You Don't Have to Be an Expert to Start Teaching

Yep, it's true so embrace it.

I'm pretty sure there is something you already know how to do really well. It may be how you make the product that you sell, or it may be something related to your business, like using Pinterest, selling your work or keeping great records for tax time.

The question is less about what you can teach and more about what you WANT to teach that people also want to learn.

If you're able to explain things in a clear way that is easy to understand and follow and you're enthusiastic about the topic-you have the skills to walk someone through learning a new skill. You don't have to be the most talented artist in your town, have a certain number of years under your belt or have a specialized degree to begin.

Some of my best and favorite teachers have been self-taught. In the creative world, you are not teaching how to remove someone's appendix. You are explaining how to take a project from start to finish. Or you're describing how you've had success that can be replicated.

When I first approached our local Adult Education Program to start teaching jewelry making, I only knew how to make one thing:  Earrings!  I had made and sold LOTS of earrings.  Nothing else.  I had focused exclusively on learning to make different types of earrings and I could explain to beginner jewelry makers exactly how they could do this too.

Had I ever made a Necklace?  Nope.  Bracelets? I hadn't gotten that brave yet... but I knew how to make one thing well so the class I proposed was-spoiler alert....Earrings!  My students made at least 3 pair of different style earrings over 3 class sessions.  I still teach this class and my students often want to keep learning more when it's done. (I have since learned to make many different types of jewelry, but this is where I began.)

The key here is not to focus on what you don't know.  You aren't going to try and teach people how to make necklaces if you don't know how to make them.  You are going to teach what you know how to do well and share your success.

Don't let what you don't know hold you back from sharing the gifts you have right now.

Don't compare yourself to other instructors who have been making and teaching for years.  Start with what you are able to share with confidence.

The other key in starting where you are is to target the right students.  I would not target my Earring class to advanced jewelry makers or skilled metal smiths.  It is for beginning jewelry makers and this is clear in the class description. Gear your descriptions and content to the level of maker that you feel you can comfortably teach.

When I began teaching painting classes, I started with kids. Kids are very forgiving, think you are super talented, especially if you make a big mess and play games. Teaching kids is much less pressure than teaching adults who are paying for a class and have certain expectations of what they should be getting out of the class. Kids have no such expectations and really just want to be engaged, have fun and maybe make a new friend.

I think the best way to figure out if teaching is right for you is by teaching a real live class. You aren't going to figure it out by thinking about it. You're only going to know if you actually DO it. I'll be here for moral support and to help you get started.