of the current dilemma as you do describing how to prevent it from happening.

Do one thing at a time. If you are teaching, teach. Don't work on your own projects, talk on the telephone, clean closets, or skein yarn.

Love what you are doing or don't do it. No amount of money is worth doing something that drags you down.

Thanks for listening. Maybe some others have suggestions, too?

Love,

Agnes

Comments

Posted on Mon, 03/11/2013 - 18:27

Agnes,

Great post!  Perhaps the only thing missing is "be organized," but not so much that you can't go with the flow.

Janet

Posted on Mon, 03/11/2013 - 18:56

Great observations about how not to teach.  I'm not a trained teacher but recognize that I'm not and am always willing to learn from my students.  :)  Glad you stuck it out and welcome to the wonderful world of weaving.

cheers,

Laura

Posted on Tue, 03/12/2013 - 13:39

I see that I failed both to note and to follow one extremely important guideline:

Stay positive. When I'm not teaching, I review for journals, and the good journals require reviewers to identify the strengths of a manuscript before going on (and on) about the weaknesses. That would have been good advice for me to follow in my post and it is also good advice for anyone evaluating someone else's work. Tearing down is easy and plumps up the ego. Building up is hard and blisters the hands. 

My apologies. I was in something of a snit.

Love, 

Agnes

Posted on Tue, 03/12/2013 - 18:52

Agnes,

I was thinking, whoa, you must have had a *really* bad experience, and I am sorry for that. Yes, we all understand the frustration of a greatly anticipated experience and then having it fall far below our expectations. I can tell by your post you were trying to pull something constructive from the experience. I am glad you still want to weave! Yes, rest assured there are MANY fabulous weaving instructors out there.

I am not an instructor and I DO like taking classes, so my advice to new students would be two fold. Research your options-ask guildmates, go online, check the index from Handwoven and read up about a potential instructor. And be careful about class size. I prefer a smaller class size for more attention from the instructor than bigger classes that might be cheaper by the head count. If the instructor is forced to teach to greater numbers in a compressed time frame, that can sometimes lead to the inflexibility problems you described.

I'd like to add that the learning experience is a two-way street. So like you, I appreciate it when an instructor is flexible enough to allow side conversations, or, adept at deferring off-topic conversations for after the workshop, like when a talkative participant is hijacking the session. (Ok. I have to admit—I would have passed on the goat conversation ;-)

As a former program chair and weaver who still attends conferences and takes workshops, you covered many of my pet peeves, but I'd like to add one more: If an opening lecture about an instructor's work includes the words "weaving in the 60's or 70's," "macrame," and/or "bog" jacket, it is time for a major overhaul because they just lost me! I much prefer an opening that launches into the topic at hand. It's not that we aren't interested in our instructors, but I'd rather take the time over the meal break to socialize and find out how they got started weaving.

I am glad you opened up this line of communication!

Posted on Wed, 03/13/2013 - 02:55

Sally,

Thank you for writing " I much prefer an opening that launches into the topic at hand."  I thought I was the only one - most weaving classes and seminars seem to start out that way...so much so that I thought it was required of teachers.  

 When I take a class I love written material and lectures full of usable information.    I am not a fan of most class discussions - I am there to get information.    But questions are important and I don't like the "hold your questions until the end statement."  Being a teacher is difficult - especially with students like me who expect too much!

I rarely take weaving classes or workshops anymore - - I am one of those people who learn better by reading - until I get stuck that is!

 

 

Posted on Wed, 03/13/2013 - 13:23

Personally, I believe weaving is an intuitive experience.  Never took a class and most likely never will....part of the fun is exploring this artform.

Posted on Wed, 03/13/2013 - 17:49

One of my students once told her friend, a prospective student, that I teach not only how to do something, but more importantly, why you do it.  I try to keep reminding myself not to skip that step.

 

Posted on Wed, 03/13/2013 - 20:15

I have tried teaching two adult beginning weavers and it proved to frustrating.  I spent at least two days with each of them, travelling to their homes, to show them how to wind a warp, had them complete the winding, helped them beam, showed them how to thread and sley and tie on for the second time, and left them to finish warping and weave the project.

