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Someone, whether through a book, a tutorial online, in a classroom or maybe even someone special in your life taught you how to create something out of practically nothing. With their guidance, you learned the skills you needed to make all the things you make today. How would you like to make a difference in someone’s life by teaching them what you know?

There are lots of great reasons to take up the challenge of teaching:

 Helping the community

By helping other creative people to learn new techniques your contribution goes well beyond the individual person.

 Learning more about your craft

By teaching others, you’ll solidify your own techniques and probably learn some new things along the way too.

 Earn extra money

Having a new income stream is a great reason to start teaching!

However, sharing what you know can also be a daunting proposition. For many artists there are very real fears, hesitations, and uncertainties that can get in the way of exploring the possibility of teaching.

Fear of creating your own competition

This is a favorite among artists. Now, I’m not saying this never happens. In fact, the reason this fear exists is because it has happened before. However, there are some simple ways to dissuade new students from directly competing with you:

 Focus on teaching the technique first. Students need to learn the foundations of the craft first and foremost. Follow up with a simple project that utilizes their new skills.

 When talking about design, teach in general terms. Ask them lots of questions about what they like when it comes to design and help them find their way according to their personal taste.

 If the student asks to learn how to make one of your original designs, politely decline and offer to help them make a project taken from a book or tutorial online instead. They are there to learn new skills to create their own work. Be sure you are both on the same page from the very beginning of your time together.

 Remember that you will always be years ahead of any student you teach at a beginning level. Strive to keep improving your own techniques and designs and you’ll never have to worry about any student taking your audience away from you.

Unsure About Your Qualifications

Unless you are teaching a proprietary technique that requires certification in order to teach, it is likely that you don’t need formal qualifications to teach what you know. Some of the most important qualities that a teacher must have are:

 Proficiency in the technique you are to teach. The more confident you are with your skill, the easier it will be to teach others the basics.

 A willingness to share the lessons you’ve learned along the way. This could mean sharing some shortcuts to quickly improve results and maybe some supplier resources along anything else you’re comfortable with sharing.

 Understand your own learning style and think about how you can present your lessons to people with a learning style that is different from your own. A good place to start your research is http://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/

Fear of taking too much time and energy away from your own work

If your time is limited to the hours you can spend producing your own work then finding room in your schedule to teach might not be a priority. But, if you find that you are in a bit of a stagnant place creatively, you might find it interesting that one of the surprising benefits of teaching is new creative energy that oftentimes inspires new work. Make time for it all by:

 Scheduling specific days and times for teaching. Offer private classes or group classes on certain days of the week.

 Organizing a general lesson plan for your classes. Then tailor each class to the needs of your students.

 Be sure to pace your classes. Try not to teach everything all at once. Break up your classes into smaller sections if your students seem overwhelmed by the end of your first session.

Teaching is so much more than just giving away lessons learned. When you share your knowledge, you gain confidence as an artist and continue the cycle of learning that drives our community forward. If you have the inclination to teach, I encourage you to give it a try. You just might be surprised at how rewarding it can be!


Marlo Miyashiro — Creative Arts Consulting
Marlo has been in the retail and wholesale handmade craft industries for over 20 years, creating and selling her line of hand-fabricated sterling silver jewelry to over 200 stores across the country and abroad. She enthusiastically shares the knowledge she has gained along the way by helping artists learn how to make jewelry, grow their small businesses and improve their small object photography.

Catch up Marlo M. on her new and improved blog:  http://imakecutestuff.com

Learn more about her consulting services at http://CreativeArtsConsulting.com


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6 comments on “To Teach or Not To Teach – Is That the Question?”

  1. This is a subject near and dear to my heart! I have been a teacher in a creative field (professor of music for going on 13 years now), who teaches very talented undergraduate and graduate students. It has only been in the last few years that I have started my own media business, a production company and a handmade business. In addition to Marlo’s excellent advice above, I can certainly say that if you have the teaching “bug” you’ll know quickly – you’ll feel exhilarated after (most) sessions, and learn so much from your students. I always say I learned little as a student but TONS as a teacher! If you feel something isn’t working, don’t feel like you have to know “everything” – there’s no such thing. But do ask students what works for them and get as much feedback as you can. Even seasoned teachers have students or classes that don’t “gel” or “get it” and the advice about learning styles is well heeded. If it turns out not to be your thing, as artists we all need to be willing to stop pouring energy into projects or practices we “think” we need to do, and refocus from time to time. In other words, starting to teach doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment, if it isn’t feeding you intellectually or artistically let it go and be richer for the experience.
    Hope some of the amazing artists I’ve had the pleasure to “meet” through their work will give it a try – for purely selfish reasons! Teachers remain students for life, and you just might see me in your class… 🙂

  2. Thanks for the super post Marlo!

    Renee! Thank you so much for sharing! I really loved that you shared your experience too. A friend of mine teaches high school and she had a class that did not gel this year and it has been very difficult for her but she knows the previous 9 years were different and so will future ones. I think this post plus your comments will be a great resource for people to check when they start to questions themselves.

  3. Thanks for this post, Marlo!

    I’m ramping up to teach my first class this year & it really helped settle my mind a bit 🙂

    I’m going to be teaching a younger age group (13-16yrs old) and have been brainstorming ways to adjust my material for teens to keep them engaged.

  4. I am so happy to hear that this post helped you Laura! I just checked out your site and love your “About” page! Good luck with your new class!

  5. What a great post!!
    I’d really like to organize courses too (always loved to teach), in the future and well, these are for sure some of the things I often ask to myself.

    Great points!
    I’d love to hear more about this topic 🙂

    Wish a great week end all!

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