Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year 2012!

Me. Teaching.

Happy New Year, dear readers! 
"What you are is what you have been. What you will be is what you do now." Buddha.
I like the idea of selecting a word for 2012. A word to focus on. An affirmation or a goal. Last year, I chose 3 words (that was too many! I forgot the 3rd word by February.) 
This year I've chosen the word "preparation." Not a very exciting or ethereal-type word, but a good one for me. You see, I want to become a better teacher in 2012. Yes, I'm a good teacher now, and I do get lots of wonderful, positive feedback. But I want to be better. I want to step it up, really give my students their time and money's worth. I want to be more prepared. To be prepared for my classes, to have more hand-outs, more of a structure ( but still with lots of room for creative play!) to really think through each step of the process. Good solid preparation is what I plan to be physically doing for each and everyone of my classes and workshops. 
When I discussed this with my wise friend, Pamela Underwood, she clarified that my intention is to "step up" to new opportunities and be prepared.
And, I need your help to do this, in exchange for your help, you could win this pretty darn fabulous giveaway! done (The giveaway includes my DVD "From Art Journaling to Art", 5 large tubes of very fine Windsor Newton watercolors, a Pitt artist pen, a Tobow water soluble pen, a Strathmore Visual Journal for watercolor and a Sketchbook Challenge tote. This is great stuff, and all my fave products that I use regularly.) 

But I need your help. Please leave a comment regarding teaching. I want to know what you think makes a great teacher. What traits, handouts, preparation, structure or whatever, that makes you feel you've really had a great experience in the classroom or workshop.
Leave your comment by midnight January 11 and I'll choose a winner on January 12. Thanks in advance! 


  1. Happy New Year Jane!
    I think a good teacher is encouraging and helps stretch you out of your box.

  2. I think a good teacher knows how to motivate her students. Besides great handouts with examples that can be referred to after the class ends, a good teacher will walk around the class noting the positive aspects of the student's work as well as things that can be improved to obtain the desired results.

  3. A great teacher-one who moves me to another level in ability but does not do it for me. I had a teacher who took my board and just redid what I did. I finally told her to tell me how, not do it for me. I think also broadening my scope of knowledge of what is out there to do. Teaching different styles (historically), different methods and different mediums. Kay Zimmerman

  4. For me a good teacher is someone, who is prepared as most as possible, who shows me new things and ways to work, but who has much experiences and the ability to assist myself in my creativity.
    He/she should come beside me sometims and help me learning something new, but in respecting my own ideas.

  5. I took several courses from an awesome teacher back in the 70's, who was a 'teacher trainer'. He told us to "tell the students what you will teach them, then teach them, then tell them what you taught them". He also stressed the importance of knowing your subject inside out, then you can talk at length and be prepared to answer questions and demonstrate what you are teaching them.
    Happy New Year!

  6. Jane, first of all, I think you ARE an awesome teacher! As a student, I always loved classes with teachers who are willing to be themselves, share not only their successes, by maybe more importantly, their "failures" ... or lessons learned the hard way. I LOVE having pretty kits waiting for me that show that the instructor thought of me ahead of time and took her own time to put together something special. It's like walking into a classroom with a present waiting for you at your seat! I also had an instructor once who, without asking, started painting on my canvas... I almost had a heart attack... so that is a big NO! NO! to me. Ii also think a great teacher helps one think outside the box, sparks creative thinking as well as creative doing so that students see potential far beyond what they are learning in class that day. After being a student for several years and now an instructor, these are things I try hard to incorporate as I teach. Oh, and awards would be given, if there were such a thing, to DJ Pettitt and Katie Kendrick for amazing kits! DJ's kits are almost worth what you pay for the class. They are unbelievable. She could make a living just selling her kits. They are my role models for my kit making although mine pale in comparison... but neither of them are single working mom's! I try to keep a reality check. Oh, now I hope I win!!!!!

  7. P.S. I like reading all the comments left on this subject. Great questions and great answers! Think I will subscribe to the comments so I don't miss anything!

    P.S.S. I LOVE Michael DeMeng's end of class critique that he is so gifted at doing. I believe that when something like that is done well, it's incredibly empowering.

  8. I am teacher also - a little different from you though. I teach K-4 computer classes. Preparation is definitely a necessity in teaching but with the forethought that you probably will veer off the lesson plan. Students ask questions to help them learn and so I always encourage inquisitiveness. My goal is to challenge my students to do their best with the talents and gifts they have been given.

  9. I think I speak from my experience as a teacher. What I must have before the preparation is some kind of investment in what I'm teaching. There must be a passion for what you are teaching. I know you have that and the passion to pass on what you know.
    I always write several outlines and leave room to add my ideas as I'm mulling it over in my head. Then I try to do handouts on anything that might be new information or new techniques because learners tend to forget details that have been introduced for the first time.
    The hands on creativity part is always the most fun. Some students have a hard time to get started so lots of samples are good and I like to recommend web sites for later.
    Also, I bring books for browsing.
    I like to pass out assignments (simple ones) if the class is a continuing one.

  10. I do like it when I have the feeling that my teacher is thoroughly prepared. I like to leave a class knowing what some "next steps" are that I can take if I want to progress further. I also like a teacher that "sees" me and offers some advice or help that I need...of course, this is dependent on class size.

  11. happy New Year Jane! first of all, my word for the year is "frugal"... But having said that I'll still be seeing you in August in Phoenix ;)
    I think that you are a fabulous teacher and I honestly think that you shouldn't change a thing. A good teacher is definitely organized and prepared... And has clear handouts. I like the hadout to have an agenda too so ii know (loosely) what is coming up. I like a supply list that isn't too too long, and it annoys me to no end when I lug a whole supply list across the country and then don't use half of it!
    I agree with what so many others have already said-- so I'm not going to reiterate it.. And, like Angie ( hi Angie) I'm going to subscribe to the comments to see what others say..iI teach grades 1&2 this year and a lot of this pertains to teaching them too!

  12. A great teacher ; demonstrates techniques clearly with a step-by-step process, is patient and answers all questions, has clearly written and precise hand-outs covering most everything that is demonstrated, does not rely on "show and tell", helps with each individual student that needs it, gives each student a personal critique of their class work, has each student fill out a workshop/class evaluation, be kind, patient, helpful, knowledgeable, prepared and make the class so great that the student will tell their friends!
    Jan H.

  13. Yes there is PREPARATION and motivation and knowledge and all the other things people mentioned in their comments. But....if the teacher doesn't LOVE what they are teaching. and if the passion is not there,no learning will happen. So be sure you are teaching because you LOVE it.
    The student will see this and learn,learn learn.

  14. To me having good, complete & concise handouts with instructions & suppliers is important because there is usually so much to take in during the class, that when i get home I have forgotten half of it & I don't always remember to write it down in the class.

    You are a great teacher already.

  15. Hi Jane, happy 2012!

    Being a great teacher involves loving what you teach, giving fun and interesting and helpful examples, and mostly enjoying the process of the work (this means to love working with children/adults, and enjoying the moment!)

    By doing these things, a teacher's mind learns from students as she teaches, and she has a ball doing it!

  16. carolyn rovere1/01/2012 7:45 AM

    A great teacher will wander amongst her students offering positive comments and encouragements. But more than anything a genuine smile and laughter is always one of the best things you can offer!Those two things bring light and life to whatever you do!

  17. What makes a teacher a teacher is the ability to inspire. Inspiration ~ to continue to learn, to create and to share is what I look for in a teacher. Enthusiasm for life ties it all together for me!

  18. I have found in my sewing classes that a good teacher is one who gives lots of tips for future use,has time for each student(many teachers leave the last one or two students out because they feel they need to get on with the class),and demonstrates everything clearly. Teachers who smile a lot are great!

  19. This is the I do, we do, you do method of teaching.
    2–3 minutes
    Purpose: Orient students to new material by clarifying the purpose and objective.
    •Objective posted/visually available
    •Teach any vocabulary of process or materials to clarify the objective
    •At least one connection to prior knowledge
    5-8 minutes
    Purpose: Provide initial explanation of the new concept and/or skill. Stay focused on the topic!
    •Teach the skill and concept
    •What you are doing is modeled using think aloud and shown by demo
    •Hold students accountable by incorporating engagement strategies ask them to repeat after you
    Structured Practice
    8-10 minutes Purpose: master each step one at a time. Good time for a hand-out with steps
    •Practice demo #1 – highly scaffolded
    •Practice demo #2 – reduce scaffolds
    •Practice demo#3 – no scaffolds
    •Checking for understanding
    o Immediate corrective feedback
    o Informal student monitoring
    Guided Practice- Students are working with your guidance
    8-10 minutes Purpose: Move students toward accuracy.
    •Informal student monitoring
    Independent Practice
    5-8 minutes Purpose: Transfer new knowledge from short to long-term memory.
    •Students work independently, pairs/groups on a particular skill
    •Teacher works a small group if needed
    •Differentiated based on needs of students
    1-2 minutes Purpose: Opportunity for students to communicate what they have learned.

    I am available to answer questions or provide help.

    You are awesome!

  20. I think showing up prepared is important. I like a teacher who seems to be enjoying themselves and is as glad to be there as i am. I do not like a teacher that talks down to me , even if its only me perceiving it that way. Smile, have fun your enthusiasm will be contagious!

  21. wilma nenninger1/01/2012 8:22 AM

    A good teacher knows the technique/subject they are going to demonstrate inside and out, yet has a great bank of material to draw from. When working in the public school system, where materials are often limited to one per student, I heard a teacher say "if you mess it up, dress it up." I love this idea that if a new technique you are trying is not going "as it should" a wisened instructor can give new ideas to approach the material at hand and let you come up with something completely different.

  22. If you use handouts....highlight what they contain but don't read them to the students. I have had that happen to me..and it's a waste of my time and the teachers. In lieu of your word for the prepared, but also allow for the unexpected and go with the flow!!! I have taken painting classes that were supposed to be outside, but the instructor did not plan for bad weather, we spent one day looking at slides of his paintings...there was no contingency on what to do in inclement weather. (the paintings were all on his website, so there wasn't anything new, plus it was on his laptop, so most of the class couldn't see them anyway.

    Just a couple of bad experiences I would like to throw out there.

  23. Hi, Jane--2011 was significant for me because it was the first class I'd taken with you, and I was able to take two! I think what makes a great teacher is enthusiasm for the subject as well as knowledge and skill that demonstrates expertise. YOu've got both of those in spades. The other thing is being able to apply the material to whatever place the students (individually) are in, and you do that well, too. But if you think more preparation is needed then I expect you'll only get better. I can't wait to take another class!

