Saturday, July 16, 2016

Dealing with 'Rejection'

Abby Franquemont took the words right out of my mouth with this essay for PLY magazine.

Unlike Abby, I actually wanted to teach.  I started 'local', then began to widen my circle of applications.  For every successful application I sent out, four or five (or more) were 'rejected'.  I wasn't well known, had not written a book or even very many magazine articles.  I live in a geographically remote location and travel to expensive.

But eventually my name started to get 'out there' and acceptance letters started coming.

Because I wanted to teach, just like I wanted to sell my textiles, I had to come to grips with the fact that the market for weaving teachers is tiny and there are way more teachers than there are opportunities to teach.  Not everyone was going to be selected.

And, even if you are selected to teach...your class may not fill and you get the 'sorry, your class has been cancelled' letter.

If there is anything worse than not being selected in the first has to be having your class cancelled due to lack of registrations.

If you think that can't happen, think again!  We had to cancel the workshop I was scheduled to teach at a conference that I was co-chairing due to lack of enrollment.  My ego took a gigantic hit on that one!

So for anyone thinking of teaching in the fibre arts, be prepared for rejection letters.  Be prepared to read negative comments on evaluation sheets.  (If you even read them.)  Be prepared for people to have expectations beyond what the class was designed for, or to come unprepared (looms not dressed, knowledge not up to the course content).  Be prepared to be flexible in case of equipment not working properly (projectors in the classroom not talking to your laptop, etc.)

And when you mess up, 'fess up and try to make it right.  Because none of us are perfect.  None of us gets out of bed everyday feeling fully functional.  Sometimes teachers and students are dealing with Life Happening and their concentration may not be as high as they would like.

Students can only absorb so much information and then the lights go out while they process what has gone in so far and so they may miss something said in a lecture.  Be prepared to repeat, repeat, repeat until it sinks in.  Be prepared for different manners of learning - not everyone 'gets' everything presented verbally - they may need to see it or do it for themselves.

But when all is said and done, if the students walk out of my class knowing more than when they walked in, I consider myself to have succeeded.

1 comment:

Alison Daykin said...

That is so true, Laura.

I, too, started local and now travel across the UK and have been to The Netherlands. You have to learn to accept rejection, as you say and learn all the different ways people learn and if some students don't get what your teaching you have to find a different way of presenting it so they do! But it's a joy when they do get it an even more of a joy when they want to go on and try out more ideas from that little spark you've given them!