Neither one of them worked very hard at finishing their first projects.  One had a simple scarf, the other plain weave placemats in sugar and cream heavy cotton that should have been completed in a few days.  Each time I checked up on them, the report was that they hadnt woven more than a few inches.  They were supposed to have woven those projects off and then put on a simple warp by themselves in order to be ready for a workshop in mid March.

I was frustrated, but tried not to show it.  I had to ask one of them three times to get the required information to the instructor.  They both dragged their feet ordering the workshop yarn.  Finally got the scarf weaver to order her yarn for the workshop, the other one waited until February, ignored my recommendation of where to purchase, and ordered from a company with 4 of the needed colors backordered.  I had to prompt her to order from another source (which I had to search out) and when she received the yarn she waited over a week to tell me so we could get the warp wound.  This warp is going to require a lot of color change and 400 warp ends, something neither of them would be ready to tackle themselves. As of last week, she hadnt finished her placemats and had the audacity to expect me to scramble around at the last minute to get her loom warped for this week's workshop.  I had specifically set a deadline for two weekends ago just to avoid this.  When I told her that I was busy this weekend and she would most likely not be able to get the warp done in time, she became rude and abusive and I have walked away.  She was getting the benefit of my years of classes and experience for free, showed no appreciation or inclination to put forth any effort, and I am very peeved, to put it mildly.

So, I will not be teaching again. 

Posted on Wed, 03/13/2013 - 20:21

People have such a romantic notion of what weaving is all about.  They don't realize that it is a physical skill for which you need to expend some time and energy learning how to do it.

I've been asked by a couple of local people to teach a beginning weaving 'workshop' and I find myself really dragging on getting something organized.  

Right now I really prefer to work with 'new' weavers, helping them refine their physical skills.  So much more rewarding.  

cheers,

Laura

Posted on Thu, 03/14/2013 - 02:15

Rest assured....those 'students', if left to their own devices, would not make one move on their own.  Focus on your own weaving and be a little selfish...it's really OK to do that! 

Posted on Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:01

Thanks for bringing this up. I do a lot of teaching weaving...at beginning, advanced beginning and intermediate levels. I find that the most important thing, especially when a student is starting out, is to develop an understanding of who the student is and how they learn. People learn in so many different ways and the way I teach to one person is going to be really different to how I teach to another-both in terms of how their motor skills work and also how information needs to be explained. I also find that students come to weaving for many different reasons and it's important to understand what those reasons are to help guide them. Plenty of my students are just checking it out and want to make something beautiful, but will never go out and buy a loom of their own. It took me a while to realize that that's not a failure on my part, and for those students, I will often give them more hands on help than others (like if they're really struggling with a certain step, I may just do it for them rather than trying to keep explaining it).

Each of my advanced beginning classes start with a ton of questions, but it's built into the format and my students know that coming in and learn from each others struggles. One of the challenges for me, when I go to teach somewhere else and don't know the students beforehand is figuring out where the group is coming from and what their needs are. In situations like that, at the beginning of class, I will sometimes go around and ask everyone for one question they have, which I am not necessarily going to answer. It's a way to get a sense of a group. That way, they're not sitting through a whole lot of information that isn't useful for them. And yes, having stunning and inspiring samples makes a big difference!

Posted on Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:33

I like that you recognize some students want to weave, but won't buy the loom and that's not failure on your part. Those students might go out and bring to you other students who DO want to learn all the parts of the process. 

And I like it when an instructor can read the group dynamic and adapt quickly. As guilds (and students), we tend to make that more and more difficult, because we ask our instructors to cram 3-5 day workshops & content into 2-3 days.

Posted on Thu, 03/14/2013 - 14:45

I accept students one or two at a time after showing them around our shop/studio and letting them discuss their goals and ambitions regarding fiber - this gives me a good indication of what loom type they'd be suited for at that particular point in time. I then develop a plan for them individually based on their tastes in fabrics, fibers and budget. Those with some experience start wherever they left off. My emphasis is on skill building and understanding the techniques involved.

