Whom teaches who?
By Riki Schumacher
When asked by one of the amazingly talented contributors to Love My Art Jewelry blog, to write a post
as a guest artist, it was kind of a struggle to think about to say. What inspires me, what story might be
interesting to you about my life as an artist?
A journey, or an opportunity, or maybe a process, were fabulous suggestions. And after this recent
weekend’s experience of teaching, it flashed on me that I could write about all those things, and hopefully
you will find it useful.
I would like to share little insight about the “journey“of going from student…to instructor, and what I
learned from it.
Here are some pictures from this weekend’s class I taught with another instructor.
I hope the pictures speak a thousand words. Teaching is amazing!
Here’s a mom and daughter team.
Making new friends.
How have any of these students gained by taking this workshop?
I don’t know what each one did for sure. But from these smiles, they were having a ball. I can share what
I took away. Each and every time I teach, I am reminded of how important it is to “pay it forward”. After
about 12 years of traveling, taking workshops, and soaking up every blessed word I could from endless
instructors, it is finally a wonderful time to give back to this amazing industry. Making Art Jewelry is my
passion and teaching it is incredibly rewarding.
After taking classes with lots of instructors, you start to have your favorites, and your not so favorites.
From each class you have taken, did you walk away feeling the teacher was impartial? Did you learn
what you hoped to, in numerous ways? Did you have a blast? Were you disappointed for some reason?
Or were there too many students so you never got the attention and help you needed after traveling and
laying out much money?
I have had all of these things happen to me. And now, since teaching a couple years now, I try to reflect
on how my instructors shared, and how giving they were/are. I’m trying to learn from what I think were
their mistakes, which didn’t happen often. We are in an interesting and opportune period I think, this
day and age. There are thousands of baby boomers retiring every day, and given an opportunity to seek
out what they want to do in their leisure. I understand many students are not retired, and have limited
time to access classes. But, there are a lot of women, and men, following their passion from their youth,
whether they are retired or not. That means there are more opportunities to teach. That’s why it is really
important, to me, to get it right. After retiring from my profession of 20 years, I ran to the nearest jewelry
workshop I could find! I felt like a little sponge, soaking up every word that was fed in, and wanted to
master every technique I could wrap my little brain around.
So if you are a teacher now, or considering a career in instructing to the craft world, the main thing I
would like to stress is how rewarding it is. I learn so much from each class I teach. I gain as much, or
more, than the students. I am so grateful that each student has put their trust in me for one or two days,
and I know that they expect me to deliver as advertised. Each person in a class, paid good hard-earned
money to learn what techniques I promised to share. And not only learn techniques, but be made to feel
welcome and have fun. How can you possibly live up to all the expectations of each student?
After all the classes I’ve taken, and all the instructors I have learned from, as well as my history as an
instructor, here is my two cents on a little recipe for success in teaching. A little dash of each, leads to a
fabulous gourmet class!
you can’t be perfect, stop trying
If you listen as much as you talk, you will answer all their questions. I often tell my grand
daughter, open your ears and shut your mouth. She doesn’t but that’s okay, she hears it!
If you are having fun, they will. You set the tone of the class.
If you are practiced and honed your craft, you can demonstrate each technique with ease,
and explain it well.
If you believe in what you are doing, they will share the passion. Be sincere in your intentions.
And don’t act like you are perfect. You are going to make mistakes so embrace them. We all learn
from mistakes, and who needs the added pressure?
And for people taking workshops who are reading this, let your instructor know what they did right, and
where they really kicked it in. Feedback is so important, we will learn from that, hopefully!
This can be a successful recipe for on line and e-workshops workshops as well. As an instructor, you can
bring all these elements to your students on line. You just can’t reach out and touch them. But you can
share equally, and deliver the same quality of teaching as if you were there in person.
Look at yourself; look at the way you instruct.
Would you want to take your class??
Happy instructing. And have fun attending workshops. Have fun doing what ever you do.
You really never know if you’ll be here tomorrow.
Love and hugs,
you can learn more about Riki in these places:
etsy shop (where you will also find tutorials)