  24. The supply list…. Ah yes – more expense for the student. A good list would have what items would be best to have and also what (brand, similar, or could be left off for class) the student could bring (what can be substituted.)

    A good teacher might assume that everyone in the class has lost any confidence they came in with. Be able to recognize when a student is closing down, discouraged or uncomfortable. Also, develop a technique for quieting that student who argues, knows as much or more than the teacher, tries to get all the teachers attention – you know the one I am talking about.

    Have samples for each stage of the project, not just completed samples. Put these where students can go refer to them.

    Unfortunately, a teacher must be prepared by having extra supplies for the forgetful unorganized student. This is hard when flying to the class, perhaps host could help with this. It would not be unreasonable for the teacher to charge for supplies if she has to provide something that the student should have with them.

    Lastly, the best way to encourage is to use the words “what if” like in what if you tried (experimented) this technique or what if you used this color. WHAT IF empowers the student and they can take ownership of the idea and run with it… What If opens many new gates for creativity.

  25. My favorite teachers inspire me -- often with information/ideas from other disciplines. As a teacher, I try to offer my students something extra --what they signed up for, and something additional they weren't counting on.

  26. differentiation. a great teacher takes the time to know her students so she can build on their strengths. i admire you for your desire to "step it up." great teachers are also lifelong learners. happy new year!

  27. personally, i feel a great teacher is someone who can teach to the least and most experienced in the room...achieving balance in the lessons....honing the material to all...thank you for the opportunity to win this thoughtful assemblage of supplies...

  28. PERMISSION - That is another good word for the new year.. helping students give themselves permission to make mistakes and try new techniques.

    And thank you for your video tutorials for those of us who can't get to one of your fabulous workshops.
    Happy New Year to all!
    Cami Smith

  29. Happy New Year!
    I prefer a class when it is not "Suitable for All Levels" but rather is focused on a particular skill level or a particular project. I once took a class that I knew would be interesting but wondered how it could fill a whole day(it seemed quite simple). I was therefore a bit leary about signing up for it. However it was probably one of the best classes I have taken- great handouts, great demonstration of the technique, time to practice the technique with inexpensive materials, time for feedback with each student during the practice session and finally enough time to work through the project with the "real materials" to complete it. I guess I am goal-oriented and like structure! I know this approach is not for everyone......
    However for this class 2 things were clear: the instructor was very knowledgeable and very well prepared.

  30. motivational, prepared, passionate and generous. oh and patient, just in case i'm the student. :>)

  31. I was in a class one time and, while we were working, the teacher went around and would sometimes stop and hold a students work up and say, "look how so-and-so did this such-and-such" and everyone would oooh and ahhh. I secretly hoped she would come around to me, but she never did ... only some people. It would have helped if, at any point in the class, everyone got a touch on their shoulder, and SOMETHING good they are doing, even "your focus is so good; that's wonderful. "

  32. Hi Jane - Happy New Year.
    Ahhhh. What a great question. And I love that kit.

    I always feel I've had a worthwhile experience in a class when I walk away feeling I've gone to another level, or have the info/tools/ability to go to the next level.

    A good who comes prepared but is ready to move/adjust to the place that meets the student(s), even if it requires a shift in the plan. One who gives the student(s) the "tools" to learn, develop and create, then midwifes the process rather than the product (ie. lets the student do it). One who tells the student what she sees rather than handing out judgements such as right/wrong, this vs. that, etc. A good teacher shows the student how to see what the student's looking at or wanting, then allows the student to make his/her own interpretation. She demonstrates what she's talking about, particularly when it involves techniques, then lets the student use them in his/her own way. She hears/sees a student's individual "voice" when it shows up, and helps the student see it, too. A good teacher is present, whether in person or online.

    I must say my least favorite experience is one where the teacher says "Here, this is how you do it, now go," without opportunity for feedback or exchange about the work.

  33. The most effective teachers I have had, ever since kindergarten , were the ones that inspired me beyond the confines of the classroom... the ones that let me "take the ball and run with it". Preparation and knowledge about what you are presenting is crucial, yes - organization is key - but a teacher who is generous with her ideas and is not afraid to share them (come on, you know those teachers that cry foul when their students "imitate" them)... that is the teacher who in the end is the most effective and inspiring. Something for any teacher to aspire to! Sending wishes for a new year filled with good health, much joy and loads of continued creativity ~ Deb

  34. For me a worthwhile class is one where I not only acquire a new skill or technique but also get some feedback or encouragement or tips on how to work it into my own individual style...not an easy task for the instructor but I find it so invigorating and exciting to be helped to envision new possibilities with my own work.
    Also, for classes that run several days or weeks, I think it is important for the instructor to change things around seat- wise and wall display- wise so we have different views and different people to interact with and to keep things "fresh" and interesting.
    Personally, I don't get too excited by handouts but I thrive on demonstrations especially ones that are not rigid but show many styles and possibilities.
    As for critiques, in the few on- line classes that I have taken from you, I feel you have a great balance of mixing positive and constructive feedback and have learned and improved from your advice. Thanks and I hope this helps.

  35. Jane, I've taken your classes and I can confirm that you are already an outstanding teacher! What I appreciate the most is a teacher who can gently manage the student who has his/ her own agenda and not allow them to hijack the class. I also like written material, not necessarily a blow-by-blow, but tips, books, websites, directions for complicated processes and room to write my own notes. Often I get so caught up in the process that I forget some of the details.

  36. Happy New Year!

    I think what I find most valuable is when the teacher can help us understand how to make the technique our own. Whether that is the freedom to choose our own subjects, or a quick discussion of how the technique could be varied or applied in different ways.

  37. A great teacher is one who teaches her techniques and then helps and encourages students to find their own style.

  38. I like a teacher to be "all there" with the class.
    handouts are good, include a little bit more info in them than the class a bonus for actually reading the handouts.
    Samples of the work you are teaching, preferably from more than your a student an opportunity to "see" what they can achieve with your technique.

  39. Everyone has contributed great advice. I am a HS art educator and recently passed National Board Certification. What I have learned about making my teaching better over the last 13 years is to reflex after each lesson. Ask yourself, "What worked? What didn't? What can I do differently, better next time?" Good teaching is a living thing that is always changing, the good teacher adjusts and changes with each lesson.

  40. I think part of what a teacher needs to do besides being prepared, is to be really ready to part with what they are teaching. When I teach a class, I'm sharing some technique that I've worked on for some time and I feel ready to share it, but more importantly I feel ready for other people to use it to make art, sell art, incorporate it into their work. I think it's a bit unfair to put strings on the instruction, saying people can only use it to create personal art for themselves. They are taking a class to learn to grow in new ways as an artist. They may want to make art to sell and that is fine by me. That being said, teachers are making their living from the classes that they prepare and teach (putting many, many hours into class preparation) so it is fair to ask that the students don't turn around and use your instruction to teach it as their own workshop or publish your class on a blog, video demo or as an technique article. What is thrilling is to see someone get their work published and know that you had a little part in their journey. It's very fulfilling to share, truly share art with another.

  41. I think a good teacher needs to be passionate about what they are teaching. When the student sees the passion that the teacher has, it spreads and lights a fire for the student. I think communication is important too. Being able to give good examples... pointing out the good and the bad in a student's work. We are there to learn and both positive encouragement and constructive criticism are key.

  42. being prepared of course is primary. Giving clear directions as to what is expected of the student including what supplies are needed! A solid sense of humor because things often go awry...and the ever important patience and compasion. The best teachers are the ones who let you explore without going to far afield. Opening up the creative forces in someone who was afraid to chance it is a big reward for both teacher and student!

  43. A good teacher asks each participant what they want/expect to learn, and endeavours to meet those needs, rather than following a script. Sometimes that will mean putting the prepared material aside and working with the group to create something unique.

  44. Best teachers are the ones who, like a good therapist, cut through the dross to the center of the problem that's stymied me. From them I carry insights I come back to repeatedly, such as "You need to decide what this piece is about. Who are talking to? What is it that you want to say?"

  45. When I teach I bring the materials we'll work with and a general idea of a technique or small project. I present the technique or project, then turn folks loose with it. For the rest of the time I lead more than lecture or "teach." I love it when the room gets all quiet because everyone is intent on their work. Sometimes a person will ask a question that only they can answer because the choices are theirs and I generally answer with that: it's yours to choose. I don't want them to come away having made a replica of my project but with food for thought and more ideas than they can do in a couple of hours. My highest praise came to me from a 7 year old who told me I was so much fun, not boring. That's a jackpot review! BTW, Thank you for the Prayer Flag Project!! I have not made bunches but they are high on my New Year's list to make more!!

  46. Wow so many wonderful comments. So not to repeat..I would say never assume your students know what you mean.ask if anything needs clarifing show that you care about them and how they are doing and most of all be enthusiastic!

  47. Happy New Year!
    In my opinion a great teacher is always generous with their time, praise, and honesty. A good teacher never strives to prove what they know, but to bring out the best in their students. I have such admiration for teachers (maybe because I'm a rather poor one myself).

  48. My best teachers saw each student and their work as clearly as if we'd had a one-on-one class. The best teachers urged every student to grow, then met each of us where we were. The best teacher urged us to look at every student's work, while remembering that each of us was looking for what we did best. Passion, handouts, demos, all pale to this insight and encouragement, steadfast and confidently given.

  49. Responsibility. I think being responsible is an important ingredient for being (or for becoming) a great teacher. I know, responsibility may sound like a negative, but for me it is not. As a teacher I feel responsible for presenting the material, looking at all angles in explaining the lesson 'cause not everyone thinks like me and overall the tone of the class - whether I am standing in front of a 100 students or just two. I want my students to love the idea of learning and to NEVER let go of that desire and as the teacher I am responsible for igniting that fire in my stuents. Their excitement fuels my desire to continue to teach and as such as I teach them, I also learn from them, too. Be resonsible is to open to your students and hear their thoughts/ideas. As someone once said, if you want to touch the future then you should teach!

  50. Jane, I don't know that this really applies to you, but when I was teaching first grade I would remind myself that my students might not remember what they were taught, but they would remember how they were treated. I feel blessed because of facebook to be in touch with many students from over 40 years ago and they seem to remember me fondly so I think that philosophy worked.
    You've always treated each of your students, young and old, with respect, and your sense of humor makes us all feel comfortable, two very important characteristics of a good teacher. Thank you!

  51. Great teachers exhibit a generous spirit--freely sharing their skills and knowledge, but also freely sharing their attention, interest and acceptance of each student. If a student leaves feeling the teacher recognized them as an individual and appreciated their unique view of the world and helped them focus on their strengths and weaknesses then they have found value in the experience.