I also "weed". I'm old enough to want to use my remaining years to create my own body of work and not continually set up looms so others can walk in and, for a "small" fee, copy my work. If I sense that the person likes the fabrics they see, but has no real interest in hunkering down to work through beginner difficulties to really learn to manipulate thread, it is a waste of both our time to continue. I have books and materials for simpler fiber pursuits that may be more satisfying to them. Learning to weave involves personal effort, willingness to complete assigned tasks, and come to a lesson - if not totally on time - on the appointed day. 

As for complaints on teaching "styles" that have become commonplace, I was brought up to understand that when a skilled person was willing to share knowledge - it was immaterial if the "method" was to MY liking, main thing, I was receiving good, correct and solid information.

Posted on Thu, 03/14/2013 - 17:08

Dena wrote, "One of the challenges for me, when I go to teach somewhere else and
don't know the students beforehand is figuring out where the group is
coming from and what their needs are."

I taught beginning weaving at a university near my home for 8 years. Then in 1991, I started teaching workshops for guilds and conferences in many places. At a big conference, it can be helpful to go around the room and hear the names and a bit of background because the students come from many places. But it takes lots of time if the group is not small. For the last decade or more, I have sent a questionnaire well ahead of the workshop. I collate the responses as they come in. I think this improves the workshop and I know it helps me. I really need most of the information before I can send a draft appropriate for that workshop loom and experience level. But it also gives me a look a the spread of experience levels, who uses weaving software, who has prior knowledge of certain structures I will cover, etc. I send a Word file attached to an email. We can still go around the room with names- last weekend they gave names and guild membership because about half the participants were guild members, with the rest coming from near and far. That didn't take too long. I had 16 participants and the topic is one I consider advanced.

I ask them what kind of loom(s) they use most of the time and how many shafts, then what kind of loom they plan to use at the workshop. If several people have 16-shaft looms at home and they use 8-shaft workshop looms, I know to include some drafts and woven examples for 16.

Bonnie Inouye

Posted on Fri, 03/15/2013 - 12:36

Yes, I've sent out questionnaires beforehand and find it useful, but generally for a longer workshop.  I'm talking about something shorter...when you've got a group for a half or full day and need a quick read.  Do you send out questionnaires for shorter programs?  When it's a large group, I don't do introductions, but do take a few random questions at the beginning (with the understanding that I am not necessarily going to answer them).

Posted on Fri, 03/15/2013 - 20:33

When I am asked to teach for a half-day, I try to include something about appropriate levels but of course I still get a wide range. Sometimes I ask a couple of questions for a show of hands in a large group. I've taught a morning class for the Boston guild and plenty of conference seminars but those are usually large groups. It can be tricky, you are right.

I remember teaching a seminar at Convergence in 1996 that was described as appropriate for weavers using 8 and more shafts. There were 100 people in the room! One woman raised her hand and said that she had no idea how I could use the tie-up to change the design because she always kept her treadles tied to lift one shaft per treadle. She used both feet when she wanted two shafts lifted. She was close enough to the front of the room that I could see she only had two legs. I remembered stating that this seminar was for weavers with 8 or more shafts. Oh, she owned an 8-shaft loom and used it, sure. Ah, I replied, but you have only used four of the 8 shafts, right? Yes!

Another time, my seminar assistant told me that he was happy to have signed up to help with this seminar. He hesitated to offer with an intermediate level topic, but said that now he has put his third warp on the loom so he is an intermediate! That taught me a lesson.

