Monday, January 30, 2012

NewsFlash on Teaching Expectations Straight from the Mat

Already I'm breaking my new mode but this info is too good not to put out there, it's long but value packed, a true story. The New Skills Monday lesson from The Mat.

I want to talk to you straight from my heart and hope you don't feel it is coming straight from my six shooter hip. I want to talk about these things to help you avoid uncomfortable circumstances in the future.
Professionally I'm under a bit of pressure and it is all due to miscalculated expectations.
Someone expected me to do as they thought I should and didn't take into account I might have something to say about it.
I was asked my opinion what I thought of what they were planning to do, would it work?
I said politely and with explanation why I wasn't willing to be part of the construction of this project:
it was for a class with another teacher not yet started with them or really discussed...
poorly executed pattern with no room to represent facial features
I would need to work super super hard and so would the hooker if the project was not corrected before it began and truly didn't think I could overcome design flaws inherent with some serious perspective issues
I did offer help in many other ways, doing the project at hook-in over a long term, doing it bigger... blah blah blah, doing something else at rug camp with this unknown teacher...
I know this person well and knew there would be fireworks. 
And there were.  I said I respected their right to do the rug as they wished and in turn I wished to be respected in my desire to not work on it with them.
It is pretty unusual for a rug teacher to do this here and consequently there are tales abounding about my horrible behaviour even months later. Some are stirring the fire and talking from both sides of the fence, yapping to the hooker about how vile I am and then yapping to me about how right I was.
I feel like getting a tattoo on my forehead saying:
  (You can get this great plaque here.)
I'll tell you what... this whole experience has made me seriously rethink my open door policy at my home. And the biggest epiphany I had was how this dear hooker, and I do really care for her, though I doubt I'll see her again, tells me of her every rug school experience... she never learns a thing. It is no surprise why.
 I want to save you some of these troubles and I've made you a little list as a student how you can avoid this and there is a list for teachers too.
I so want to hear any suggestions you have on the matter from both sides, let's be nice. We have all had rough goes.
I've got my situation straightened out to my liking, holding fast to my boundaries no matter the apparent shit storm it has raised but who needs this? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Be thoughtful and polite, slow to anger and quick to joy.


Don't put so much pressure on yourself to "have something ready to go at class start"
A rug camp can be so productive and enjoyable if you simply do a series of tiny learning studies based on the teacher's info. You will actually learn more this way. Or if what you really need is some good old company, they just hang loose. Some people get like Lucy on the chocolate factory production line before camp from the pressure to produce. Don't be stuffing chocolates down your shirt and pants ok?
If your teacher tells you something, like in this class please only use certain patterns or cuts or colours and you don't want to, get to another class that suits you better, ok? Why go and then get ugly?
When you are picking a teacher to learn from, look at their work, do you admire they way they hooked what you want to learn? Do they have the talent to help you reach your goal?
Do you have enough talent (and or balls to stetch yourself) to do the project you wish to right now or is it something that might go on a wish list as you build your skills up right now? Never hooked a shaded flower? Maybe the rug 40 dozen roses is not good choice right now.... 
You have every right to hook what you want to and how you want to, but ask yourself, why are you in this class if you are doing whatever you want to, aren't you already doing this at home?
Make sure you understand your learning style and your desired outcome from class, do you want to be told what to put where or do you want to know why to put that there? Both are fine, just seek out that person who will give you what you need.
If you are taking a class with a teacher, consult with them, not your home teacher, nor the camp director, nor your neighbour.
If your teacher is a specialist in animals don't expect to learn about your abstract landscape
If your teacher tells you there is no time in her BIG class for her to help you to do something complex, you should believe her.
Just because the teacher hooks something in her own hooking life doesn't necessarily translate that she wants to teach it. Be clear about your wishes and listen to hers.
If the teacher has a class about hooking in her write up, don't think when you read her name it will be about dyeing. You will be disappointed unfortunately.
If you take a class from a teacher once, don't think you've learned all they have to offer.
Some teacher though teach the same things over and over, just look at their work to tell them apart.
Make sure when you say you want to learn, you really do. Deal with any resistance that arises in you from being pushed beyond what you know and are comfortable with like a grown up. Learning feels uncomfortable sometimes, all good teachers know this but they are not therapists.
Make doubly, triple sure you really do want to hear what might be said when you ask for an opinion. Are you strong enough to take whatever is offered? Do you know how to agree to disagree like a lady or gentleman and not take umbrage?
Make sure you are not asking someone for an opinion who doesn't know their nose from their nails.
Generally the best advice I'd give is ask lots of questions in your teacher's area of expertise, not just about your project but for the whole class to benefit from.
Be thoughtful and polite, slow to anger and quick to joy.