  52. To me a great teacher is one who leads by example. You know, talks the talks and walks the walk. Also one who shares their own struggles with creatively or any other obstacles that prevent them from creating their art and how to overcome these obstacles to form free expression.

  53. I appreciate explanations of techniques in various ways (demonstrated, described verbally in different ways, comparisons to other techniques, etc.) and then being given enough time to try it out myself and ask questions.
    Thanks for the fabulous giveway!

  54. My favorite teachers have been the ones that are willing to wring themselves dry for their students. Generous, always willing to share a technique that helped them with a block they had while creating a project. After teaching and demonstrating a technique, a great teacher will be attentive to the class, walking around, asking questions, and making sure the students know there are no mistakes, only opportunities to try something else. I've been in classes with some great teachers who, when they discover several students struggling with the same thing, will call the class up to demonstrate a different way to go about acheiving what they are teaching. Some students need to see a few different approaches to get to the desired outcome. When I can walk away from a class saying that the instructor was so generous with themselves... their knowledge, their comments, their diversity to go with the flow of the particular group of people they are teaching; I know I've been with a fantastic in instructor!

  55. Hi Jane - happy new year. The best classes I have done have been those where the needs lists are definite (ie. you don't have to turn up with a million things you end up not using!), the teacher enables different speeds of learning, the steps are clear and suggestions are made for how the techniques could be applied to other projects, and that there are lots of examples of other work to admire, fondle, inspire :-) Awesome giveaway

  56. Everyone has such wonderful ideas here. I'll just put in my 2 cents worth.
    1. Handouts are great, to go back to refer to them and to jot further notes on them that you might need later, and other reading to do
    2. I love teachers who provide supplies to use. For a lot of people, lugging a long list of supplies is a burden, and sometimes people don't have the access to stores to purchase things. A kit with supplies you need is awesome!
    3. I think teachers should let students work at their own pace or interpret the class in their own way. I don't want to feel like I am doing something wrong if I do it my way.
    4. Teachers should also just be themselves. As students we like to feel like we are getting to know the teacher and don't want to feel like we have been misled about who you really are. Be honest!
    And what a great giveaway. Thanks.

  57. I like yiu word for the year, and the concept as you expanded on it.
    What makes for a good teacher? Well, for me a lot of it is (rightly or wrongly) the personality that comes across. Some of the things that make good teaching (I am assuming that she knows what she is teaching very well - that's not the issue I am talking about): enthusiasm for the subject and for teaching, warmth of manner, clear organization of the material, an attitude that encourages experimentation and that "there are no mistakes or failures here", flexibility, the ability to approach the learners where they are rather than where the teacher is or would like the learners to be. Mostly a good teacher has great love for what she is doing and an openness to new discoveries, an emphasis on the process rather than product, and a sense of relaxed competence and confidence in the students as well as herself.

  58. Wow! After reading all these thoughtful comments one can appreciate how a teacher might be REALLY tired after a good day's work!! (I say this as a teacher, myself.) I have taken one of your classes, so I know you come prepared. I agree that thinking through your process carefully is SUPER important. One thing we often do with kids is have them take a "gallery walk" sometime during the lesson so that they can see what others are doing. We do this, not to encourage "copying" but to help some students break out of whatever box they might be in and explore other ideas.

    I know you will continue to enjoy and improve during 2012 because that is what great teachers do:))
    Thanks for all your sharing.

  59. What a great giveaway!

    Since I'm a teacher, and have recently taken some (online) workshops, I felt it was important to feel "heard" when I had questions, and for the teacher to answer. It made me feel like I mattered as a student, and that the teacher cared.

  60. I love a good handout with just the outline of topics to be covered and maybe anything that needs to be listed, like supplies or steps - with room to take notes. I don't like to be distracted by too much reading while the teacher is talking, but it helps to have a framework.

  61. If preparation is your target, then you MUST know what you want to achieve. What is the end product or goal that you want to leave with your students? Once you can succinctly state that end goal, then you can develop the steps that you will take the students through to achieve the desired results. Once you have the steps in place, you can layout the instruction for each of the steps. Once you have laid out the instructional steps, you will know you are prepared! The end goal can be very open-ended, since you want to leave room for creativity, but you still must have a pretty succinct idea of what they student will have gained. I have purchased your CD and I think you already do a quality instruction with very clearly defined steps, but I would love to have that gift packet that goes with the CD. Thanks for the opportunity to win it!

  62. A good teacher is willing to share her ideas, to share her secrets without worrying about students stealing her thunder, is compassionate about her students providing kindness and nurturing, is tolerant of students with limitations or disabilities, and is kind and has a sense of humor. A good teacher is always willing to say that I don't have the answer to that particular question, but I will find out and get back to you with an answer. A good teacher is a lifelong learner and spends time learning about different approaches to teaching as all students have different learning styles.

  63. Hi Jane... I believe that the best teachers do show up prepared, but more than that... They don't just teach the class, they teach each person. Sometimes we forget that everyone learns in different ways and we have to be flexible enough to tune in to the needs of all the students. I love handouts when I take a class and I try to provide them when I teach, as well. Another thing I really appreciate is lots of information on online resources, books, articles that I can study after I have taken the class. The best teachers for me have been very approachable as well, because it's not always easy for me to ask for help, if the teacher isn't warm and friendly. I think your plan for the new year sounds fabulous, and I wish you the best of luck in 2012 :)

  64. There are so many great ideas in the comments already given.

    For me, a great teacher is someone who demonstrates technique clearly, provides a handout so that the student can be certain they haven't missed something later, and who allows the student to bring their own creative ideas to the work.

  65. One thing I wish all teachers would remember: Ask students to only bring supplies they will use. Then share samples, handouts and encouragement.

  66. A teacher needs to be perpared for all levels of students in the class. I like a class that you can leave with a finish or at least an almost finished project. As a student I like to have a great kit to start a class with and, I love when a teacher brings thier work to share. I like a teacher that does not get offended when you go down your path. Happy New Year..

  67. I was sent her via Patty at Magpies Nest...what a wonderful spot to find! I have been experimenting with mixed media and a few art journaling classes and am impressed with your word! Preparation yeah some one gets it! It is very frustrating to me to take the time to invest in a class and have the instructor not have their supplies in order - three cheers to you for putting preparation as your focus. It certainly lets the student focus on the issues being presented rather than watching a teacher refil a paint bottle of ink pad! Yeah!
    Your work looks wonderful !!

  68. Lots of great answers already! Id say be prepared, organized, and realize that everyone learns in a different way -some are visual learners, others by reading, others by hands-on, etc. - and be flexible enough in your methods to cover all of those bases. Tune in to the students to see if anyone is stuck or struggling.

    And personally, I like a class to be long enough to at least come close to completing a project, otherwise it's just another thing that goes into the UFO pile. :)

  69. I dont think I can add much to what has already been said.A good teacher is one who is passionate about what she teaches, knows it well, loves to find something new from her students and has a good relationship with her students,all of which I am sure you do.
    OH how I would love that give away!!

  70. My best classes have been when the teacher is engaged with the class the whole time... when students are working on a piece the teacher still interacts by talking to individuals, making comments to the class in general, etc. One of my worst experiences was from a very well known mixed media artist who showed us how to do a technique then proceeded to work on something of her own as we all were left to stumble through.

  71. For me a great teacher is one who understands that students are there to learn: not hear them talk or perform. They are there for the subject; not the teacher them self.

    They understand that they need to explain things from the ground up and not chastise if students have difficulty understanding them.

    A great teacher knows that there are no stupid questions and encourages students to feel comfortable asking anything in class.

    A great teacher is Patient and Polite at all times.

    And lastly: a great teacher LOVES what they are teaching and passes on the excitement and passion.

  72. Happy New Year Jane!
    I think a great teacher is definitely prepared, with clear handouts and supplies. But what is important to me, is a teacher that inspires. That gets my creative juices flowing, and makes me want to break out of my comfort zone and try something new. I love the way you inspire, and hope to be able to take one of your classes in the future. Thank you for the generous give-away! Hope I win!

  73. first and formost is a teacher with a sense of humor, someone who can laugh at their own mistakes and makes you laugh at your own. A teacher who is not there to talk about themselves the whole time, but to learn what they can about the students and what inspires them and takes that and helps them learn what the teacher is there to share.

  74. As a teacher, sometimes my only goal is to get the students to feel like they CAN! If they aren't afraid to try, then eventually they can learn anything.

  75. Hello Sunshine1/01/2012 2:36 PM

    A great teacher - something I strive for. With my ten year olds I know that they may not remember their multiplication facts or that Maine became a state in 1820 but I know they will always remember how I made them feel. They should know that they are important and special. As a student I like to come away with a finished product and something I can try later. It is also great if the student made me feel good about myself. It is all about make a "connection."

  76. A great teacher has a lot of answers, but when s/he doesn't, isn't afraid to say s/he doesn't know.

    A great teacher listens to questions like it's the first time someone asked it, and that it's an important question.

    A great teacher gives us tools, but not all of the answers.

    Happy 2012.

  77. Besides being prepared with handouts, examples, supplies - the obvious things - a teacher must be a good communicator of techniques in layman's terms and a good listener. Presume that a student has never held a paintbrush, pencil, or purchased paints and paper. I think teaching at Mundo Lindo has you well prepared for this. I think the biggest complaints I have heard from students in classes I have taken is a lack of understanding of what are the class goals. They think they are going to make a full size quilt in 4 hours, when the class is actually in color theory. LOL! People will read what they want to read. The best teacher I ever had the pleasure of studying with was Jinny Beyer. She had the ability to explain techniques multiple ways so that no one was lost. She was also human and could laugh at herself. I think the teachers that I have enjoyed the most have been ones that showed that they really, sincerely wanted to pass on their knowledge to the classroom. They were invested in the students. The classroom was a fun enviroment and you could feel the creative energy in the room. With the energy you have shown on the dvds and on QATV, I think that your classrooms must glow with the creative energy. Happy New Year and remember, if it isn't broken, why fix it!

  78. Better-than-good teachers are prepared, of course, but they also give their students confidence that each one can do whatever is being taught. Kits are often nice, but should be optional because many students like to bring their own 'stuff.' Many great suggestions so far, but teachers who care about their students and what they are doing will always have better success than those who care only about themselves.

  79. a great teacher will help me get to the next level and know what that level is.

  80. A good teacher is one who knows her material really well, and is able to convey it to the student. Visuals and demos help a lot. Also, being aware that people learn differently and at different rates. Patience is a must! Gosh, I guess teaching is hard work! :)

  81. Thanks so much for this opportunity! I need my teacher to provide me with details and to demonstrate what I am there to learn.