 

Posted on Sat, 03/16/2013 - 00:15

I have to agree with Sara's comment that when learning form a master if one really wants to learn the teaching techniique is irrelevant.  Of course one must have some knowledge of the subject.  I enteres weaving kind of backwards, I am a mechanical engineer and a local gave me a loom in a basket (literally) that had parts missing and they had given up on it.  I assembled the loom and having some rudimentary knowlege of how cloth was made I went ahead and warped the loom and ran a simple tabby fabric made out of the cheapest stuff I had: some sisal.  I still have that piece of sisal I wove and while it dosen't look like much to me it was the most intriguing thing I had ever done and I wanted kinwo more.  Since I didn't knwo what I didn't know I took a basic weaving class form a well known teacher in my area and the learning curve was so much steeper than I could have ever undertakin by myslef that when I was done with the semester I could weave wit understand a number of weaves and tichniques. I couldn't put a value on the speed with shich I advanced and the techniques I learned and left to my own devices I probably still would be working through half of them.  I have enjoyed visiting this site because some of the people here are outstanding weavers in their own right. There are a few hacks but they are so few as to not matter. I smile when I run across articles or books from Laura Fry, Bonnie Inouye, Laurie Autio, Tommye Scanlin and others because they feel like old friends. I had the pleasure to chat with Sally Orgren and many others on this site.  To think that I was going to quit this group on my second post because of Sara's comments (I need to work on my temper) and Sara is someone I've come to respect for her knwoledge from some of her posts! Teaching is tough work (I know I couldn't do it) but so is learning if someone really wants to learn :) Thanks for all your efforts in furthering the knowledge of weaving you certainly have furthered mine!

Regards,

Charles

Posted on Sun, 03/17/2013 - 01:05

who have made me the weaver I am, so I try and model what they have passed along to me. I want to have plenty of weaving buddies for the next 30 years — at least!!!

I have also experienced Bonnie and Sara for instruction. Both are very knowledgeable and delivered well prepared programs. I really appreciate they provide content for more advanced weavers. There are a lot of beginner instructors out there, but when you truly become an intermediate weaver, the selection slims down quickly. FYI, Laura, you are on my bucket list...

And Slipstream — I am still appreciating those rods tremendously! I just warped that loom again over Christmas with 8 yards of dishtowels. 

Posted on Sun, 03/17/2013 - 14:13

I, too, was brought up to respect authority no matter how it presented itself, and when I was a new teacher, that was what I expected. I was very disappointed to discover that my students did not learn well that way, whether I was teaching a class of 120 undergraduates or 12 PhD students. I do not need my students to "like" me or the content I teach (philosophy of science, urg; qualitative research, urg two times). But I do want them to come away with an increased respect for the material, and for learning in general, and that respect must be earned every day. It is not the case that there are no stupid questions ("Will this be on the final?" for example), but it is the case that any learner can be made to feel stupid. When I do that, I have missed a teachable moment and made such moments less likely to recur. 

I don't want to get into a culture wars thing here - weaving teachers, unlike university professors, are only accountable to themselves and can behave in the classroom however they like, and then the students can choose whether to pursue weaving or go play tennis or whatever. But weaving teachers who are committed to excellence should, in my opinion, care as much about being excellent teachers as they do about being excellent weavers, and that requires an application of effort to the discipline of teaching. 

Thanks for engaging on this topic, 

Agnes

Posted on Sun, 03/17/2013 - 15:32

Yes, Sally, it is important to get guild members to share what they have learned.  Our guild has been very successful at this.  When someone has learned something, either from attending a conference or workshop or by studying on their own, our guild tries to make a very comfortable invironment for them to pass on what they have learned. Who knows, one of them might become a great teacher and go on to do more teaching.  With the increased interest in weaving and guilds getting a lot of new beginners, we will need more weaving teachers. 

Joanne

Posted on Mon, 03/18/2013 - 21:57

There are no schools on weaving in my location in Ct. Or at least none I can afford to go to being retired and my spending profile winding down not ramping up.   But books , Videos and youtube vids have been invaluble to me in learning to weave. I would just love to be able to go to an art guild or weaving guild for lessons but ... no such luck... but I have taught myself to paint ,to play a few musical instruments and love to learn all the time.

Posted on Mon, 03/18/2013 - 22:44

Hi Sally,

I hope we can meet some day.  :)

cheers,

Laura

just returned from Fort St John to more snow, although it looks like spring is trying to sprung...

