I’ve been thinking a lot about the teaching/learning process. I’ve been thinking about how I learn and how I teach. I’ve been thinking about how I think, what I know, the vast amount of stuff I don’t know, the things I want to learn so that I can be a better teacher, and a better student.
I think a lot about my magic wand *the one that matches my tiara* that would sometimes be really helpful in class. I would swoop it over my student’s head, hands, and heart, say the magic words – that would sound something like a Vulcan mind meld – and all of the experience that goes with the knowledge in my head, would magically be imparted to the students mind, and heart, and hands and voila! the free motion machine quilting becomes something more under their hands. It becomes that “show quality” take your breath away quilting that is the stuff of dreams.
Let me back up a bit. Right around this time of year (donut picking time or autumn as it is otherwise known) dad and I had a bit of a chat. This was one of those father/daughter “you’re getting married in a couple of weeks and I need to share something with you” chats. One of his wishes as a parent was that the life lesson’s I’d learned had not been so difficult, and challenging, and sometimes gut wrenching. Life lessons now are just as difficult, challenging and often gut wrenching. It’s never easy recognizing that something just isn’t working and needs to change. It’s not easy owning something that really isn’t (entirely) your fault. It’s not easy to put in hour after hour after hour on a quilt, a class, a pattern, and have it flop in some way shape or form.
That conversation with my dad resonates today. While I loved his wish in the moment, and I love his wish now, it is exactly those life lessons and those hard-won lessons learned in life, and at the machine that have formed me. That have allowed me to become the quilter, and teacher that I am. When I have students struggling in front of me, my heart aches for them. But. I don’t want to reach out and make it all better. I want to offer some suggestions that will help them through this moment, let them know I’m there, let them feel my hands on their shoulders, hear the whisper in their ear that they can do this, or the “here’s how I might approach this”….with the internal checklist that runs through my head as I problem solve.
And, as I write this I have a new quilt idea that will go on the wall of quilting ideas, “My Wish for You”. Oh there are so many thoughts as to the finished quilt racing through my head: a clear, autumn blue sky, trees resplendent in autumn colors, with just enough leaves missing showing winter is right around the corner. A swing for two blowing in the breeze. My wish is one thing. My hope is that by embracing the things that are hard and working through whatever the process, at the end I will be a better quilter, a better teacher, a better wife…