  82. I think a great teacher encourages me to expand my boundaries and do what I may have been afraid to do before. When I think that I used to be afraid to tear paper, it makes me laugh but what would I have missed out on if a teacher had not encouraged me to do that?!

  83. My only thought about what makes a good teacher other than the obvious comments you made is this. The ability to get the chatty folks who take classes only as a social outlet to quiet down so that others who really want to learn can hear what is going on instead of having to repeat what was said to the chatty cathy all day long. This is my personal pet peeve in almost every in person class I have ever taken. That person always sits by me!

  84. A good teacher is someone that is prepared and offers good handouts and information on supplies. Offers feedback to their students and helps them grow. Loves and is passionate about what they do.

  85. I totally agree I could be more prepared. As an elementary teacher those days that I am better prepared go much smoother. But there is a lot of room for improvement.
    One thing I can do better is "the little stuff". You know what I mean, is someone coming in before school to help sharpen pencils? Are the supplies where you put them? Or did little gremlins come in and move them when you weren't looking?
    I need to be less laid back about some things and double/triple check what I assume is always there, really is there.
    Mid year is a great time to straighten up and get back to basics.
    Good luck in 2012!

  86. My own philosophy as a teacher is that if I can get you to do something better than me, then I have REALLY done my job! Because for me it's always been about how to get support and encourage the other person to listen to their own intuition and work from that place as they are learning. Nothing will stop them then and they will take that learning throughout their lives.

    Great question! Looking forward to reading all the answers ~
    Thank you,
    Shena Meadowcroft

  87. Hi Jane, just want to say first off that you are an amazing artist and I have not yet had the opportunity to take a workshop with you but I hope to! I have found that the most successful workshops that I have attended are those with structure and lots of input from the instructor. I think it is important to feel that the instructor is not only organized, but also strong enough to push the students to stretch and really step outside their comfort zone. Happy 2012!

  88. Happy New Year! This is a great question. Here is what works for me as a student.
    I learn best when all 3 learning styles are incorporated; kinesthetic, auditory and visual. I need to hear you tell me, see you do it and then be allowed to do it...and I need immediate feedback please. I appreciate handouts of the process we used so I can replicate what I learned after class. A page or two of the major points or objectives is a takeaway I will treasure. I love teachers that tell me at the beginning of the class what to expect and not what not to expect, and who will send me away with goals/challenges. I love a challenge!
    Now, what not to do? Not control the class, not have developed curriculum and not have prepared for the unexpected (what could go wrong, a contingency plan and how to deal with disruptive students) is so important.
    Great teachers make it look easy. However, there is nothing easy about delivering a great class.

  89. Happy New Year, Jane.

    Besides the obvious preparation, handouts etc., I think a truly great teacher figures out where the student is on their journey, what their skill level is, accepts that, and manages to move the student forward. Awareness and an open mind are required for this.

  90. This question is difficult to narrow down...I really like to hear about an artist's process.
    How does your brain form an idea,where do you find your inspiration,etc.
    It is great to use specific tools and materials,esp. If they are new to me.
    A specific exercise helps me to break the ice to my own creativity.
    I guess those are the basics I hope for in a class,video, or book.

  91. Jane, just the fact that you pose this request for feedback, and make your 2012 word “preparation,” speaks VOLUMES about you as a teacher. I’ve been so lucky to have taken two classes with you in the past and I’m going to take two more at AU in August; yay! YOU ARE A GREAT TEACHER. But I love that you want to get even better.

    People have shared so many good ideas in these replies. I agree with most everything written.

    The “I DO--WE DO--YOU DO” method mentioned earlier is valuable. It needs to happen throughout the class. When you have a number of techniques to teach, give students just one or two at a time (maybe 3, at most, with adults) in a demo, then let them have a go at it while you circulate to help. The most frustrating learning experience I’ve had at an art retreat is when a teacher lectured for 2 hours, then turned us loose in a class where many of us had never used much of the equipment and had no experience with the many, complicated, multi-step techniques. Yikes. Even jotting down notes while she talked didn’t help me remember all the fine points. Frequent, smaller bites of practice would have been much better, at least for me.

    Another thing to think about as you are structuring a class is to start with the end in mind, then work backwards to create your plan and your pace. I have friends who have been burned with instructors when they’ve left with a bunch of pieces in a bag. If the class is process and technique-based, I think people are okay leaving with pieces in progress. If it’s product-oriented, it seems that many times people sign up to learn and produce that product, especially something they see in photos included with the class description. And the closer they can come to finishing it by the end of class, the happier they are.

    Again, I love that this is your quest for 2012. My husband and I are both career educators—teachers, principals, staff developers—and we’ve always agreed that a good teacher can become a great teacher if he or she has the right attitude and a yearning to improve. A+ FOR YOU, JANE!

  92. I teach and have taken art classes for many many years. I have found that being truthful to your student is the best thing you can do for them. Don't tell them it looks great when it doesn't. They know it doesn't, so they feel cheated by not helping them to make it look better. I always say to my students, "What don't you like about it?" and then we work from there. If they say I like it...leave it alone.
    G. Rader

  93. Passion, preparation, empathy for fellow learners (because the great teacher learns with students), lots of feedback and time taken to find reasonable alternatives for expensive supplies (we can't all afford the expensive stuff and sometimes want to try something before making the big investment) but most of all the ability to LAUGH and love the learning process! I have been an arts teacher for 34 years and the laughter together is what my students tell me they love. I love to smile and laugh with your blog too! Kathy Reid

  94. I take very few classes or workshops because, when it comes to art and quilting, I can't help but take my time. As a result, I always feel rushed in classes. I truly appreciate instructors who take time to help me stay caught up. Without that little extra attention, all I tend to get from the workshop is anxious. For the same reasons, I truly appreciate it when I am given the option to prepare any portion of the project ahead of time.

  95. I think that great teachers are aware that students all learn in different ways. They start each class by asking students which ways they learn best, and then adapt the class accordingly. It is no use handing out loads of written materials to people who learn visually, as an example. Other attributes in a good teacher include flexibility, passion, humor, supportive and being inclusive. I've attended several classes where the instructor created an environment that was clicky and not inclusive. Will never take a class from her again.

    All the best for the new year.

  96. A great teacher is organized and has planned what she wants to teach in each class. Handouts are appreciated. The best teacher I have experienced works with each individual in the class and takes into consideration the person's ability and level and current art work. She helps you make your art better. She nudges you to continually improve. She can tell when you are ready to move to the next level and encourages you to make the leap.

  97. For me a good teacher is someone who can help students to think outside the square and see all the possibilities! You definitely possess this and you're very inspirational too, best thing I did was buy From Art Journalling to Art, I just wish I could come and sit in a class with you but Australia's just a wee bit far away! Best Wishes for 2012!

  98. Happy New Year, all!
    I don't have a vast list of teachers to compare to, but the importance of being prepared for the task as you have identified is right up on top. Also valuable is clarity and the ability to transmit ideas (Roz Stendahl comes to mind - I don't think I've ever heard anyone ever transmit information more clearly than Roz on her Strathmore video series). All commenters above have offered wonderful ideas!

  99. A great teacher listens to her students, especially to what is not being said. She has the ability to understand the way each student learns best and is able to think on her feet to adapt the lesson so students can simultaneously relate to the material, make the connections and leap forward. It is a joy to be a part of this process.
    Sara Leary

  100. Solid preparation is essential, but hopefully the class time will not be scheduled so tight that there isn't time for questions, or a little creative bird walking. While having the teacher just stand and watch me makes me nervous, I do like for the teacher to come by with a comment...either a suggestion or a positive remark. I think it's important that the teacher try to speak with every student and not spend all his or her time on either the most talented, or the student most in need of help.
    CJ Middendorf

  101. What an amazing giveaway, Jane. You certainly have the generosity feature of a good teacher covered :) I think that good teachers have patience in abundance, can present to a variety of learning styles, they remain organized and yet can be flexible. And we can't forget to be playful and fun. :)

  102. So many wonderful comments. I'll try to express might teacher wishes as succinctly as possible.

    I want a teacher who is prepared, provides clear and good instruction and examples, listens, interacts and encourages.

    With art I think visual examples are SO important and I want you to provide constructive criticism and encouragement.

  103. a great teacher is some one who manages to pass on their love and enthusiasm for their subject to their pupils. They instil in the pupil the desire to go out and surpass the teacher's achievements and pass these on in turn.

  104. I have taken lots of classes (but not one from you yet) but I do think preparation is key, and handouts are great. Knowing your subject is key, and one of my pet peeves is a long list of supplies that I have to schlep to class and then not use! Just my two cents worth.

  105. I feel it is important for a teacher to be open to their students ideas too. Having worked with children with disabilities I know how important it is to them to be heard. It opens a whole new world for them.

  106. A great teacher must have a passion for teaching. I have known teachers who are prepared, know their subject matter and really want to teach; but without that special passion are lost. It's hard to explain.

  107. Jane, I taught many years in staff development. The preparation, handouts, method of instruction, organization etc is of utmost importance. However, one most important ingredient for the teacher is to be an 'Encourager". Many adults who are finding their way in creativity were taught in their youth to fit into some defined artistic mold so they withdrew from the creative arts. Being an encourager and helping the learner to think outside the box is so important. It draws the learner back into the creative life with courage and satisfaction. Mary Ann Rankin

  108. Jane, I was once excited in a body writing class - I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted it to look, but I needed some technical help. The teacher showed me how to do it her way. The project still sits on a closet shelf, undone. That sort of thing has happened in other art classes I've taken. So I would say the encouragement should be to help the student do it her way, not the way you would do it.

  109. There are a lot of teachers in my life; friends and all the teachers my boys have in middle school and high school. I think a good teacher is prepared. But a great teacher gives you the tools you need and then challenges you. The great teachers I have had asked more of me than I did of myself and encouraged me to take a risk. That is where the real learning happened.

  110. There are many great comments, ideas and thoughts of what makes a good/great teacher. As a student and someone new to sketching/doodling, a great teacher is someone who imparts technical knowledge, encourages inquisitiveness and inspires me to continue long after the class is over. I know I have enjoyed a teacher's instruction, when I have no qualms about sharing my completed compostion with my teacher at a later date.

  111. I love a teacher who demonstrates clearly, then spends time walking around the class,commenting on everyone's work. Adding tips here and there as necessary and making everyone aware if there are any problems that crop up often.

