Jean Schroderus wrote this article for The Rug Maker back in 2007 and it is well worth a read and note how important preparation for a class is for both Student and Teacher. I recently taught a class when one student clearly hadn't read about the class and was a tad bit disgruntled and was quite rude to me.
Over the past few years, there seems to be an ever increasing interest in rug making. It is no longer fuelled by necessity and has become a popular hobby and art form unto itself. Recycling still looms large within the craft, but individuals have become more interested in learning technique, design, drawing inspiration, utilizing different materials and dyeing to realize their own personal visions. Hence, there is more demand for workshops for new and advanced rug makers.
I have had the great opportunity to study with many well known American and Canadian teachers at rug camps and workshops in many areas of the US. In 2001, I earned my teachers accreditation through the Western McGown Teachers Workshop in Oregon. Since moving to England over 3 years ago, I have attended whatever retreats and workshops I can. As this is a new experience for many, I find it interesting to listen to the feedback of other participants. I offer the following tips and hints to get the most out of your classes.
Workshops are an investment in both time and money. Make sure you understand what the class you have chosen is offering. Talk with others if you are unfamiliar with the teacher’s work. Most workshops cater to all abilities, however, those who have no experience at all may benefit from a beginners class. Conversely, if you know how to hook/prod a beginners class may be redundant. Read the details of the class carefully so you know the subject matter or theme and the materials you need to bring. Will there be materials available for use or purchase? Do you need to have a pattern drawn beforehand or is design part of the class? Take along enough fabric to cover your needs or contact the teacher if you need something specific. Communication with your teacher can make all the difference in your satisfaction with the class.
With several students in a class, it is hard as a teacher to plan for all eventualities. It is better to ask beforehand than to be disappointed on the day. At the workshop, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Bring problems with accommodation to your facilitator’s attention as soon as possible. No use moaning about things later that could have been rectified on the spot. When you are in class, remember common courtesy. While there is a social side as well, use the limited class time to get the most out of the teacher. When the teacher is addressing the class, be respectful. You may know what she/he is talking about, but others may not. A quiet question to the teacher by one student can be a benefit to the entire class. I have never been to a class where I haven’t learned something new by just listening.
Save the idle chitchat, singing and jokes for after the class. It wastes time if a teacher has to explain the same thing 3 times because she/he couldn’t be heard. Class time is a valuable commodity not to be wasted. Everyone in the class deserves equal attention from the teacher. Try not to monopolize the teacher’s time so she can get around to help everyone.
The best workshops are those where both the teacher and the student comes prepared. Attending rug schools and workshops expands your horizons giving you new ways to look at the craft, new social networks and increased knowledge in enhancing your skills as a rug maker.