In Part 1 of this article, you read about how to prepare for a knitting or crochet class, and you’ve gotten yourself to class. The things you have done to this point will enhance your ability to learn new skills .
Now let’s explore what you can do during and after class to learn as much as you can, and to remember what you learned long after class is over.
This isn’t rocket science. It isn’t school. There are no grades or tests. It’s not a race, so it doesn’t matter how slow you are. You can’t fail; you can only succeed to a greater or lesser degree.
The teacher is there to help you. They want you to be happy. Your fellow students want you to be happy. They aren’t paying attention to what you are doing or how fast you are going, because they are too worried about the same things you are.
Breathe. Relax your shoulders. Breathe. Roll your neck. Breathe. Stand up and stretch. Smile. This is going to be fun.
If you are chatting with your friend or seatmate, you may not be paying attention when the teacher says something important. You may be distracting others or making it difficult for others to hear.
Limit side conversations and comments to times when the whole class is working quietly. Keep those conversations low-key and low-volume. Save the chatty catching-up talk for after class, over a cup of tea—or a glass of wine.
If you need help, it may be fine to ask your neighbor a quick question, but don’t expect them to teach you.
If your neighbor is bothering you, let them know politely. Rather than accusing them of being too loud, try starting with a “me” statement – something like, “I’m having trouble hearing. Could you please speak more quietly?” If they keep asking questions and distracting you from your work, say, “That would be a good question to ask (teacher’s name).” If that doesn’t work, have a private word with the teacher; they may not have realized that there was a problem.
The teacher wants to help you, but there may be a lot of people in class needing help at once. If the teacher is making their way around the room, you may be able to wait your turn until they get to you. You may need to raise your hand to get the teacher’s attention.
If you can’t see or hear tell the teacher, let them know.
If you are frustrated or don’t understand, don’t stew in silence! Teachers try their best, but they aren’t mind readers; let them know your needs. Chances are, if you have a question, others have the same question. Asking it aloud and having it answered will help the whole class.
At the same time, this isn’t a private lesson. The teacher is there to teach the whole class and has limited ability to help each individual student, depending on time and class size. Teachers can’t do remedial technique instruction for unprepared students. That’s what the prerequisites are for!
Be patient with yourself. You’re learning something new, and you won’t be perfect at it the first time—or the second, or even the third. You learn more by making mistakes than by not making mistakes.
Learning as an adult is frustrating. We’re used to being competent in our daily lives. Typically we are not in a learning mode. Learning requires being vulnerable, and that’s an uncomfortable feeling. It’s OK not to master something immediately, and to feel unsure of what you are doing.
Realize that every time you do something new, you’ll be achieving a new personal best. The “perfect” student knows this and revels in their mistakes, because they know they are learning!
When the teacher is speaking to the whole class, stop working. Listen and watch.
Stay off your cell phone. Don’t record audio or video of the class without permission. Recording is not only impolite and sometimes illegal, it also distracts you from the instruction being offered. If you are taking notes on your phone, let the teacher know that’s what you are doing.
If you know much of what the teacher is saying, listen anyway. There is always something new to learn. It may be in the way the familiar information is being presented. You may pick up tips and tricks that refine a technique that you thought you knew well.
Don’t just read the handout, do hands-on practice. Even better, start—and finish—a project using the latest technique you learn. That will cement the knowledge in your brain.
If you enjoyed the teacher and think they have more to offer, look them up online. Depending on the teacher, you may find a robust social media presence and a blog or website. The teacher might be teaching additional classes in your area or online. They may have YouTube, Creativebug, or Bluprint (formerly Craftsy) videos. They may have a newsletter you’ll want to subscribe to.
The more you love on your teacher, the more likely they are to be able to continue to create the kind of learning content you enjoy.
You paid for a class, you attended the class, and you got a lovely handout that will help you remember what you learned. That handout is protected both by copyright and by ethics. The teacher spent hours preparing the class and writing and designing the handout. It is their work. Photocopying and sharing the handout (or using it to teach a class yourself) is not only illegal, but wrong. Please don’t do it.
If you want to share what you learned, give credit to the teacher.
If an evaluation form was provided, please fill it out to the best of your ability. Both the teacher and the class sponsor benefit from constructive criticism. The better the feedback, the better the teacher becomes over time.
Here are some phrases to get you started:
I appreciated it when the teacher …
It would be helpful if …
Would you consider …
I’d like to see …
The meeting space was …
If you learned something new, share your success with others. Grab a friend and explain what you learned in your own words. When we teach, we have to process information differently than when we learned, and this helps cement the information in our brains.
Announce your new-found knowledge on your social media channels. Share where you learned and who taught you. However, do continue to respect the intellectual property of the teacher(s) and other resources you learn from. If you have any questions about what you can and can’t (or shouldn’t) teach or share from a particular class, contact the teacher for clarification.
Keep these tips handy! Download a free pdf poster of all 20 Tips.
Now that you’re ready to maximize your learning efforts, what’s your next step? What kind of class do you want to take? Do you have any classes scheduled?
Talk to me in the comments.
I’ve been teaching knitting and crochet in person for over 25 years, at all levels and in all sorts of venues. I’ve taught one-on-one, in small groups, and in large classes with 30 students or more. During this time, I’ve observed thousands of students, and I’ve talked with my fiber teacher colleagues about what they have observed. I also take every possibly opportunity to be a student. This article has grown out of my own experience and those of my colleagues.