  112. I think a good teacher listens first to her students wants and needs. Individual attention is one way of helping students along their path even if just a word here or there for encouragement. Also, good teachers have planned well and made understandable handouts with not only words, but also good illustrations either hand drawn or cut and pasted. A good teacher encourages her students if they get down on themselves or get frustrated. Good teachers have a zest for life and are passionate about their craft.

  113. Hi Jane, and Happy New Year to you!! I read your post early this morning (well, yesterday I guess, since I see it's just past midnight here), and have been thinking about it throughout the day.

    I think that one of the best traits in a teacher is to be able to make your students fearless in their endeavours. Be prepared to see things you've never seen, and help your students to do the same, by asking them what the results might be if they worked deeper into their creation, or if they would change anything if they were able to create the same piece again.

    Removing fear, and being prepared to help a person step way out of their comfort zone is by far one of the greatest attributes any teacher could have, in my humble opinion. Good luck to you in your own quests!!

  114. Hi Jane, i hope you have an amazing New Year..i think the key ingredient that stands out for me when listening to someone..teach is their enthusiasm for their subject, and that it is exciting for them to impart knowledge..

  115. a great teacher for me is someone who demonstrates techniques clearly and simply ...and then encourages me to step outside the box and get over self criticism. A sense of humor helps too.....and i love hand outs....
    Happy New Year to You, jane! thank you for all the help you gave me this year....i had my first art show!

  116. One thing that I always like about a teacher is if she makes sure she interacts with us as individuals. She definitely learns all our names during the course of a session and she definitely makes time to give us all one-on-one attention and help, whether we need it or not (sometimes just affirmation is necessary). Also, she goes off-topic at times when it's needed, so for example if a student brings up an interesting aside, the teacher is prepared to share that with the group. Finally, a good teacher is one who readily admits that she learns as much from her students as they do from her!

  117. A good teacher makes a student WANT to come to class each time! A good teacher can make a boring subject interesting! I loved the online class I took from you - lessons were well planned and the directions were excellent. The fact that you were able to comment on so many was amazing!

  118. Happy NEW Year Jane
    I think a good teacher should have a cheerful attitude, encourage her students to come up with new ideas and questions regarding the subject and above all sincere to her profession by explaining her techniques and ideas in a clear and detailed manner.

  119. Jane, I am having difficulty getting my comment Published so am this time trying a different identity and hope it helps! A good teacher to me is one that sends me off with ideas how to take my work from the class even further. I can then go home inspired to stretch myself creatively. Best wishes Lesley

  120. happy new year! I think a good teacher must have a great sense of humor! I like to learn new techniques rather than complete a project so supply lists, preparation, demonstration, and comments from the instructor are all helpful to me!

  121. Thanks for your inspiration and the great give-away! There are many great comments here and what I have to say has been said in other ways. Have passion for what you're teaching, but also have passion for teaching others; have passion for bringing creativity out in others. I think this can be done by making connections with your students, show genuine interest in them and admiration for their ideas. When a connection is made it opens the doors for much learning and sharing to happen.

  122. 5:28 AM

    A good teacher loves what she does and she loves working with others! All the other stuff...handouts, organization, etc. is important, but without the enthusiasm for sharing what she knows, the rest go by the wayside.

  123. For me, the best teachers are those that allow their students creativity to shine, that encourage students to put their own spin on the techniques being learnt. And who aren't afraid of making mistakes in class. After all, things don't always go according to plan.
    In all classes I certainly appreciate the generosity of time and spirit and passion that teachers invest in the class.

  124. For me, a great teacher goes beyond the techniques and inspires me with the passion that drives her work. While I may not use the techniques in the same way for my own work, it's the "fire in the belly" that I look for. Of course, none of that can come through if there's not the underpinning of structure and planning, so that the mechanics run smoothly.

  125. I am reading these comments with GREAT interest, because I'm always looking for ways to be a better teacher, too. Here are some things I have discovered while teaching AND taking classes:

    First, I never feel completely satisfied unless I get some one-on-one time with a teacher, so I can get her feedback on what I've done, and ask questions.

    I sometimes learn very valuable things from my fellow students. I'm trying to figure out ways to encourage greater participation and interactions between students.

    A well-done critique at the end of classes is valuable, as long as you can keep it positive. Usually I do this by focusing on "what if" – What if you did this or that, instead? And it's not just me critiquing... I try to involve the students, too.

    Last, I avoid or discourage all discussions during class that deal with hot topics, such as religion, politics and social issues. If you are on one side of the fence or the other, you are bound to be distressed or angry, and you are there to learn a particular technique, not to share your opinions. I've seen these kinds of discussions completely derail a class.

    I also love it when the teacher brings lots of her work with her, and there is time to see it up close and ask questions. It doesn't even have to directly apply to the technique or project taught in the class. I find that students want to see everything I do, and to suck up as much information as they can, and get inspiration.

    P.S. I've taken one class with you, and loved it. I think you are already a great teacher.

  126. I think making your classes fun as well as informative is the most important aspect of teaching.

  127. Students attend workshops with a variety of expectations so I think one of the most important things is to get on the same page right off the bat. By that I don't mean that the teacher should drastically alter their lesson plan. Rather, have a quick go around to learn a little about student backgrounds and expectations for the class. Then present your own class objectives. Always leave a little space to address those things that you learn are of particular interest to the individuals (if it makes sense to). Or, alternatively, direct the individual student to another source of information - a book, a specific teacher, etc.

    Actually the preparation begins weeks or months earlier with a detailed class description available to prospective students who will then have a good understanding of what they are signing up for.

    Anyway, that being said, I would take any class from you anytime and be confident that I'd go away from the experience energized and inspired to make art!! Thank you.

    And a very happy and productive 2012!
    Guila Greer

  128. It all starts with an accurate course description. I hate signing up for a class and it turns out to be focused on something other then what was advertised. Second, I want the teacher to explain the technique giving mr new information. I have gone to some classes in which I only received supplies and time. I can do that all by myself at home! Lastly, kind and positive feedback and suggestions. I also need the teacher to be enthusiastic about the subject matter.


  129. Teaching is all about engaging your students immediately.
    1. Have a little goodie bag filled with emphera and paper for note taking. This works well for your students when they sit down and is a great ice breaker for students who do not know anyone.
    2. While they are doodling, talk about your objective for the class.
    3. Talk /demo ten minutes, then have students practice or do something. To much talk is boring (trust me on that one. This is tuff to do but it works) Then you gather back and debrief what went well and what could you do to stretch your self or improve on. Of course you are engaged in all of your students work as you walk around getting to know them.
    4. Laugh Loudly at your mistakes
    5, You cannot forget about treats, candy we all love to snack on candy. Hershey's, lifesavers, rootbeer barrels...
    6. Of course an over packed class full of information/overload. Always be over prepared
    7. Have mini lesson at lunch time (somepeople don't take lunch and like to work through it and a little lesson of ? is great: Maybe how to use a tool?)
    Things NOT to do
    1. Go around the room the first thing and show and tell about themselves. It is fun to do that on your own.

  130. I think 2 factors make for a great teacher:

    1) preparation
    a) before class: an accurate class description and supply lists for what the students need to bring to class, b) in class: student kits (when appropriate), handouts, a handout with links to websites (inspiration, shopping, etc) you are likely to mention or refer to, further reading suggestions.

    2) execution
    a) make sure the class knows that when you are talking (instructing) that no one else should be so that all can hear you
    b) if it's a large class, it's hard to see from the back of a large group crowded around the teacher to watch a demo/technique. if you don't use a video teaching method, have smaller groups come up and watch the demo, and do the demo multiple times.
    c) get around to everyone in the class, not just to the most attention-seeking, to provide feedback and guidance.
    d) do not sit up at the front of the room and do your own work while the class practices something. (yes, i have had a quilting instructor do this and completely ignore the class for over an hour.)

  131. Hi Jane: Ther are so many good comments here that I could echo - but for me, I think a great teacher is honest. I am looking for honest, gentle criticism. And humour - you have to laugh!

  132. Great comments, and I have so many thoughts because I, too, am always striving to make my classes better and more responsive. I'll go through my thoughts, with apologies if they seem scattered...

    1--you already do this: offer constructive critique politely.

    I tend to be defensive of my work from the get-go, and not once in my online classes with you have I had that reaction. Instead, your observations of what was off in my work was spot on every time and excited me. Even if my goal was different from yours, your points were always valid--even if I chose a different end result. And your comments made me think, SEE and learn (save a lot of floundering ab out on my end!)--- Well done!

    2--as a teacher, accept that you cannot be all things to all people at all levels of skill. You need to be true to yourself and your vision of the class (while being open to the idea that the class can be improved)--it is just that a student may want something from you that the class doesn't teach. student...

    2A--This leads to class descriptions. Accurate helps, but even then someone can "read" them the wrong way entirely. I had this happen with a class with a national level teacher/textile artist about 9 years ago. I read the description one way; the class was entirely different. After the class, I re-read the description, and it was totally accurate, but I was able to interpret it in a way that was wholly different.

    3--Generosity of spirit. You've got it.

    I tell my students that I am there for them to pick my brain; even if the question isn't part of the class, I encourage them to ask, saying that if there is time we'll cover that, too. I HATE teachers (had a national level teacher do this) who say "Oh you'll have to take that class" and refuse to answer. I may say, "that's a whole day's worth of instruction, but in a nutshell XYZ." And if I can, give them resources to explore on their own.

    4--Handouts: Jane Davila wrote an article somewhere saying that the handout should recap what you cover in the class so the student can go through it again once home. A good goal!

    For some of my classes (mostly process), I do step-by-step instructions of some things such as bindings. And where to get supplies is also good (need to add that to mine)--many of us can only get stuff via the internet.

    5--There is a difference between what you need to provide in live classes and on-line classes.

    It seems most of the comments here are about "live" classes and are well taken. But online classes (since I've only had you online, and am hoping to write up my first online class) require a bit more in the way of explaining techniques. The equivalent of a slide show with captions or a video goes a long way... how to load a brush with watercolor, how to use a tool and new pen. You can demonstrate those in a class, and help the student one on one.

    But online, one needs to go back in your own mind to the first time you used the tool (even if that was decades ago) and try to imagine what it is like for someone who never used a watercolor brush successfully, then explain HOW.

    As we gain experience, so many things become ingrained, that it is hard to recall that someone might not know what bias is, or how to work wet-on-dry or wet-on-wet, how much is too much liquid, etc.

    Thanks for asking Jane, and for letting me say all this...I've copied the nuggets in these comments that resonate for me and will be looking at my handouts and classes with them in mind, too!

