Welcome to the fourth installment of my Instructor Interviews Series. My interests vary between artistic endeavors and online courses, so I’ve reached out to a number of experts in both arenas to ask their thoughts on a variety of teaching issues. You can see the first three installments here: Previous Instructor Interviews.
Instructor Interviews Series, Post #4
The people interviewed in this series teach a wide variety of classes on content such as Art Journaling, Art Quilting, Assemblage Sculpture, Digital Marketing, Embroidery, Facebook Advertising, Fiber Arts, Internet Advertising, Jewelry Making, Knitting, Mixed Media Art, Modern Quilting, Online Marketing, Paper-Pieced Quilting, Sewing, and Videography. How’s that for a super group of creative categories?
Question #4: What's the most common obstacle your students seem to face in class?
Amy Porterfield (Online Marketing)
“People getting to the finish line. The part that I play into that is encouraging them to mark their calendars and build out time to dive into the program. Be consistent with it and ask questions in my private Facebook group when they get stuck. Meet me on the live Q and A once a week for troubleshooting. I give them the tools and the habits that they need, but it is up to them to do it. I can only go so far to help them get to the finish line. The biggest obstacle is that they have to have discipline to show up, do the work, and get questions answered when needed. That is a huge obstacle with an online course. You have to have massive discipline in order to make it work.”
Becka Rahn (Fiber Arts)
“Beginner syndrome. They always want to be perfect at something at the first try and they really don’t want to give themselves permission to be bad at it. I always talk about remembering when you learned to ride a bike. You fell over, you wobbled, you struggled. You have to do that with every new thing. It’s hard to get them to just play and try things.”
Brenda Brown (Mixed Media Art)
“I think generally for a lot of people their lack of experience or confidence in what they are doing. Many enjoy the process but they don’t view themselves as competent artists/crafters, they want to ‘copy’ your sample exactly and then feel disappointed when it’s not an exact likeness. I can understand the need to copy. It is indeed one of the best ways to learn something new. Most people after a period of time will start to feel more confident and then take more risks in mixing things up to make it their own. It is important to understand that process and help our students through it so they feel successful and ready to take the next step.”
Carole Lyles Shaw (Modern Quilting)
I teach modern quilting and many of my students have limited exposure to contemporary or modern quilting. Many students have trouble selecting colors and prints that work in a modern quilt design. That’s why I encourage them to bring lots of possibilities and then I help them make final selections at the start of the workshop. Those who may be disappointed with their project are the ones who only bring small amounts of a limited set of fabrics. After they see what others are doing, they can get discouraged. However, I try to coach them on how to expand the fabric selection when they get home. Usually, they have enough to get started.”
Carolyn Dube (Mixed Media Art)
“Self doubt and/or perfectionism. It is magical when that gets quieted down and students fully embrace the joy in colorful play. ”
Cheryl Boglioli (Mixed Media Art)
“The most common obstacle is when they want to create the exact same project that the teacher created or their neighbor is creating. I try to create classes that allow the students to choose their own personal colors of paint or their own style of stencil to encourage individual creativity.”
Dyan Reaveley (Art Journaling)
“Lack of confidence and fear of doing something wrong.”
Jill Wolcott (Knitting)
“Feeling intimidated and not engaging fully.
Inability to focus ~ being too busy.
Julie Fei-Fan Balzer (Mixed Media Art)
“Letting go of expectations. It's hard. We all want to make pretty things. But class should be a place that you come ready to fail and make messes and allow the teacher to help you along that path.”
Kaz Hall (Mixed Media Art)
“I think one of the main obstacles is self-belief and confidence. I get a lot of students that say “I don't think mine will look like that!” or “Mine's rubbish!” It's my job to give them the confidence, the knowledge, and the belief that they can and they will achieve the end goal.”
Nat Kalbach (Mixed Media Art)
“I have been quoting this for years in my class: ‘Nothing screws us up more than the perfect picture in our head.' Some students have a tougher time than others to let go of the “perfect picture” but it usually is an obstacle that they overcome with the progress of the class. ”
Seth Apter (Mixed Media Art)
“Their own lack of confidence and willingness to both push past the early layers (for fear of ruining what they have) and going to artistic places outside their comfort zone.”
Sue O’Very (Sewing & Embroidery)
“To relax and enjoy themselves. I find most of us stitchers tend to be perfectionists. We want our first to be our best. It's nice to remember when sewing a project the first time, it's sorta like making a recipe the first time. It might taste great but it might not look like the picture. I also always remind my students the first project might take 2 hours but the second might only take 30 minutes. There is a new and exciting learning curve for every project you make. Remember to enjoy the process and not be anxious about the end results. ”
Teaching Your Passion™ Course
If teaching interests you, check out my online course called Teaching Your Passion™. I've structured it carefully and included everything I wish I’d known when I started teaching mixed media art many years ago. I've designed it as a detailed roadmap for teaching live and online courses. I cover dozens of topics including pitching class ideas, getting hired, self-hosting online courses, creating videos, contract negotiations, and more. Read more about it including some student testimonials here.
Wrap Up & Thanks!
I hope you're finding this Instructor Interviews Series valuable. There are three more posts coming, since I asked seven questions in all. I want to thank these instructors for taking the time to share their perspective on Question #4. While many similar obstacles were shared, we must remember each student coming to class is an individual.
Find out more about each instructor quoted by clicking their names to go to their websites.
Keep in Touch
Thanks for the visit!