The Inner Struggle of Teaching


 I LOVE teaching! I actually beginning prepping for an upcoming class weeks ahead of time, partly because I am OCD and need to be super, duper prepared, but mostly because I am just that enthusiastic about teaching!  I look so forward to the actual day when I am able to walk into the classroom and share a morning, afternoon, or entire day with those that are willing to endure my instruction for a length of time and share in my passion.  But I cannot ignore the fact that prior to every session I teach my mind starts the playing “The Doubting Game”.  images-111

And here is how this game plays out.  I gaze upon my class roster, I look at what I am teaching that day and the wheel starts spinning.

At the first spin the wheel stops on:

Will it be worth their time?  







After all these students have paid to sit before me and learn something.  I always to strive to give my student quality instruction.

Next spinner lands on:

Will they absorb the information I am trying to convey?  I can prepare materials, go over what is being taught in my head and feel confident that I am going to nail the information I will present. But then that nagging uncertainty creeps in and this is what I always fear will be looking back at me when the day is upon me (and I will see about 15-25 of these faces)


Then the spinner slowly falls upon:

Are my students enjoying what they are learning?  Let’s face it these individuals should enjoy their time of being educated.  No one wants to sit in a classroom and feel like they are sitting before Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.


Ah, NO way! I want my students to have a great time AND learn!

Lastly, the wheel comes to a halt at:

Was this class productive?  Did my class give my students what they expected, and wanted over the last several hours AND for what they paid for?  I want these quilters to exit my session feeling as though they have gained at least a few new tools, and concepts.  My inner voice has me wondering if they will all  feel better equipped to take tackle their design.images-99

For me the major challenge of teaching is creating an environment where I give those before me the opportunity to learn, and feel empowered to take the next step in the quilting journey.

This is what I hope to witness at the end of each lecture, or class.


For all my fellow instructors out there, do you have an aspect of teaching that you find most challenging? If so do tell!

12 thoughts on “The Inner Struggle of Teaching

  1. Sometimes I over teach when helping friends with a new quilt pattern. Instead of starting at where I know they are, I want to start reviewing some basics that they well know.

  2. I don’t teach quilting, but I used to be a high school French teacher (loved it!). I can say, though, that you’ve nailed it in the classes I’ve had from you: well worth the time/cost, informative, FUN, and left me with new tools to use in my own quilting!

  3. I think my worst enemy when teaching is self doubt!! When I let that creep in, it can take over!!! I love teaching though, so I just keep on shoving that self doubt aside!!!
    You are a wonderful teacher!!!

  4. I find teaching free motion to my students challenging as I always seem to run into folks from time to time that want to know the “secret”… to doing free motion. Than I go ahead and tell them there is NO “secret”, it takes practice and more practice.. And theres always a few that looks for the shortcut and that unattainable “secret”, which to me is frustrating because they keep looking and asking for the “secret”.. I suspect that most people that teach free motion classes probably runs into this.

  5. As one of your former students, I can tell you that for me you certainly met and exceeded all my expectations and desires for the class in Spokane! Because of your classes, I approach my quilting from another angle and that is wonderful!!! Stop spinning the crazy spinner cuz you are one of my favorite teachers (along with Angela Walters and Karen McTavish) – I cherish all I have learned from all of you!!

  6. Never doubt yourself, Lisa, because as a student of yours, you have one of THE BEST classes out there! You are great at giving your presentation, at explaining and at letting go so that we can try it out and then experience what you’ve taught and ask questions as we go! You are a fantastic teacher!

  7. I agree with jdonovan62.

    There are so many aspects to teaching but the one thing my students love is my passion and enthusiasm for FMQ. The hardest thing to deal with is timing. Students need breaks and you’re trying to cram all your knowledge into 10 hours or so. Then you have unexpected things crop up like a machine that is acting like a bit of a diva.

    Years ago, I got so worried about not giving my students value for money (even though my head told me I was) that my class notes included everything I covered in the course and then some…80 pages worth for each student. It’s now down to about 14 pages.

    I break down FMQ to four basic techniques and it is much easier for them to learn. I found it interesting I developed the power of looking at a student’s technique and before my brain processed what the problem was, I’d already said it out loud.

    The funniest thing about my classes is that when I analyse a student’s work, I’ll say that this quilting over here is really good. Look at how far you’ve come…then I realise that was where I was showing the student how to do something and it was my quilting!

    One thing I’ll say about teaching is that you learn a lot about how and why you do what you do and that you learn as much from your students as you teach them. It’s so rewarding!

  8. as students we’re so focused on the challenges and what we feel, most often we don’t think about how it is for the teachers. It’s very interesting to see how the lectures go in the teacher’s mind, thank you for bringing this interesting perspective. From what you’ve told you sound like a teacher who genuinely cares about what’s best for the student, your students are lucky.

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