 

Posted on Tue, 03/19/2013 - 03:03

I completed my first inkle weaving class last fall. I had three students and all were successful in completing the objectives of the class. Two of the three have purchased their own inkle looms - I consider that a success. I'm gearing up for another class in a couple of weeks. I have 7 students on the books (a limit of 10). I will have a mother/daughter duo in the class and I am anticipating certain challenges as the mother is an ESL (English as a 2nd language). This lady and I have been friends for several years and she helps me with my Spanish and I help her with her English. Yet I am concerned about how this will affect the classroom setting. Has anyone worked in this environment before? Any suggestions?

Posted on Tue, 03/19/2013 - 15:03

Agnes, you make some excellent suggestions for weaving teachers.

I've done some university teaching (in geology) and weaving teaching. There are really big differences between the groups. The university students, whether undergraduate or graduate students, were a relatively homogeneous bunch. They had a small age span, most of them had been in school more or less continuously since they were small children, and they had a reasonably common background in the classes they had taken. Usually an experienced professor was helping them vet their class choices so that would not take classes which they were not ready for, or classes which were too simple. Further, over the years they had self-selected or been selected to have a more limited range of learning styles. They were capable, through practice, inclination, and this sorting, to be able to take in large amounts of material rapidly in a lecture and reading format.

I've been teaching weaving for nearly 20 years and it is a very different set of students and circumstances. Organizers often severely limit the class descriptions and teacher bios making it difficult for students to select appropriate classes and teaching styles. Often their prior experience is so scattered that they don't know what they know or don't know. The terms beginning, advanced beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels mean very different things to different people. If you try to be more specific ("must know how to do a profile draft") you will run into people who don't know what the words mean (thinking a threading draft and a profile draft are the same thing), or that they can learn the prerequisite on the fly as they are taking this too advanced topic. In other words, no consistency of terms, no vetting of students, and little information to improve the situation.

Weaving students have usually been out of school for a while, often a very long while. Most are not used to taking in lots of information quickly and processing it efficiently. There is absolutely no consistency of experience or terminology. People generally have picked up information at random through undirected reading, unconnected classes, unvetted web information, etc. It's often been over-simplified to fit space requirements, make it pretty,  or to reach the largest, lowest common denominator (aka increase sales).

Weavers have a far larger range of learning styles and are spread more evenly through them than what you might find in a university setting. For example, you will run across a much larger fraction of kinetic learners, who need to do it to learn it (that is, weave examples). Among the visual learners, there are those who can learn well from written descriptions and others who need to see drafts and diagrams, or watch a demonstration or video. Age is also something of a factor, particularly in memory skills. An average student age of 60 is quite different from an average age of 20-30. Older students tend to ask more questions, be less accepting of the authority of the teacher, and be more chatty. They may be dealing with extremely stressful health or family issues, or be very lonely. It makes for a really different class situation.

Then, we have the variability of the teachers. Unlike university professors, who usually have a demonstrated, documented by degree, and peer-reviewed competency, weaving teachers are all over the place. Often there are no requirements needed to teach weaving. I've seen shops hire beginning weavers to teach beginning weaving. Sometimes the shop didn't know any better or there weren't more advanced choices, and sometimes it was because the inexperienced teachers would work for peanuts. Guilds often foster brand new teachers (very important!) but it means that the classes may be quite uneven. A good weaving teacher may teach a dozen classes a year at guilds, or perhaps several dozen, but they will not build up the hours of teaching experience the way a professor teaching 3 sessions of 3 classes every week of the school year does. The challenges and very low rates of pay tend to burn teachers out fairly rapidly.

So, as a weaving teacher outside a university or school setting, when you walk into a room, it is generally a new, unknown, extremely variable group. With some questions and a little experience you can size it up to some degree and adjust your presentation on the fly. You'll need to have more ways of trying to reach the different learning styles and levels. You'll need to develop some firmness to keep it on track enough to cover the subject, and still hit some interesting side points as they come up. While goats may be fascinating, I don't want to spend half my designing for block weaves class on them, nor do I want to spend significant time teaching people pre-requisites as that will prevent me from covering the topic at hand. Usually I try to gently redirect those discussions to a break, or offer private help during my breaks or lunch.

