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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #402: The Benefits of Teaching

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 1109 days ago 982 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 401: Excuse Me For a Moment While I Do My 'Happy Dance!' Part 402 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 403: A Sincere Thanks »

Teaching a large group of people with lots of different levels of expertise can be a challenge. I must admit, when I was approached to teach a class here on scroll sawing, I felt a little intimidated. After seeing all the beautiful projects here from so many talented woodworkers, my first reaction was to wonder what I could possibly teach them.

I was first asked in March, just before leaving for the show that I lectured at in Saratoga Springs, New York. At that point it had been several years since I had taught a class, and I had never been asked to lecture previously. That was all new to me.

Even though I had taught decorative painting classes over the years, I had never taught scroll saw classes. Once I was asked to do a demonstration at a scroll saw club in the Chicago area, but that was also quite informal and it was only to about ten or fifteen members. The group was very casual and many of them I had come to know throughout the years and considered them friends. I had actually almost forgotten about it, as it was woven into a time in my life when things were quite busy in other directions. It was more of a one time event, and I never really pursued it further.

I have always maintained that teaching is a wonderful way to learn more about your skill. As we become more competent in what we do, it is inevitable that we begin to take many things for granted. I believe that is a natural part of the process. Things that used to be a struggle for us become easy and almost second nature, and we sometimes forget to give ourselves credit for what we have accomplished. By working with others who are new to the skill, our own sense of ability is reinforced. The mere act of sharing what we know with others is a great way to look at how we do things and take inventory of our strengths and weaknesses. It is also a good way to build confidence in ourselves when we come to the realization that we do have much to offer others.

Saratoga Springs was a good example of that for me. In the process of lecturing and teaching several different groups of people – all with different skill levels, it forced me to be aware of what knowledge I had gained over the years and had taken for granted. Many of the things that I considered second nature in the process of scroll sawing and woodworking were new and exciting to the newcomers. I would have never realized this had I not chosen to accept these invitations to lecture and teach. Through the intelligent questions that were asked of me, I came to understand that I had more to offer people than I initially thought. And that was a good feeling.

The best part of the whole thing was that I learned a lot too. In speaking with people and discussing things, many things were brought to light that I hadn’t heard of or considered before. And that was very exciting. It made me look at myself and at other woodworkers in a much different way.

I found that one of the most enlightening part of the class was the questions. When a student asked a question, it gave insight to some areas that perhaps I wasn’t covering completely enough. When a question was asked about a particular technique or process, it brought to my attention that perhaps I had assumed something that I should have explained a little better. Perhaps it was one of those points that I had done many times and taken for granted. In any case, by clarifying things for the student and answering the question, it helped me understand my own abilities better and raised my own confidence. If I didn’t have a clear answer for them, there were certainly others in the class who were able to offer advice and answers from their own experience, and we all learned. It was a good thing for everyone involved.

In preparing for the class I am teaching here on Lumberjocks, I have been pulling on all that I have learned over the past several months from others. Since teaching in Saratoga Springs, I have become much more aware of my own abilities and what others are looking for in a class. The questions asked, both in New York and subsequently from customers and people here on this and other forums, give me a sense of what information people are seeking and how I should present it. It has helped me tremendously in the preparation and decisions of which material I need to cover and also to what extent.

If I were doing this a year ago, I don’t think that it would be the same at all. I don’t think that it would be a bad class, but I think that perhaps it would not be as accessible for someone who is just beginning. I would probably be guilty of assuming many things that I now realize are necessary building blocks in the foundation of many of the processes we will be doing.

Woodworking itself is so dimensional. Each division of woodworking is like the side of a multifaceted stone. While a person may be expert on one or even several of the different types of woodworking, there is always more to learn and explore in a different, yet related field. Many divisions of woodworking can overlap each other to make incredible things, and it is rare that only one process is used. I believe that is what makes it so exciting for all of us. The journey of learning new processes and techniques never seems to end. There is always another challenge on the horizon for us. That, along with teaching others is a very fulfilling part of many of our lives. I believe it is why we are all here.

