Monday, December 29, 2014

Is Fear Keeping You From Teaching Your Craft?

I had to muster up some chutzpah to teach my first class.  Even though I have been teaching in many forms for years, teaching for myself-for my own business, was really scary.  I did not have a team or an agency or a boss to go to for support.  Just me. 

When you teach for yourself, the success of your class depends on you to plan it, market it and teach it.  That can create a teeny bit of anxiety-yes indeed.

You may feel like you're not ready to teach yet.  Like you don't know enough, you don't have the technical skills, people might ask questions you don't know, things could break down and you'll look less than the prepared, competent creative that you are. 

You may feel like you're not a good enough artist or maker or that people wouldn't be interested in what you have to share.

These are all very common fears and I still have them all time, as do many of the artist and makers I know, even the ones that make it all look so easy. 

After the first jewelry making class I taught, I completely panicked. I couldn't believe I had signed up to teach 2 more sessions and had no idea how I would go back again. I felt I was in way over my head and I needed to figure out something fast which turned out to be the magic fear antidote.

I invited another jewelry maker to come to the second class with me and I was instantly cured of my fear.  Having another jewelry maker in the room just put me at ease.  Getting her input and ideas made the class stronger. I knew she was there if I stumbled and would keep me from any potential disaster.

Collaborative teaching is my favorite kind and a great place to begin. Having someone else along  benefits your students by creating an even more interactive dynamic. Your students get more input, more ideas and more support in creating.  

When you collaborate with others, there are many perks.  You have someone to share the planning, the expense, the technical details and the clean-up with. You each bring different strengths and skill sets that ideally complement each other. I see it as a benefit to everyone involved, as long as you have a partner that's a good fit for you and your teaching style. 

You see collaborations all over the art world.  Wisdom circles, Retreats, Lifebook and 21 Secrets style classes that bring many artists together to share.  These online collaborations also have the added bonus of reaching thousands more people than you could reach alone.  And don't forget the amazing energy that comes from bringing creatives together in the same space.

If you don't know of any other artists you could co-teach with, consider bringing a trusted friend to your first class or two.  I have done this with my kids classes because I was concerned about the extra support kids sometimes need.  My friend (who also happens to be an elementary school teacher) helped with distributing supplies and encouraging the kids.  She also gave me useful feedback for the next session.

If fear is keeping you from moving forward with your teaching plans, co-teaching may be just the boost you need to get started.  It can give you the confidence to continue on your own and to stretch into even more challenges. 

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