    And I'd love the goodies , Cheers, Sarah

  133. one of the best learning experiences I ever had as a student was years ago in a weaving class I took. Her philosophy about teaching was simple "If you're going to teach something, teach it all, hold nothing back. Don't keep anything about how you use the technique a secret - teach it all". I learned more from her that week than in all the other classes I've taken over the years and her philosophy has become my own when I teach. If I teach something - I teach it all, holding nothing back.

  134. Jane, I think it's ENTHUSIASM. Enthusiasm and passion for a subject are contagious. Add that to a good lesson plan, plenty of class participation, and teacher accessibility, and you have a good start.

  135. In my experience, both as a teacher and as a student, there are two key elements to good teaching: structure and connection. Structure makes students feel safe, and connection makes them feel belonging and validation.

    Structure includes having a plan (and willingness to be flexible on the details) as well as providing the right amount/level of learning for the audience and time allotted. It's also important to be transparent about structure--give students an overview of what will happen when, to reduce anxiety.

    Connection is what will create optimal conditions for learning, as well as make your students remember you and talk about you to others. There are lots of ways to do this (I had a professor once who walked around the classroom to personally introduce himself to every student before the class began), but the key is to connect immediately with the group and then take every opportunity to connect with individuals. One way to connect with the group right away to introduce yourself by telling your own story--providing your human credentials, your "how I got from there to here" story, not just your "authority" credentials.

    Teaching is my growing edge, and I love conversations about it. Thanks for raising this question! I came to your blog after hearing about your upcoming workshop with my friend Patti Digh. Happy 20102 to you!

  136. I'm a 2nd grade teacher and this is what I have learned in my classroom and in the many many art classes and retreats I have been a student in over the years. I have not been fortunate enough to take one of your classes, yet. When I am at retreats I have only heard positive things about your teaching!

    To me it is about the connection-when I connect with a teacher then I walk away feeling more than when I started. When I am the teacher when I connect with a student I walk away feeling more than I started. I have been in large classes and felt that connection & I have been in small classes and felt no connection. (The reality is everyone can not connect to everyone every time.) I have found that teachers that are true to themselves connect more easily. When that connection is there I am more likely to try something new without the fear, to trust in the process, and my inner critic almost disappears.

    So, if you are the type of person who is more relaxed when you have done lots of preparation (handouts, all the possible supplies your students might need, etc.) then by all means prepare away! If you are the type of teacher who loves the unknown and comes to class with an outline of what is to happen ready to take on the challenge of the details on the fly, then do that!

    To connect on line I have found that teachers who are present in the forums & post more often I feel more connected to -that is really the primary way to connect. I do like videos with an online class because I feel I learn so much more watching an artist than only reading. There are little tips/tricks that come out when actually arting that don't usually end up in written instructions.

    Have a wonderful 2012!

  137. Two words - motivation and encouragement. I believe a good teacher delivers both of these. Thanks for the great giveaway opportunity. :)

  138. Dear Jane,
    Great teachers are the ones we remember. Not only for their supportive attitude, but also for their knowledge and competence. Knowing how, when and how much to challenge the individual learner is very important too. Having fun is equally so.
    As a teacher/trainer I used what I call the accordion principle: I would have a core syllabus with lots of supplementary additions up my sleeve for use if needed.
    True this means lots and lots of preparation, but the results have the effect that you won't be able NOT to once you have tried it!
    Having a TRAINING mentor is important too. Find someone with lots of training experience and bounce off your ideas and materials with her.
    Have fun! Good luck, Mlise

  139. Jan Lundy of Buddha Chick is suggesting doing this very thing. Picking a word. A mantra for ourselves for this year. Settling into our silence and feeling what comes to us. I think I've spent the last year hearing my word, hearing my heart speak. I'm not ready for acting. Maybe preparing is the right word. It seems to settle really well into me. You have to know what you need to do, but you also have to be PREPARED to do it. Not just in teaching, but in life.

  140. Enthusiasm for the subject matter would be the one pick that I think makes a great teacher. If the teacher is excited about teaching, I'm excited about learning!

  141. When posed with the ??? what makes a great teacher, immediately I think of my fav teachers over the years (OMG ... even back to high school!!).
    They all share the same traits ... just different subjects (English, Art, Shakespeare - yikes!, quilting, embroidery, mixed-media, etc.)
    1) They are passionate about their subject or 'art';
    2) They are generous in spirit and want to share their passion so seek different ways to successfully communicate/teach to others;
    3) They are students as well as teachers - thrive in an open exchange of ideas and expressions and are inclusive, never exclusive.

    Thanks for the opportunity to win such great giveaways! Happy, creative 2012!

  142. For me the best teacher is the one who watches for, and responds to, the students body language.

  143. Kathy H - Seattle1/02/2012 9:22 AM

    It's always very clear to me in a class when the instructor has worked hard to "craft" a class to be a enjoyable, satisfying experience. The class and materials are well-organized, the activities build on one another and the instructor puts them in context -- e.g. "we're doing this, which will lead to that later in the day..." I tend to work more slowly than many students, so I love it when an instructor says, "You'll have 15 minutes to work on ... Then we'll do..." That may sound like a small thing, but it really helps me keep pace. I also like specific responses to my questions such as "what would you do at this point with this piece?" Not that I want to mimic the instructor, but getting a full response to that question helps learning. Some teachers are hesitant to be specific and give a vague "do what feels right to you... " response. (If I knew what "feels right", I wouldn't ask the question!:-)...

    Love your work -- would love to take a class from you sometime!

  144. A great teacher arrives energetic, prepared, and engaged throughout the class period directly with the students. The best artists are often not the best teachers, because they cannot always articulate their instincts. The greatest teacher is one who can analyze and communicate the method and then meet the students at their level and bring them into a higher understanding of the method and their individual projects.

  145. I have to admit, I'm impressed with all these answers.
    CONTAGIOUS -for me if you want to be effective teaching, teach what you are passionate about, it will translate well to others and they will get it.

  146. What an awesome post! All teachers could benefit from these posts... I see a coffee book in this material! Simply said and assuming the teacher is proficient in the material... I think a great teacher is someone, regardless of the subject, connects with his/her student. Everyone learns and engages more when they feel that the teacher in invested in their success.

  147. Jane, you have a gift for sharing your creative energy with others! I would say that a great teacher remembers when they were a beginner...."beginner's mind" helps us focus on what's important to get across to your students without boring them or pushing them far beyond their capabilities. Plus that passion that keeps you wanting to try new things and share it with everyone you meet! I've always enjoyed your classes, and I know that 2012 will be filled with wonderful things for you and Don! xo

  148. wow! such fabulous, thoughtful and helpful comments! thank you so much! I'll definitely compile this information and keep it close to me. Thank you all, in advance, for helping me to become a better teacher in 2012! Be sure and check back on January 12 for the winner of the give-away. But truly, I'm the winner here with all the advice you've shared with me

  149. I have taken three online workshops with Jane and have learned lots. I enjoy her method of teaching. Lately I have enjoyed online workshops so I can work at my own pace. Jane keeps up with all work and gives great feedback. I do regret that I can't join her in Italy this year, but maybe next time.

  150. Many thanks for the chance to be a lucky winner of your generous giveaway!

    I think a passion for creating is an ingredient that is very important in a teacher (and a student too of course) along with a willingness to share and not hold back.
    I like knowing up front if it is likely that I will end a class with a finished project (many variables for this I realize)
    Having printed handouts does take some pressure off of taking notes in class
    Demos are essential as I am a visual learner and take classes because reading instructions only works to a certain point for me
    Loving what you do goes a long way in every arena of life.

    Happy New Year!
    p.s. thanks to my friend Jean of Bluebirds in the Meadow for sharing this link

  151. Everything has pretty much been covered but I would add one thing. Always change, never teach the same class twice. What I mean is always keep moving forward with new ideas, new concepts. That way you stay interested and the students stay interested as well. I know you do this because you always have fun new art to look at and new inspiration.

  152. Hi Jane. I am a language teacher myself and strive to be better as well. I think a good teacher has a sincere love and enthusiasm for their subject matter. If it is real it can be contagious. Second, I think preparation is very important. I find that the more prepared I am, the freer I feel to relax and even wander away from my plan if needed. In workshops I prefer if the teacher verbally shares his/her information but also has a handout that they pass out later that I can review if need be. Finally, I think a great teacher helps every student to feel successful. This can be accomplished by a warm smile, sincere praise, and lots of encouragement.

  153. Jane, your commitment to ongoing learning is one of your strengths as a great teacher! In my mind, a teacher is someone who consistently strives for more information.
    Excellent teachers are good facilitators who guide their students to discover their own potential.
    Organization, clarity, and enthusiasm for the subject, as well as being able to find the learning style of the student, all make for a great learning experience.

  154. What do I believe makes a great teacher? A great teacher is someone who has a passion for their work. One who is knowledgable, one who can guide the beginner from the beginning to the end and having that student walk out of that class feeling complete and inspired for the future. Handouts are wonderful, examples are a must.

  155. Wow, so many wonderful comments and I agree with most everything, but I’ll try to highlight a few of the points I think are valuable. Of course you are already a wonderful teacher!

    1. People learn in different ways, by hearing, seeing and doing. In my experience as a long- time art teacher of many ages, I think more people learn visually and kinesthetically rather than just auditory. Have examples, posters and handouts with visuals that show steps. People will skip right over words and look at the pictures to figure things out!

    2. When you plan, try to break down the end result into mini steps for both you and students. If there is time, I like to have students practice steps and techniques separately before they begin on the end product. It gives them more confidence.

    3. Have a simply stated, clear Objective, preferably written and posted, that tells students what they will be learning or accomplishing that day.

    4. I love how you give the students an opportunity to introduce themselves and interact at tables as they work. That feel-good camaraderie is so valuable and those connections can help people learn.

    5. As students work, walk and mingle, giving positive, authentic comments and encouragement as well as advice. It doesn’t even have to be in order of their seating, but try to talk to EVERYONE before the class is over. That acknowledgement is so important, even for the pros.

    6. The passion you show for your subject and your sense of humor are both really important factors to your teaching success. Don’t underestimate that.

    7. I’m not sure if I agree with the policy of not marking on a student’s piece. If the purpose of the class is to make a product; then it’s probably not a good idea. But if it’s understood and explained that they are there for the PROCESS and to learn, then sometimes it’s helpful. I try to walk around with a pencil and some scratch paper so that if there is something they are struggling with or that will improve their piece and it’s hard to explain in words, I can show them. But if there is a technique or change that can only be shown directly on the piece, I will ask if I may show them. If they agree, it becomes clearer to them and then they can carry on with understanding.