Yesterday I posted the first real lesson for my scroll saw class. I have decided that the lessons would be short and focused and I am gearing them to those who have never worked with a scroll saw before. This is not intended to talk down to those here, but after receiving many messages from people who wish to participate in the class and have little or no experience on the scroll saw, I feel that it is the best way to proceed.

I realize that this pace may seem slow to those who have some knowledge of the process of scroll sawing, but in mapping things out and seeing what I want to cover in the class, I realize that it is a great deal of information and I want everyone to be able to digest it slowly and easily. I also realize that many who are following have busy lives filled with families, jobs and other things. I believe that going at a slower pace will offer the greatest benefit to all. For those who are more experienced, I also welcome their participation and thoughts. I have seen this occur already, and I think that it will help enhance the learning experience.

As for myself today, I have plenty that I am going to do to keep busy. Although the 72 sets of skating figures are done, I need to cut out 72 rectangular ponds. Although this shouldn’t take too long, any time I do 72 of anything it will manage to eat up a couple of hours of my day. I will be printing the patterns while I am doing that. I received my order for the bags which I am going to package the patterns in so I have everything I need to complete things and get them ready to ship.

I also have been saying for almost a week how I want to get some work done on my new painting design. It was one of those weeks where other things have taken priority and my paints and brushes have sat here untouched for days now. It is time to move that up the list and make time to finish it. (I may even take them to the beach and do it there, weather permitting. It would do me good to get out and have a change of scenery.)

I am looking forward to a good weekend. I have already received a good amount of response from the lesson that I posted last night, both privately and on the comment section, and I feel that we are all going in the right direction. I appreciate the opportunity given to me very much.

I hope you all have a wonderful and creative day.

-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"



11 comments so far

View William's profile

William

8925 posts in 1445 days


#1 posted 1109 days ago

I am among the experienced scrollers you mention, and I thnk you are moving along with the class in a perfectly timed manner.
I just looked at the lesson you posted last night on applying patterns. It is only fifteen hours old and already had eighteen comments.
If you tried presenting the material in a faster or longer format, I fear the comments and questions on any particular post would be so many to make it difficult for anyone, beginner or experienced, to get as much out of your class.
Because of that, I think you’re doing a great job at the class. I have tried teaching a few people to scroll. I usually find myself more aggrevated with the process than they do. I always assume they will pick up on techniques as quick as I did or will know things that I had to learn myself. It doesn’t work that way and I have to slow things down. Well, you know I don’t like slowing down. That’s the exact reason I tell people I can offer advice, but I don’t have the patience to teach.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7488 posts in 1523 days


#2 posted 1109 days ago

I am also used to spinning lots of plates and moving at quite a pace, William. There is part of me that initially looked at the pace I was going and felt it was like molasses. But in reading the responses and receiving the personal messages, it helped me see that people aren’t in a hurry. They want to learn. As I said, they have lives and other responsibilities too and for many of them, this is a side thing that they want to do at a relaxed pace. As I said in the beginning though – “we are not going anywhere.”

I too have responsibilities, and am working this in between them. As with anything I do, I want to give the best possible effort I have and that requires time. I look at the class lasting several weeks. This will give us all the time necessary to make it work for everyone. It is wonderful that in a forum such as this it is possible to do things this way. Besides being able to present things at a good pace, the class will be in the archives for all who wish to try later on. How could it be any better?

Sheila :)

-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"

View William's profile

William

8925 posts in 1445 days


#3 posted 1109 days ago

I don’t see how you could do any better. I think you’re doing a great job.
However…...
You know I can’t leave well enough alone.
I could see you maybe coming back at a later date and extending the class or starting another one. After anyone who wishes to do show has had time to play around with the basics of scrolling, you could do a class on more advanced techniques.
Also, you could do a painting class.
You could become our scroll saw related regular teacher.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View huntter2022's profile

huntter2022

275 posts in 1218 days


#4 posted 1109 days ago

Shelia you are doing a outstanding job with the classes . I’m a experienced scrollers , that is still learning

I believe taking it slow is a good way to go it gives time for people to read and put the information to work . Then come back ( at least I hope they come back). If they had a problem they can ask questions and comment on how they are doing .