As a result of all these issues, I started a series of classes for advanced weavers where I have the same group for 60 hours a year, several years in a row. This allows me to get to know the group (backgrounds, personalities, learning styles) and build a common base of knowledge so we can get much farther than in a guild, shop, or conference talk. I still enjoy doing those, but the on-going classes are really fun. We have lots of built-in, scheduled discussion and sharing time, and I find I learn as much from these masters as they do from me.

No teacher, no matter how good, will suit everyone. Not every teacher is good. Most of us have off days occasionally. A teacher who fits you at the beginning of your weaving may not be as good a fit later - but someone else will be. Knowing something about yourself as a student (I like fast, information-filled lectures with good handouts and not much hands on or demo, for example) or as a teacher will help make good matches. Learning from your mistakes is important, too! Whether you are the student or teacher, tolerance, respect, and a healthy sense of humor will help.

Laurie Autio, learning to teach as I go

Posted on Tue, 03/19/2013 - 17:04

I really enjoyed reading your post. You have certainly defined many of the variables in the learning enviroment. I've run into many of the types of students you describe and much of a class dynamic depends on the constitutents. 

I've had many years of school plus many more years of continuing education requirements to fulfil.  I usually just want the information I need or to complete necessary time requirements.  Even in professional development classes one runs into many of the students you describe. I believe it takes a special person to teach, I know becuase I don't have the patience and temper to teach and I have a great deal of respect for those who do. Thank you for your insights and especially thank you for your teaching!

Best regards, Charles

Posted on Tue, 03/19/2013 - 17:23

Hi Laurie,

I agree with your assessment of the things that go into teaching weaving.  Every workshop, every guild/group is a learning situation for me (as the teacher) to try and figure out the group dynamics (most of the participants already know each other very well) and how each person best needs to learn.  Sometimes it's fairly easy, sometimes it's more difficult.  It's always interesting.  :)

cheers,

Laura

Posted on Tue, 03/19/2013 - 23:30

Of course you are all quite correct about the goats being a diversion and we were not on task, but there are ways and ways of bringing people back to the work at hand, as I am sure you know.

Teaching is hard. Teaching weaving is hard in a different way from teaching philosophy of science but both demand content mastery, focused attention, empathy, and skill with group dynamics. I know there are great weaving teachers on this site - some with natural ability, some who had to work at it, most who combine the two.  How nice if we can all learn from you, not only about weaving but about teaching, and I will go talk to the goat lady over coffee.

Regards,

Agnes

Posted on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 01:03

Twenty years ago, the Vermont Weaver's Guild ran a two year program designed to teach weavers to teach weaving.  It was fabulous and a few of us who took part in it are still around teaching.  Even though we were experienced weavers, the instructor started at the beginning since she wanted to be sure we were all proficient at technique.  In the second year she covered such things as, "How to Prepare a Presentation" and "Resources for Figuring out What you Don't Know But your Students Want to Know".  Great investment in the future of weaving.

Posted on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 01:03

Twenty years ago, the Vermont Weaver's Guild ran a two year program designed to teach weavers to teach weaving.  It was fabulous and a few of us who took part in it are still around teaching.  Even though we were experienced weavers, the instructor started at the beginning since she wanted to be sure we were all proficient at technique.  In the second year she covered such things as, "How to Prepare a Presentation" and "Resources for Figuring out What you Don't Know But your Students Want to Know".  Great investment in the future of weaving.

Posted on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 12:04

Laura, your comment on groups knowing each other well reminded me of another helpful factor. I've taught workshops at a few guilds where the group was particularly nurturing and close-knit or knowledgeable about the potential difficulties in teaching. They used the strength of the group to make sure everything ran well. Their contributions were extremely helpful. Here are some examples:

Some groups get together before a workshop to get the looms ready. They are able to discretely help the less experienced weavers and the older weavers who need some physical assistance get their looms ready. It can also be used as a way to ensure that the chronically unprepared (every group has them) are ready by class, and to fill in any missing looms from people who had to drop out at the last moment. They check all the looms to be sure they are threaded correctly and working properly (a huge plus). Adding a potluck, some wine, and a lot of laughter makes it a real bonding event for the group.

