Taking Classes

Last Updated 10/14/09

From Judi K:

Get there a bit early, see if you can help the teacher set up, and put your stuff in a nicely situated seat so you get the best view of the demonstrations. You can even say to the teacher that you're a beginner and you want to make sure you sit in a good location and ask where that will be. Arriving late is a real problem for the other students, for the teacher, and for you (you'll get the worst seat and you'll probably miss some of the information).

You need to be comfortable, so take a pillow to sit on and a bottle of water - or whatever it takes to help you stay focused. Eat some protein before class, make sure you get some rest and aren't exhausted when you arrive. These things sound silly, but they're really important.

Take tools and supplies you don't think you'll need. Even if scissors are supplied, it might be one pair for every two or three people - and sharing can really slow you down. Take some stamps, tape, assorted embellishments, anything you can think of that might be useful - that way if you work faster than others you won't get stuck waiting, you can use the time to make other things.

Take paper and pencil and take notes. Ask the teacher to repeat something so you can write it down. Ideally, teachers will give you a handout with all of the information you need later - but even if they do, your notes in the margins will be what help you recall the things that aren't in the writing.

Watch the teacher's hands! What the teacher SAYS is sometimes not an exact "match" to what the hands are doing. For example, if I say "heat the Shimmer Sheetz till it's soft" but I forget to say "look at how it also gets cloudy and notice that I'm moving the heat tool in a slow circular motion" it's the hands that will give you that second piece of information. Remember that teachers are trying to make sure that 6-20 people are all getting information and having fun. I work very hard to say exactly what I'm doing, but till you do it yourself MORE THAN ONCE you won't truly be able to duplicate what I demonstrate - so remember that you might not be as good as the teacher during the class...give yourself time to practice both during the class and in the days and weeks and months after!

If you're shy about asking questions, work really hard to get over it! The teacher can't know what you wish you wanted to ask - and chances are good that whatever you want to ask is exactly the same question as another shy person wants to ask.

Storeowners want you to have a great experience and they work hard to hire good teachers, but sometimes there's a dud (a person who isn't prepared or is trying to teach something they don't know). If you get a dud, privately go to the storeowner and explain why you felt there was a problem - you might get another class as an apology. However, sometimes the teacher/student match isn't right and it's not you or the teacher, it's just the wrong day to try to learn something new. In that case, think of it as having gone to a movie you didn't like. There was nothing wrong with the movie or with you.

Say things like "I can't see that from over here, could you do it again closer to where we're sitting?" or "We couldn't hear what you just said, would you repeat it please?" If the teacher is talking to half of the students her back might be turned and she'll need to say the same information a second time - and you are not wrong to remind her.

If you have questions that are way off the topic or might keep the teacher from finishing all the information needed in the time allowed, write down your question and ask it after class while you're helping the teacher clean up.

(Is it spring? A chipmunk just arrived on the wall outside my studio window)

If you're someone who wants to make your project just like the sample, try to notice the little things - the angle of a bow, the proportions (is the border very narrow or is it wide), whether there is a thick layer of glitter or only a hint. If you're someone who wants to learn theory more than duplicating the teacher's sample, go in your own direction - there is no law that you have to go home with exactly the same thing as other people! In other words - you get to make the class what you need it to be as long as you're not keeping someone else from getting information.

This brings me to a delicate topic: Classes are FUN and fun usually includes snacks and talking and getting noisy - BUT please make sure that you don't talk while the teacher is trying to tell the group something and look at the demonstration while it's in progress rather than looking down at your own work during that time, even if it's hard to stop what you're doing and you're really having a good time talking to the person on your left! It sometimes amazes me that a group of adults will ask me to show them something five times, not because they don't understand (because then I'll show it twenty times!) but because they're chatting instead of watching what I've asked them to stop and watch...

Tell the teacher and storeowner what you liked! If there's an evaluation form, fill it out and be honest. No teacher or storeowner can fine tune a class without hearing feedback - I've worked really hard to be a good teacher and it's feedback from students that has helped me at every step.


Get there early

Take notes

Ask questions

Watch what the teacher does as well as listening to what is said


Have faith in yourself! Human beings are inherently creative. If you don't care about outcome and just enjoy the process, the outcome will usually surprise you and make you happy!!!!

Stamping is not a competitive sport (a stamp on one of my sheets, but also something I believe)

HAVE TONS OF FUN - you deserve it!

By supporting stamp store classes you make sure that stamp stores will be there! It's really important to have a place to learn with people in the same room, as well as on line and at conventions.

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