Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How You can get the Most out of Taking a Knitting Class

The best thing about teaching knitting classes is that everyone who attends is there because they want to learn.  It means that even when a student has difficulty with a particular concept they put in the effort to try.  When they do, I get to be a better teacher by being forced to come up with alternative teaching methods.  I have to develop more concise or different vocabulary and I have to learn to voice and demonstrate complex skills in a logical step by step process. 

As teachers we occasionally run into students that are more challenging. I've had to deal with the occasional complaint from other students about individuals who were disruptive in one way or another in my classes.  As the instructor I have to take control and quiet that individual down.  It's a delicate balancing act, after all I'm dealing with adults who have paid money to be there and I place a high value on making sure that all of my students get a lot out of my classes.

I took tailoring classes for many years with an amazing teacher who taught techniques that no one else was teaching. It was "hard" as opposed to "soft" method tailoring for women, based on custom work from the European menswear bespoke tradition and improved to work with female body shapes.  As I was her student for a long time and had completed many projects I started to run into a problem with other students looking for assistance from me because they did not want to wait for the instructor to get around to them.  We all worked on individual projects so not every question was one that I knew that answer to, but initially I did answer the ones that I did know the answer to.  Eventually it escalated to the point where my working time in class was being seriously compromised. I also became aware that the instructor did not like me "helping" other students.  After that when I was asked for assistance I started telling the other students that the instructor did not like me doing so and the problem disappeared.

I've made a short list below of all the things to consider to be sure you get the most possible out of any class you take.  Some of these I learned as a teacher and others as a student. Some have come up in discussions with other teachers.

  1. Put your cell phone away and turn it off.
  2. If you have a personal situation requiring that you absolutely must take calls explain that up front to the class, put the phone on vibrate and leave the room quietly when you take those calls. (Yes, I once sat beside some one who took several calls and held up a whole class).
  3. Listen to the instructor and keep socializing to a minimum. (Many students take classes to socialize but not everyone is there for that reason).
  4. Don't argue about the details of a given technique before doing your own sample often the learning lesson is contained in the doing.
  5. Use the reference material that has been handed out when you have questions.
  6. Listen to the other student's questions, they may be your questions as well. (Many students have the same questions).
  7. Review the course description carefully to make sure you have any required prerequisites.
  8. Bring the listed supplies with you. 
  9. Complete your homework in advance following the instructions carefully. (I once had a student who ignored the instructions on a piece of homework to "improve" it).
  10. Wear your name tag if you are given one.
  11. Remember that if you already know the skill being taught that others still want to hear what the instructor is saying. (The skill level in classes varies widely and teachers need to accommodate that).
  12. Keep in mind that the other students paid to take a class with the teacher not to hear how you do something.
  13. It's faster and more efficient to let the instructor move around the room in a sequential fashion to give everyone one on one instruction.
  14. Be open to learning skills you have struggled with in the past.
  15. Be aware that teachers have timing issues and must move on to be sure to complete all the material in a given course plan.


  1. Agree completely! Thanks.

  2. Some excellent advice there. And I've come to similar conclusions myself as a teacher and student.