Instructor Interviews Series: Tips for New Teachers

Instructor Interviews #2 Teachers' Tips For New Teachers - Pinterest - Marjie Kemper's blog

Welcome to Installment #2 of my new 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 installment here: Instructor Interviews Series, Post #1:  What Teachers Love About Teaching.

Instructor Interviews Series, Post #2

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?

Let's dig into the Instructor Interview Series today with my second question.

Question #2:  What tips do you have for someone who's just starting out teaching?

Amy Porterfield
Amy Porterfield (Online Marketing)

“One of the things that helped me a lot was that creating my own framework and my own roadmaps. I put together content in a way that made it very original for me. I teach a concept and give it a name (I love to give a good name to anything) and teach it in a way that is unique to my own teaching style so that the student could say “Oh, that is the Phillip formula process and here is how Amy does it.”

I like giving names to things and creating a process, a system, a roadmap, a formula that is unique to me.  Making your content unique to you, especially when you are teaching in such a very busy market like I am teaching in… it's important that you own it that way. That’s one thing I have done since the very beginning.”

Anita Houston

Anita Houston (Mixed Media Art)

“Don't make things too complicated. Take it slow and always give students the time to complete the project. Never show frustration towards a student for any reason.  Be calm.”

Becka Rahn

Becka Rahn (Fiber Arts)

“Be 200% prepared. I always have thought about 10 minutes I can cut from the class and I have planned 20 minutes of an extra bonus lesson. You never know when you will have too many questions or students who are speed-demons and you will need to adjust something on the fly. So I always think about it ahead of time.”

Brenda Brown

Brenda Brown (Mixed Media Art)

“Prepare well, have tips and tricks up your sleeve to share during the session and get round the class praising, advising and suggesting alternatives to each individual. Make it a personal experience for every student so they feel they have got a lot from that experience.”

Carole Lyles Shaw

Carole Lyles Shaw (Modern Quilting)

“Practice!  And Practice again!  Find a group of friends who will take your workshop for free so that you can practice exactly how you will run it. Treat them just like you would students from a guild that is paying you to teach.  Make sure the students commit to being real students and giving you honest feedback. If you need a workshop space, see if you can reserve a room at your local library—it’s usually free.

Know your worth.  Set your workshop and lecture fees and stick to them.  Set and communicate clear and reasonable expectations on what students will FINISH in your class.   Make sure they leave with all the information they need to complete the project at home.

Limit the personal anecdotes—get to the instructional content quickly.  I’ve had instructors who spent what seemed like hours telling us all about their life at home, people they know in the quilt world, etc.”

Carolyn Dube

Carolyn Dube (Mixed Media Art)

“Think about the student.  It's all about them.”

Cat Kerr

Cat Kerr (Mixed Media Art)

“My suggestion to a new teacher is just to plan, plan, plan. Once the class begins and the planning is done, sit back, go with the flow and enjoy the process.”

Cheryl Boglioli

Cheryl Boglioli (Mixed Media Art)

“Create workshops that are teachable. Realize that not all projects are teaching-friendly.

Consider whether To Kit or Not To Kit. I started teaching classes where I provided kits for each student – that was a lot of  my time ($$$) that was involved and sometimes the time of friends and family. Now, I try to create workshops that do not require me to create student kits.”

Cielo de la Paz

Cielo de la Paz (Videography)

“I say to keep it simple and not to assume that your students know the basics. Often students start from the very beginning, and terms that we are familiar with is something completely new to them. It’s easy to try and impress and show that you know a lot, but often it works against you.”

Deborah Boschert

Deborah Boschert (Art Quilting)

“My tip for teachers just starting out is to have a really comprehensive handout for the workshop. It provides excellent value to the students. It acts as a reference so if a student needs clarification, you can direct them to the handout. It's a place where you can add extra information including all your social media contacts and other product resources. It also acts as a back up in case you forget to say something. Don't feel obligated to put everything in the handout, but make it a useful document.”

Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu (Internet Advertising & Digital Marketing)

“Make sure you've documented exactly how you do what you do, step-by-step, driven by a checklist so precise than anyone can follow the recipe to yield the same results. We call this #LDT, for learn>do>teach. So many will attempt to teach without having first done something many times reliably.”

Dyan Reaveley

Dyan Reaveley (Art Journaling)

“However long it takes you to make the class, multiply that by three because things always take a lot longer then you’ve planned. Also develop a thick skin as some people won’t like you or your project. You need to get over it and remember there's nothing wrong with you and your project.”

Elaine LutherElaine Luther (Assemblage Sculpture)

“Write lesson plans! You’ll forget stuff!  To be a good teacher is a whole practice in itself. You must continue to take classes, observe what those teachers do well and less well. It is essential to take at least one class per year in something you are not an expert at, so that you remember what it is like to be in class and be afraid, as a beginner. How can you address that fear in your classes? How can you create a safe and supportive environment for students?

Think of everything. Prevent supply-based bottlenecks in your classroom. Will everyone need scissors at the same time? Buy more scissors. On the other side, if there’s a process that requires your supervision, don’t allow more work stations than you can handle. Limit those.”

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer (Mixed Media Art)

“Be flexible. Be confident. Be fun. Pass on all of the information that you can possibly cram into class time. Don't hold your “secrets” back.”

Seth Apter

Seth Apter (Mixed Media Art)

Be yourself. Bring your passion for creativity and be willing to share that with your students. Be confident. Encourage true creativity by allowing the students to go in their own directions (within reasonable limits).

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My online course called Teaching Your Passion™ is a self-study program that walks you through all the steps needed to teach both live classes and online classes, including how to film yourself.  It's everything I wish I'd known when I started teaching my passion nationwide and online many years ago.  It's a super detailed roadmap for teaching live and online courses.  Check it out here.

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Wrap Up & Thanks!

Well, there you have it! Do you find this Instructor Interviews Series interesting? I want to thank all of these instructors for taking the time to share their perspective on Question #2.  Lots of great suggestions for new teachers. Find out more about each one by clicking their names to go to their websites.

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Thanks for the visit!



  1. Julie Filatoff on May 17, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    Marjie, thank you for this series! I teach art and the two installments so far have been excellent.

    • Marjie Kemper on May 19, 2018 at 11:56 am

      Glad you found it useful, Julie! More to come.

  2. Anita Houston on April 19, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Love reading the tips, and seeing new teachers I didn’t know…thanks for that, and thanks especially for inviting me along!!!

  3. Tracy Evans on April 19, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Loved reading these and wonderful tips and advice. Thank you. Tracy ❤️

    • Marjie Kemper on April 20, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Thanks, Tracy! Glad you found it useful.

  4. Brenda Brown on April 19, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Wow some great tips even for experienced teachers – thanks for including me in your series Marjie xxx

    • Marjie Kemper on April 20, 2018 at 9:33 am

      Glad you were part of it, Brenda. Thanks for sharing your insights!