I've run across a few groups that have people with known difficulties (physical, mental, or emotional) and discretely assign each of those weavers a "mentor" (with or without their knowledge) who helps out as needed without fuss. Or, it might be a newer weaver that they know will be very challenged by the class placed next to an old hand who is there just to pick up a few new tips or see how the topic is taught. Sometimes I am told this is happening, and sometimes I can figure it out. It makes the class run much smoother.

The group's workshop coordinator can make a real difference in knowing what you are walking into or assigning warps. Like Bonnie, I try to ask questions before, and the coordinator can help either with distributing the questions or providing answers. For example, it is helpful to know that one weaver has threading dyslexia so I don't give her a complex threading even if she is a more advanced weaver. Or that someone has only worked with wool or has a rickety table loom and should not get the fine linen warp. Or, that a certain weaver often has to drop out at the last minute and should not get the most critical warp.

As Laura said, every group is different and every one is a learning experience for the teacher. It can be a lot of fun, occasionally frustrating, but always interesting.

Laurie Autio

Posted on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 12:18

Dena, I wish I had been able to take this class - it has a very high reputation among the New England weavers twenty years later.

In my class for advanced weavers we do cover some of these topics along the way. My group is not focussed only on teachers, but they all get a chance to prepare and present talks, with some guidelines for presentations and handouts. Many of these talks then "go on the road" to other guilds or conferences, become articles, and/or the basis for further study. We just had a presentation day - six talks on wildly diverse subjects, with very different approaches to teaching, and all fascinating. For me, it was a treat to watch - almost like being at a good conference for a day. I'll be talking privately with them to discuss how it went and where they might go with it.

I'd love to see more long-term, in-depth classes offered around the country. There are some, but not many.

Laurie Autio

Posted on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 12:22

weaver I have followed this discussion with interest. I have been lucky in my short (about a year and a half) weaving life to have been blessed with good, nurturing teachers. I think teaching a skill like weaving takes a special person who has more than just knowledge and skill. Reading the comments here I think I would feel comfortable being in classes with any of you. Thank you for being there to help out those who are just learning to weave and those who want to expand their weaving experience. Even though I have only taken a class from one of you (thank you Joanne) I have learned so much in reading this thread! Thank you for giving of your time and knowledge.

Tina

Tina

Posted on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 13:08

Way back on this thread someone mentioned that they didn't appreciate teachers who would straighten shelves or magazines, do paperwork, etc. while in class.

Don't be fooled!  We are just looking busy so we can unobtrusively observe your technique.  Shuttle handling, threading, beating, etc.  If we were standing at your elbow, you would not behave the same as you would when relaxed and working on your own.

Just thought you'd like to know...

Posted on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 13:11

But you'd have to be in the same room with the class for this to work, right? Or at least within earshot?

Posted on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 14:37

Hi Tina,

You are so fortunate to be so close to Homestead Fiber Crafts.  Of all the places I have taught, those weavers are the most supportive of their students and each other.  It is the perfect learning experience.  I look forward to my next visit.

Joanne

Posted on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 23:01

As sequel mentioned, teachers who 'helicoptor' can be more of a distraction!  So I also have other things that I do so that I am not constantly at someone's elbow.  That is not to say that I don't see what is happening.  Just that sometimes I choose not to interfere and let the students help each other or discuss finer points amongst themselves.  :)

That just happened on the weekend where two of the students accepted the challenge to design their own motif (Lace weave workshop) and while I observed and listened, I tried not to interject but let them explore on their own.  When I saw that they were starting to get confused I asked a couple of questions based on the information given during the lecture portions of the workshop but did not give them the answer, just confirming the correct one when they got it.

A good teacher will not tell you how to see but will show you where to look.  (I don't remember who said that, but I think it's true!)  ;)

cheers,

Laura