    8. Group critiques are really valuable if there is time and it seems appropriate. (Call it “Show and Tell” ☺ ) I start with a positive comment, then add kind and legitimate suggestions. Maybe it’s too late to change anything on that piece, but it could be used as advice for future work on their own. Even if there is no time for verbal feedback, just the show and tell part is great. (I know you do this already) It brings closure; and this would be a good time to refer back to the original content objective and ask if we have accomplished that.

    I didn’t intend to write this much, but it actually helps me to remember to do these things myself. A great way to start a new year. Keep up the great work Jane! xxoo

  156. Preparation, skills and passion are all SO important, as is being able to feel into how EACH student learns (from a place of respect, kindness and equality), and to adapt and redeliver what you teach if necessary until each student really flowers. To truly try imagining what they see/feel/understand. Entering THEIR world and then showing them yours. Noticing each nuance of speech, of movement, and responding to their spark. Doing it with humor and grace and from your own authenticity. Ensuring that each student knows they ARE seen, heard and understood.

  157. Carolyn Morgan1/02/2012 1:33 PM

    Hi Jane, A great teacher makes you feel good about what you have to bring to the table AND motivates you to go beyond. A dash of fun and laughter is always welcome!

    Happy 2012!


  158. Jane, in reading thru these comments at random, I see many of the key points I would also suggest. I want to be in your contest for the giveaway though, so I'll leave a comment as well. YOU are an amazing teacher already - you teach, you share openly, you laugh. What I miss, though, is time that I could spend focusing on DOING THE ART, versus trying to take notes and/or record the process/es with my camera. I love a good solid handout. I like to have a "products used" list, too, with source/s included. Your syllabus usually has all that, but for each class -- that is invaluable to a student to take home. So - products, their sources; and an image of the finished project; with the steps all listed. And not just a handout - but something special and colorful to go with it, even if it's just a really cool paperclip to hold it all together and a little snippet of some paper or fabric you've created. Something fun and artsy to liven it up. :-) Davi

  159. Hi a former French tacher for 35 years....I had given a talk on this several times...I'd made a list of the top 10 things.....
    1. a deep and true passion for what you teach! not just teaching because it's something to do to earn money. A truly ecellent tacher really loves what they teach and will pass this on to their students.
    2. patience!!!!! patience!!!patience!!!
    3. committment to excellence,both for yourself and your students
    4. pride in your students and what they accomplish:tell them and show them!
    6. flexibility in your lesson plan always goes as planned!!!!!have options!!!
    7. compassion for your students and what they go through in their lives...many of them have it really tough!
    8. a sense of humor...some days,this will really pull you through!
    9. a willingness to give of yourself each and every day,sometimes until the wee hours of the morning!
    10. remember that you too were once this age!!!

    I have only met you once, Jane...but from what I saw,you have most of these covered!!!
    Looking back on my career.....I'd say that it took me perhaps 10 years to become a really excellent teacher. I was lucky to have had a superb mentor,who really really changed the way I taught,5 years into my career.....she made me realize my passion for French and the French culture.

    I know that you are already a wonderful teacher( and you certainy were patient with my class at Create!)...hope these tips will be useful! we can talk about them in San Miguel!


  160. I've never taken a class from you... yet anyway. One of the classes I've taken at our quilt guild the instructor had us write our names on a piece of paper then tape them on the back of our machines. That way she could call us by name. I really liked that. I also really like it when the instructor comes around and gives advice/ answers questions/ or encouragement to what we are doing.

  161. As a store owner who has hires teachers I can tell you a few things not to do (from bad experiences). Go over a supply list with the store owner, and then stick to it!!!!! Also be observant of what the shop has and don't go recommending something else. One national teacher broke both those rules in the first five minutes. She won't be invited back.

    If you are an artsy type, have mercy on the students who are not. Don't make assumptions or use art terms without defining them. Maybe they are trying something completely new. I once spent a week at a quilt camp that was a disaster because although the literature said they welcomed people without a design background, and that they could teach them design, the reality was that they could not. Have a friend who is more of a math type, proof read your materials, or audit your class.

  162. Responding to the artist, not the art. The best teacher is a coach of the student. Rather than focus on the product, focus/coach the student in the process of creating. Listen and respond.

  163. A good teacher - someone who cares about each individual student. A good teacher respects her students and will spend her time teaching and if need be work with students when class is over. A good teacher sets her students up for success - it is not about the teacher but about the students and their futures.

    I teach GED classes to incarcerated women - I am an educator who is blessed. Marge

  164. I agree with many of the comments here. I love a good handout that will help me take new skills home with me. I really like an engaged teacher who is paying attention to each individual--so if I'm not doing something correctly, I won't take my bad technique home. I really enjoy a class where the teacher facilitates sharing among the students, so we can learn from each other.

  165. A good teacher is prepared, knowledgeable, present in the class mentally and is observant of the students. Increasing students participation, confidence and understanding. At the end of the class you hear," I learned something," then you have done your job.

  166. Wow, Jane....what a treasure trove of answers....all so thoughtful and insightful. It has definitely given me pause to think about what I can do to become a better teacher. Being in the midst of writing about 8 proposals, many of these thoughts will help guide those submissions.

    There is nothing new that I can add that hasn't been said (166 posts later!!)! except to say that personally, my objective in teaching, is to light the fire of passion that makes getting a good night sleep nearly impossible! ( or are those hot flashes?!!!)

    Thanks for being you!

  167. I'm a visual learner, so I appreaciate a teacher who introduces the products they use, its purpose, and illustrates its use.

  168. WOW... what a treasure trove of advice for teachers... I've had a couple of really NEGATIVE teachers, they use words like, don't, wrong, mistake, not.. etc Positive teachers see the value in ALL students, everyone is at a different level and some people need more help/attention than others. A good teacher, LOVES her subject and PEOPLE... a good teacher notices the quiet student as well as the out going personable student. A good teacher is prepared, and yet flexible if the weather or something beyond anyone's control happens. A good teacher will ENJOY the class as much as her students do..
    From these comments and what I've heard about you in the past you are a fabulous teacher, someday I'd like to take one of your classes.

  169. Jenny Walker1/02/2012 7:06 PM

    A great teacher builds a curriculum where the knowledge and technique build upon each other till the student can creatively problem solve using a broad base of skills. A great teacher will use questions rather than answers to facilitate this thinking process. A great teacher helps a student realize the greatest teacher lies within. (using a sketchbook never hurts either) :)

  170. I like to start a class with an outline so that I know where it is going. I like the teacher to explain how to do something and then to show the process. Next I like time to work on the project on my own, but with individual help from the teacher if I need it. I like to get the same information that was presented in handout form to take home, so I can refer to the handout if I forget something.
    I'm sure that you are a marvelous teacher already, but thanks for taking the time to improve.

  171. You said it exactly when you used the word prepared. I don't like time wasted on a teacher fumbling for supplies, or talking about the camera that doesn't zoom well, etc etc... I LOVE lots of technique videos, and the encouragement to relax and not worry about perfection. I love the ah ha moments of "oh my goodness, THAT'S how "they" do it!!!!!!!

  172. my very best teachers have started me on a path with an idea, a brief sketch, a piece of material. add samples of your own works--a collage or blog or idea board, display...and let your muse guide mine to a path of her own to create freely from your jump-start.

  173. Katie in Vancouver1/02/2012 9:14 PM

    preparation and information; a tiny bit of critique, and a lot of inspiration.

  174. Great teachers always remember that they are also students. They say, "I don't know - let's see if we can find out together!" They share their experience (joyfully, thoughtfully, preparedly) but never forget the struggles, fears, and often hard-won pleasures of learning something new. They remember that questions are exciting but can also be scary. They know that to tune an instrument, sometimes you need to tighten the string - add some pressure to avoid procrastination - and at other times you may need to loosen it to let the creativity flow.

  175. Good preparation is a sign of a good teacher BUT an excellent teacher is one who INSPIRES a learner. May you continue to inspire others.

  176. Jane, it's hard to imagine that you could be a better teacher than you already are!

    In terms of preparedness, I like handouts, especially if they include links to blogs and websites that the instructor especially likes or recommends. (I am sliding off into marketing ideas, but I know students would appreciate a signed postcard with an image of your work, and a comment about the student's strengths at the end of the class. Include your twitter, facebook, blog, class, teaching schedule and web links.)

    Preparedness might include making a checklist for each class with a complete list of class supplies that you can double check as you organize for the class. If you prepare a list well in advance for each class you will also be more aware of your inventory of handouts and supplies which would help you avoid last minute surprises. If you want to go really wild with the checklists there is a free "mind manager" program called MindMeister that is very useful.

    You are an excellent communicator, and a few emails with links to your blog entries on topics to be included in the class might be helpful to some. Just a little advance instruction might make your job easier.

    Why don't you sit down and relax with a cup of tea, or whatever you want, and think about the questions that you are asked most often in class. Write them down and see if there are patterns or categories. You could even have a page of FAQ's in the handout so that people would not keep asking you the same questions. Remember to include your contact information and appropriate web links on the handout. You never know when someone will pick up that handout in a year and think, "I want to take more of her classes!"

    Preparedness could include mental and spiritual preparedness, but you seem so relaxed and "in the flow" in class that you must have already mastered that. I've only taken one class from you but I thought you were well-prepared or very good at faking it. :)

    Donna J

  177. Great comments, and a great goal. Lots of good ideas already posted on learning styles, preparation, flexibility, critiques, summation...

    Are there other people who teach non-degree adult textile workshops who wish there was a forum where we could exchange ideas about the craft of teaching? What would you think about a Facebook group?

  178. As both a teacher and a student I think the first and foremost aspect of a great teacher is the connection made with the students. You need to be an inspiration for your students so that they really want to perform for both you and themselves. I think you need to ability to ease people out of their comfort zone and fell like they are safe to take the risk of moving into the learning zone. Things like clear steps and organised learning are essential. Your students need to be built up and encouraged that they are able to move ahead and go on to trust in themselves. A great teacher recognises that they are only one tool in their students' pathways and instils in the student a love and passion for learning and exploring.

  179. A good teacher values and acknowledges each student as if they were the only one in the class.

  180. Happy New Year Jane!! Enthusiasm or passion are important. Think you have these for sure! Also, I personally love hand outs.

  181. Happy New Year Jane!

    I think a good teacher is someone who loves to learn and demonstrates that to his/her students. They are well prepared but are flexible enough to mould the class to the specific students in a class so that they can be taken from where they are into new and wonderful places (gently pushing beyond the boundaries the students may have self imposed). A great teacher will motivate, encourage and celebrate the achievements of the students.

