Wednesday, June 17, 2015

You Don't Have to be an Expert to Start Teaching

Yep, it's true so embrace it.  If you make and sell something successfully, you can likely start teaching right now because you already have two key pieces of what you need.

1) You know how to do something really well.
2) People have shown that they like what you make through buying it-so you make something of value.  You have a track record of successfully producing a quality product that there is a market for.

If you're able to explain things in a clear way that is easy to understand and follow and you're enthusiastic about the topic-you have everything you need to begin.

When I first approached our local Adult Education Program to start teaching jewelry making, I only knew how to make one thing:  Earrings!  I had made and sold hundreds of earrings.  Nothing else.  I had focused exclusively on learning to make different types of earrings and I could explain to beginner jewelry makers exactly how they could do this too.

Necklaces?  Nope.  Bracelets-I hadn't gotten that brave yet... but I knew how to make one thing well so the class I proposed was-spoiler alert....Earrings!  My students made at least 3 pair of different style earrings over 3 class sessions.  I still teach this class and my students often want to keep learning more when it's done. (I have since learned to make many different types of jewelry, but this is where I began.)

The key here is not to focus on what you don't know.  You aren't going to try and teach people how to make necklaces if you don't know how to make them.  You are going to teach what you know how to do well and share your success.

Don't let what you don't know hold you back from sharing the gifts you have right now.
Don't compare yourself to other instructors who have been making and teaching for years.  Start with what you are able to share with confidence.

The other key in starting where you are is to target the right students.  I would not target my Earring class to advanced jewelry makers.  It is for beginning jewelry makers and this is clear in the class description. Gear your descriptions and content to the level of maker that you feel you can comfortably teach. Teaching kids is also a great way to get started (and where I began with teaching painting classes) when you're not 100% comfortable yet.

The bigger questions to ask yourself than are you qualified to teach is do you want to teach and are you able to explain things in a clear way that people can understand and follow? I think the best way to figure that out is to test it out by teaching a real class and then decide if it's for you.

You don't have to already be an expert to begin, but teaching is one thing that does help build your reputation as an expert as you grow.

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Teen Queen said...

Very encouraging and affirming article. Thanks.

Kelly D said...

Thank you for stopping in and visiting Teen Queen. I appreciate your kind words of encouragement.

Unknown said...

One bite at a time! Teach what ya know! Just dive in!!! Okay, I'm hearing ya! And what if my bathing suit is tooooo small or the pool too shallow? You guessed it. I'll buy a bigger size and swim on the surface! HAHAHA! Now....if I only knew what to teach!

As always Kelly, an inspiring article. Merci!

Kelly D said...

Thank you Dru-you have so much to offer others, now to just narrow it down to what you want and feel most called to teach. When I'm thinking about what to teach, I make a list of everything I could potentially teach and then go back through and cross off anything that I really don't want to teach. I make a separate list of who I want to teach. Then, I match up what I want to teach with the group that might want to learn it. Like "Intuitive Painting with Kids" or "Enameling with Beginner Jewelery Makers." Always happy to join you in a brainstorming session on this too.