TO TEACH OR NOT TO TEACH?
By Margaret Riley
How many classes have you taken? I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken enough to qualify for a college degree! But with every class, you are learning more techniques and your experience level rises. Isn’t it time that you turn the tables? There are so many people who want to paint but think they can’t! YOU can change this! Remember when you first started painting how intimidated you were by that paintbrush? With determination, you started to relax and enjoy painting. Those first few teachers taught you so much, and maybe it is time for you to start teaching others. Oh, the painting knowledge that you have gained through every class you have taken!! You can remain a student forever or you can teach. Now is the time to step forward.
Why not start teaching at a local community center or a senior center? You’ll need to schedule a day and time. Before you speak with the person in charge, have a few of your painted projects ready to present to show your talent. And most importantly, have the class project ready to present. Make the first project geared toward beginners so people will see that they can do it…not a landscape with detailed buildings and waterfalls! But maybe a tropical sunset or a simple daisy. Once the location and date are secured, start advertising with a photo of the class project on a flyer.
Before class, you’ll need the pattern and instructions ready for the day of the class. If the students are to bring their own supplies, be sure the list is ready for them in plenty of time before the class. If you are supplying everything, get things put together at least a week before the class. You will be glad you did when the class day arrives.
Class day is here, and you are in front of the class, not in a seat watching the teacher. Nervous? I found that as long as I held a paintbrush, I was calm to start the class. Introduce yourself and show excitement to all the students, plus express to them how thrilled you are that they are taking this class. I like to do “theory teaching”, which is having a step shown first and then having the student doing it. Some struggle to keep up. Keep an eye on them and maybe stop showing a step for those few to catch up. Suggest a small break and assist those struggling.
If a student is struggling, I will intervene and ask if they would like to have some help. (I never just grab their brush and do it for them!) Many students almost knock me down rendering their chair to me to have me rescue them before they create a mess. I don’t criticize EVER but give soft suggestions that they might want to try. I encourage them all to continue and do not give up. I try to add some humor and possibly share a funny painting story with them. (The only thing I do ask is that they put their cell phones on vibrate, and if they do need to take the call to step outside of the classroom.) I have to say that I never, ever thought that I would be teaching, but I’ve had wonderful people in my class! It just took courage and convincing myself that I could do it. I’ve met so many wonderful up-and-coming painters. One of my former students even writes articles for me these days (and she is teaching!)! I can’t imagine where I would be today not having taught a class. So, YOU CAN DO IT! YES, YOU CAN! Go conquer your fears and share your talent! I leave you with big hugs of encouragement!