I want to set you free. You cannot be all things to all people and that is the wisest thing to remember.
Your style is not for all everyone, don't feel badly if you didn't reach your goal of a room full of happy students, some may not have been very happy to begin with.
Have your specialities and stick to it. You are not a transformer.
Be sure to continue to learn and grow though.
Have good boundaries, you could say yes to the Elvis on Black Velvet replica rug in your  barnyard class but at what cost to you and the other students?
Be sure you always operate with a contract, no exceptions.
Be sure you understand your students are adults and they are not there for you, you are there for them.
Get a good, wide base of knowledge in hooking and in art and the support of your peers so you can consult with difficult hooking problems.
Be professional, both to other teachers and to your students, they are not your friends in this capacity.
Don't gossip.
Fun? Remember that? Have some.
They may never remember what you taught them but they will always remember how you treated them. But as in my case, do not be a willow but an oak, stand tall in your own mission statement.... what kind of teacher do you want to be ? Find out and stick to it.
It will help you make decisions, does this action I'm being asked for fit in with my long term goals?
Your own judgement is the best. For some kind and respectful delivery of "unwanted" info works well. For others there is no way to impart any "less than" news that is welcome.
You cannot court the crowd to try to please them so as not to have any bad talk about you.
There will be talk and not all of it good if you are doing your job to of teaching and providing growth experiences.
You should not expect credit of any kind, the feeling that no help was given by the student is the mark of having done a good job. They have subsumed what you taught them into their being. I was reminded of that today by my good friends and fellow teachers Jean and Loretta.
Only take jobs your heart is fully in
Don't complain ( I'm still learning this one because I love air conditioning while I work)
Oh and and again.... could you try to be fun and have fun, being a teacher is part circus, part spectacle and part professor. Strike a balance.
My word ( pun intended) I have got to try to keep these New Skills more brief or I'm going to have include eye glasses with your subscription!
Got anything to add to the list? 
No names please one man's wonder teacher/ student is another's horror.
Tell it like it is Matters in your most RAK filled way, with respect, appreciation and kindness.


  1. Oh, January! You foul beast of a month...bringing out all our insecurities, foibles and anxiety. Why do we even make an effort when we should all go into hibernation for a month and sleep off all the things we ate in December and emerge on a mild day in February to sniff the air and decide "This will be a good day! I am ready again for whatever the world throws at me!"

    I went to a seminar where the speaker said that all he ever needed to know he learned from book covers. His favorite book cover to date was "Boundaries". Many people have trouble with this...not understanding what boundaries are for themselves and for other people. Robert Frost understood it.

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. I am glad, Wanda, that you have boundaries and you recognize them. So many of us learn this lesson the very hardest of ways. Students have responsibilities and so do teachers. Neither can be all things to all people. Do not fret over this. Set it aside and continue in your highest behavior as always. You can't please everyone and some folks are just not used to being told "no". Thank God we are all different and see things different ways. I wonder what the students perspective will be after her class and if she will ever be satisfied with this project. Hugs!

  2. Believe it or not this transpired in Late Sept. and just bubbled up in this foulest of months. It was a wonderful experience and taught me so much. Thank you Caryn!