Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The teacher... tapestry mostly

I love weaving tapestry. I hope that much is obvious.

I also love teaching. I have been a teacher in one form or another for most of my life. My younger sister and I played "school" when we were kids*, my undergraduate degree was in music with a focus on piano pedagogy**, and my graduate degree and 17-year career was in occupational therapy. That is in-the-trenches kind of teaching in every sort of situation you can think of.*** There has been plenty of continuing education since then in teaching practices, but the actual work and feedback from students is the best instruction.

I love the two sorts of teaching I do now. The online courses are wonderful. I have the luxury of focusing on one student at a time without interruption. I love watching someone progress over months. Initial stumbles and frustration slowly move into a little confidence and finally to work they are proud of.

I will also admit that I love developing curriculum. I've learned a lot from my students and have a lot more to learn. Nothing I do is static. It changes and becomes better all the time. When a module isn't clear to someone, I make extra videos and handouts until they understand it... and eventually the whole thing is updated.

I also love teaching workshops. The chaos of twelve or sixteen people all interested in different results, all with different questions, and the challenge of moving all of them through a body of material I am prepared to teach in a few days is exhilarating... and exhausting. But I won't stop teaching workshops because I learn so much there. (I am particularly excited about the workshop line-up for next year and I can't wait to tell you all about it! But it'll be a few more months.)

Sometimes the stress of teaching online while developing new courses is pretty high. Right now I'm working as hard as I've ever worked to finish an online version of Color Gradation Techniques for Tapestry. I have taught this class in workshops for years and somehow I thought I could just basically teach a three-day workshop in front of my video camera and be done. Ha! Nothing could be farther from the truth. I should have known better. It took me over a year to make Warp and Weft: Learning the Structure of Tapestry (my beginning techniques course) and that is about how long I've been working on this course.

I'm the kind of person who likes to tackle big projects. This is dangerous when creating something out of my head because I tend to make things rather large. Those of you who have taken all of Warp and Weft online understand that I am like this. I can't just leave some particular explanation out. I have to weave it into a video or draw a diagram or somehow include it because someone is going to need that information.

This isn't always the best way to teach. There are people who like things shorter. Neat packages. In and out in a few tight videos.

So in converting the Color Gradation Techniques class to an online version, I have done both things. It will be offered in one large course. That is for those of you who are like me. Who want to dive into something big, revel in the commitment, and find yourself somewhere entirely different after you've put in the work of the entire class. You all are my soulmates and this one is for you.

For those of you who want the neater packages, I will also offer the class in another way. There are six modules and each one will be offered as a separate class. This has added a lot of time to my completion of the course as I'm now working on making each of those modules stand alone.

So know that I'm working as hard as I can. Some of you have been waiting oh-so-patiently for many months now. It will be ready in (she takes a deep breath) ... September. I promise. I will announce the opening date in my newsletter on 9/3/15. (Sign up HERE if you don't already get it!)

PS. Warp and Weft: Learning the Structure of Tapestry, my beginning tapestry techniques course starts again September 14th. You can find more information and a registration link HERE. Don't worry, you can take it in three separate parts and there are no due dates. You can take five years to work through the material if you want to!
* I might have even let her be the teacher sometimes, you'd have to ask her.
** I wrote a preschool piano method as an honors thesis for goodness sake. It seemed ground-breaking at the time. People didn't teach three-year-olds to play the piano. It was 1994 and the computer graphics program I had to use was limited to basic shapes and text. You can image what it looked like. (Nevertheless, magna cum laude!!!)
*** New SCI (spinal cord injury) in the ICU? Been there. Rancho Level IV head injury in a 35-year-old on a locked unit with fifty friends and family members all individually wanting to know when she can get back to her job as a lawyer? Been there. Non-verbal autistic kid whose parents don't want "special" classrooms for their daughter but want her to function exactly like her classmates in the regular first-grade (and second and third and sixth-grade) classroom? Been there. The stories go on forever... or at least seventeen years.
Teaching Color Gradation Techniques for Tapestry in a live workshop in Michigan.

1 comment:

  1. Well, Rebecca, in my book, you are an Angel. The answer to my prayers and I'm sure many others like me. As much as I hope to take a workshop with you in person someday, these on line courses are a life saver. You were born to be a teacher that is obvious. So thank you for all the hours you put in to teach us in person or on line. You are appreciated and loved.


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