    As much hands-on activity as possible is needed to allow the students to explore and consolidate the learning.

    Perhaps an equally important trait of a great teacher is a sense of humour :D

    Handouts are great to take away with you but should be given out at the end or during the class (as needed) so that students are focussed on the teaching and learning and not distracted by reading things they can read later.

  182. Happy New Year! I feel a good teacher gives concise, specific feedback and teaches techniques by showing how possibly multiple times. Learning from students is not essential but nice.

  183. A good teacher is one, who teaches what s/he lives. From all her heart. All the structure, preparation and handouts are just the embellishment.

  184. I feel a "good" teacher teaches from the heart and has the ability to guide the students potential to greater heights than they ever thought possible. Loving what you teach ALWAYS shines through spreading ripples forever outward.
    Dianne in Aust

  185. Jane Evasiuk1/03/2012 3:09 PM

    Dear Jane~
    (believe it or not, this was composed before reading the last few comments :) )
    When you teach from your heart, something you LOVE and have experienced, you make connections with the students. In this way you have given much thought and preparedness to your class. They are encouraged and inspired and then believe in possibility for themselves!
    Would love to win, but appreciate this very thought pondering question and the memories it evokes~

  186. At this point in my art and workshop life, I often question whether I really need another class or workshop, but when I do decide to sign up, my hope is that the inspiration I get from the instructor's ideas and projects and the other students' too will be worth the price of admission.
    It's easy to come up with what makes a teacher not-so-good. What makes a good teacher is a little trickier. It's often the intangibles that make the teacher good. It may be the encouragement, the creativity specific to that instructor, handouts that serve later as a reminder of how to get started when you get home and try to revisit the workshop a month or more later and can't remember where you began (though you thought you'd never forget!) Thoroughness without being pedantic, the ability to meet each student at his/her own level while not spending inordinate time with any one faction in the class to the detriment of the remainder of the class, a knowledge of and enthusiasm for the topic...all of these things contribute to a great experience in the classroom or workshop. A pet peeve is buying specific supplies listed in the syllabus and not using many of them. When the instructor is adaptable enough to cover everything she'd intended and 'promised' - I'm pleased and impressed. It's not easy!

  187. Enthusiasm!
    A great teacher loves what she is doing. You can teach facts or techniques but if there is no passion or enthusiasm the students won't want to do it. You always share this with your students, Jane. I love it. Keep it up. My gosh. 187 comments before mine. Remember the day there was one or two. You say you live for comments. I hope you are enjoying your life.

  188. I think preparation is key in providing a great class. Making sure that the class will provide a challenge for the more advanced students while giving enough support to the newer ones. And, I really enjoy a class when the instructor can take something that isn't quite working and tweek it so that the results are great. This takes someone that can look at a project from all angles, see the way the pieces fit, and provide the same insight to the student. I have learned the most from this type of teacher.
    And, please don't have me buy things that we are not going to use. If it is something that would be fun to experiment with, but isn't required for the project, I think that it should be covered in the price of the class or be available for purchase during class.

  189. The best advice a teacher can give is.. You can do it.

  190. If your DVD is anything to go by, you are an awesome teacher already! I haven't had the pleasure of an online class yet but it's on the wish list. And the fact that you're asking for comments shows your commitment to excellence.

    One of the difficulties I have particularly with online workshops is when the supply lists are sent a week or two prior to commencement. I often have to order supplies from overseas and even with air post (very expensive) they don't arrive until at least the second week. Just when you're full of enthusiasm you have to wait ages to get started.

    I also like handouts to be complete so that when I pull out the UFO in several months time, I can read the handout, figure out where I am up to and the steps required to finish the project.

    Jacqui (in Auckland,New Zealand)

  191. The best teachers I've had are engaged with what they are teaching; are real about what they know and don't know (no putting on airs); and they are well organized, having thought through what the student will need to complete any assigment. I appreciate that you are asking for input--that is a very good trait--always being a learner. Thanks for the give-away!

  192. PositiveVibes!!!!! Anyone can give out material and say its a class, but the instructors I love to be with time and time again are REAL. They live what they say and they bring with them and energy that motivates the whole class. A teacher who can say positive honest comments and bring about change and improvement in each student is worth their weight in gold.

  193. What a GREAT question, Jane. Thanks. For me, a great teacher is someone who (in no particular order)
    ... loves and is passionate about their subject/project
    ... provides solid resources for student follow-up (bibliography, hand-outs, website/blog links)
    ... has extra supplies in case students forget/didn't get all their supplies
    ... encourages students to ask questions and contribute answers
    ... provides space/time to stretch and breathe
    ... is vulnerable and open
    ... is sensitive to students who don't "catch on" quickly
    ... has done his/her preparation well in advance so knows their topic/project well enough they don't need to be constrained by reading their notes
    ... has a sense of humour
    ... is comfortable in their own skin
    ... is open to learning from his/her students
    ... explains clearly and stays on subject/project (doesn't get too far off-track)
    ... is well versed/experienced/knowledgeable-about their subject/project
    ... challenges their students
    ... nurtures the creativity already present in each student
    ... models a spirituality of play so that participants have fun and remember their child-within

    (Thanks to Lisa Engelbrecht for telling me about you and this wonderful question --- and possibility of getting a copy of your DVD!)

  194. I could write for hours on this topic about general methods of preparing and delivery (session plans, handouts, practical application, home practice etc etc)...and I will write some on this.

    However, the most important feedback that I receive as a tutor, is that I am not afraid to tell students exactly what they need to change in order to improve. Most teachers go around only patting students on the back - these are the kind of teachers I refer to as the "want to be liked tutors". They run classes, they demonstrate, they help students get through exercises, but they never actually enable their students to really learn - because they do not tell them what they need to change. Sometimes this is not an easy thing to do - and you need to do it with delicacy and encouragement to ensure the student stays motivated. But it is really important if you want the student to develop their own ability properly.

    Otherwise, they will only ever be able to do, exactly what you show them.

    This includes helping them to see what they at first cannot see (i.e. you cannot know what you don't know).

    This includes teaching the same things but in many different ways to cater for different learning styles and different ways of thinking.

    I always try to allow time to read handouts as well as talking to them as some students learn by reading, some by hearing, some by seeing images, some by doing, some by a mix of all of these.

    Being a good teacher also means getting to know what your students are there for - some just want to do fun exercises so they have something to take home (i.e. they don't actually want to learn anything, they are just there for the fun and a sense of achievement through a final project), others are hobbyists who want to learn enough to do whatever it is they want to do, others are more serious and really want to develop skills and their own ability to a high standard...

    This means you have to be prepared to have handouts that take students on the journey that is appropriate for them - I have different levels on my handouts and students can do as much or as little as suits them. If they are serious, then I give them plenty of tools to progress with, along with constant feedback on what they need to do better, what else they could study etc.

    But, no matter how good the tutor is, you will never ever please every student. Some students want everything handed to them on a platter - sometimes that is not appropriate, so they may leave the class feeling dissatisfied. Sometimes learning may take years to come to fruition - so they may feel unhappy initially, but over time they will get the message. This could be something as simple as working with discipline, or developing layout skills over time, or working more slowly to enable things to come down to the page properly.

    Another thing that is important is a clear message about what will be covered in a workshop - what materials are needed and what are the pre-requisite skills. I hate it when I spend money, don't use the tools, don't learn what it says in the outline and go away feeling like I wasted my money on a tutor who advertised false promises!

    I suspect I will run out of room shortly, so a final comment...session plans should be based around the skills you want students to learn rather than the projects you want to give them - most write the wrong way around...determine the goal and then write the session plan that gets there. But feel free to ask me for anything extra you might want to know....there is just not enough room here to write a whole book on teaching!

  195. The willingness to go above and beyond the job description.


  196. I like a class where the steps are demonstrated and explained by the teacher, then given time to try ourselves. I also like having a handout of the steps that I can add my own notes to during class, this helps me remember when I go home and try on my own.
    I have one of your videos on sketchbook art and really enjoy it and refer to it ofter.

  197. What a delight to discover your blog! I look forward to expanding my world of art with you!

    Critical components for excellent teachers include creating an environment in which the student has a format to express him/herself openly and honestly, to challenge current skills/perceptions/beliefs, and to find joy in the process of what is being taught either at the time, and/or in the future. Great teachers share their knowledge and experience, allowing students to 'stand on their shoulders' and spring board into new directions. Wonderful teachers invite students to be who they are and acknowledge the positive contributions they are capable of contributing to the world.

  198. Hi Jane, Happy New year to you!! I am looking forward to having you as my lovely teacher in a few weeks!! As a teacher/professor for 30 years,yikes!!! I have loved reading the comments about teaching. Here is my 2cents worth-I do love handouts for the class, the random trade items that sometimes happens when like minded students bring things to share--sort of "someone elses trash is my treasure!" and I would also say that after all the preparation, I still think flexibility/spontaneity is a key to good teaching. Being able to teach in the moment, with whatever has preseneted itself in class--sort of teachable moment, which means the well made plans may be postponed to jump on the idea that is just begging to be taught at the moment. Cheers to a lovely new year!

  199. I take workshops and classes to:
    -have FUN exploring my creativity (I am often on vacation)
    -be inspired and guided along
    -experiment with materials and learn techniques to improve my skills
    -work in a group with like-minded people.
    As much as I want to have fun, I am dedicated and work hard to get the most out of our time together.

    To choose a class or workshop:
    -I look at the instructor's course description and samples
    -always visit their website to see if their artwork appeals to me.

    I believe a good teacher is:
    -someone with a positive outlook who is confident and secure in their skill but still humble
    -friendly, easy going and humorous
    -able to explain techniques by breaking them down into simple steps
    -able to draw from their experience to deliver tips (magic nuggets) = aha moments
    -encouraging, gives individual feedback and can make suggestions for improvements or alternatives.

    Things I like:
    -a course plan or description, so I have an idea of what's coming up
    -written lessons with photos showing demo in stages and examples, short and succinct text (yours are terrific)
    -Video demos would be great for online courses
    -Exercises or practicing, however, I also like to have a mostly completed piece by the end, it gives me a lot of satisfaction.

    Things I don't like:
    -excessive selling of their paintings, materials etc.
    -no direction, wishy washy
    -being stuck on one aspect and not moving along
    -letting one student take all their attention
    -stern approach, no patience
    -unsure and timid teaching style
    -handouts that are solid pages of text, no layout or photos

  200. Every classroom as at least one problem student. We all know who they are: the needy student, the know-it-all, the chatter-box, etc. A great teacher is able to appropriately manage these students. In doing so, it gives all the students access to the teacher and the information they have come to class to learn.


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