This is a fundamental I live by when teaching. My soap classes are all hands on. They’re small classes because I have my students MAKE everything and I’m there to instruct and guide them. Even with my college kids I still try to formulate all exercises and homeworks and even in class work so that they are involved and have to figure out ideas/concepts/whatnot rather than me just “preaching” to them on topics. This is how I learn!
I love teaching. It’s funny though, as a kid I never once wanted to be a teacher. There are a number of reasons why that I can point to, reasons that I thought wouldn’t make me a good teacher. Looking back now I can say that many of those reasons shaped me into the teacher I am today. Funny how life works.
Anyway, my mom always thought I’d be come a teacher (I think she was thinking more grade school level, but still). I never considered teaching until I became a TA in college and even then my motivation for becoming a TA were the extra credits I earned. I did realize though through the experience that I enjoyed helping others learn.
A couple years after graduating I was approached by a college to teach an evening college class. To my surprise I loved it. What surprised me even more was I was good at it. The first class I ever took on soap making (some of you might know my story) was not because I wanted to make soap, but because I was doing research for an article I was writing about the history of soap. That class was a small all day intensive class. There were just two of us. We made everything ourselves and the teacher just guided us. I can say without hesitation that if that class had been a lecture styled class I’d never have gone home and made soap after that. I wouldn’t have had the confidence. That was back in 2009!
I have since that first class been a student of soap making–constantly learning. I have a collection of soap books, I have binders and binders worth of notes, handouts, and recipes, I follow blogs, and YouTube videos. There’s so much I don’t know, but I do have a pretty good knowledge base at this point.
I started teaching in 2013. And while my handouts and how I run classes have grown over the years I still teach my class very much the same way I did my very first class: HANDS ON! There’s something extremely rewarding to see a student conquer a fear, or get excited over their first soap, or start to make connections on information they’ve previously read. There’s one thing I will continue to always do and that’s teach. I will always help anyone who emails me with questions. I remember when I had those questions and was eternally grateful for those that helped me out. And I’m still learning too. And I appreciate those who take time out of their day to help me with my questions. It’s one thing I love about my soap community: for the most part people want you to succeed and are willing to share their knowledge.
Hopefully I’ve made a small difference in the soaping world with my teaching. 🙂