Whats that I hear Shelia doing a painting class , I must of missed that posting . Be sure to let me know when that starts I’ll be there and sure William will join in too . :):):)

-- David ; "BE SAFE BE HAPPY" Brockport , NY

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7488 posts in 1523 days


#5 posted 1109 days ago

Thanks for the nice comments guys, but you are overwhelming me!!! It reminds me of sitting in the hospital after having your first child and someone walking in and saying “so when are you going to have your next one?” (The girls all understand that one, I am sure!)

I would love to do a painting class . . . . . eventually!

But lets see if I survive this class first! :)

Sheila

-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"

View William's profile

William

8925 posts in 1445 days


#6 posted 1109 days ago

We’ll look for a painting class in the future becasue we’ll make sure you survive this one. Worst case scenerio, we’ll package up some band aids and aspirin to send your way. If that doesn’t work, we’ll send tequila.
Tequila fixes everything.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View BertFlores58's profile

BertFlores58

1644 posts in 1525 days


#7 posted 1109 days ago

One thing with a good teacher…. SME (subject matter expertise) ... and… Sheila you are one who has the SME additional to your teaching capabilities and experience… I like the way you introduced subject in #1 and #2 (these had attracted a lot of students to join)... then on your #3 what a surprise of being so serious about pattern sticking… how much more when it comes to cutting and I dont think it will be a short lesson.. Keep it up. God bless.

-- Bert

View BertFlores58's profile

BertFlores58

1644 posts in 1525 days


#8 posted 1109 days ago

Sheila, Haven’t you noticed…. you are 3 more blogs to beat Frank…. Congratulations being the TOP BLOGGER… You deserve a break… I am just proactive, I may not be around when you become the number one.. that will be on Sunday.

-- Bert

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7488 posts in 1523 days


#9 posted 1109 days ago

Cool, Bert! I didn’t even really notice! :) I kind of looked when the 400th blog of this series came up because my friend Bernie is always telling me “you should write a book!” I tell him to read it here, but he doesn’t have a computer (alas!)

Boy the girl can talk!

I am going to have to change my tag line to “At least I can type fast!” from the “Knowledge is Power” one! LOL

Thanks for the good wishes! I wouldn’t be here if you didn’t talk back.

Sheila :)

-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"

View BertFlores58's profile

BertFlores58

1644 posts in 1525 days


#10 posted 1109 days ago

Additional to your typing so fast… you type what you want to speak… that is why you have a lot to say in you blog..
I was busy today doing the 40 boxes for gifts from that recycled parquet… well.. at least I have finished 8 pieces completed (no varnish yet), 10 pieces without lids, all the other pieces under gluing… progress report??? would I ever reach it…Hope so.

Next week, I will be teaching fitters who are working on the ship repairing forklifts, trucks, and cranes—two days practical and 3 days classroom lesson…. well that is a new challenge for teaching… a pause for woodworks again.

-- Bert

View Toninho's profile

Toninho

188 posts in 1430 days


#11 posted 1109 days ago

Hello Sheila! First of all I want to give my sincere congratulations on your scroll saw class!

I am a novice scrollers and my experience is still low. I’m from Portugal and here there is not much matter on the scroll saw art.

My Passion for scroll saw came from Brazil, during a vacation that I spent there, I met a lady who offered me a dinosaur in 3D and I was like a child trying to assemble the puzzles. Since then I was fond of this art scroll saw!

I have learned a lot through you all (scrollers) here in these wonderful sites!!

Sheila THANK YOU for sharing your experience!

-- António Guerreiro www.facebook.com/bichodamadeira

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