National Teachers

Top 20 Reasons Guilds Should Hire

National Teachers

Prior to becoming a national teacher, show judge & AQS Certified Appraiser, I served for two years as the program chairperson of my local guild in Springfield, Missouri. During that time, I developed and organized programs and workshops for our guild. I found that the most successful workshops were those taught by experienced and well-known national teachers. Today’s guilds are formed for a variety of reasons. One of the goals of a guild should be to help its members to become better quilt makers. The following are the advantages of bringing in national teachers to accomplish that goal.

1.  Attending a national quilt show or international festival is a great experience; however attending any out-of-town show has the expenses of travel, hotel, food, show admittance, workshop and registration fees and spending money. In a struggling economy, many guild members simply do not have the financial ability to attend these shows and take workshops.

2.  Guild members who work must take their vacation time to attend an out-of-town show rather than spend their vacation time with their family. Traveling to these shows is also difficult for young mothers, the elderly or disabled guild members.

3.  If a local guild hires a national teacher, the entire guild has the opportunity to attend the lecture and 20-25 guild members have the advantage of taking a workshop from that teacher. If the guild is large or a waiting list develops for the workshop, another workshop day can be scheduled with the teacher. An additional half-day workshop is a good option for guild members who cannot attend an all-day workshop.

4.  Workshops at large shows often fill up quickly and cost more than the same workshop would at a guild. Guild members have a better chance of getting into a workshop with national teacher if their guild brings that teacher to the local level.

5.  Guild workshops have a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere than classes held at a large show because the students know each other. They also are not distracted or tired from all the other events and activities going on at a large show.

6.  Guild members can use their own sewing machine at a local workshop. They do not need to rent or learn how to use a different machine at a national show. By using their own machine, the stitches will be the same when they finish their project at home.

7.  When a workshop is held locally, the students purchase workshop supplies and fabrics locally rather than from vendors at a show. This helps to keep the local quilt shops in business. The students often go out to eat during or after the workshop which also helps the local economy.

8.  It is often hard to remember everything that is taught in a workshop so local students can help each other with their workshop projects after the teacher goes back home. They can encourage each other and are motivated to finish their class project so they can bring it to the next guild meeting for show and tell.

9.  Guild members have more opportunities to get to know a national teacher when they visit the guild. Members can assist the program chairperson by transporting the teacher to and from the airport or to and from their hotel to the guild meetings and workshops. They can also volunteer to take the teacher out to dinner or to visit quilt shops and area sites during their stay.

10.  National teachers often write books and magazine articles and develop new techniques in quilt making. They work with fabric, notion and sewing machine companies to develop new products so they are on the cutting edge of the newest ideas in the industry. 

11.  It takes a lot of time and energy to develop a good workshop. National teachers work and teach on a full-time basis so their workshops are well thought out and organized. They’ve learned from experience how long it takes students to accomplish an assigned task and how much material they can cover in the allotted time of the workshop.

12.  National teachers have professional workshop handouts, books and special tools available to help their students better understand the subject and techniques they are teaching. 

13.  National teachers have professional web sites with blogs and tutorials. Program committees can visit these web sites to view a teacher’s current lectures, workshops, fees and contract requirements. Students can visit these web sites to see photos of class projects, get the supply list and find other good information about the workshop they will be taking.

14.  National teachers travel and teach in many parts of the country and world. They continually learn tips and techniques from students in their classrooms that they can in turn share with others. Their workshops are constantly evolving and improving.

15.  National teachers attend many quilt shows and see (and often make) the award winning quilts. They have a good understanding of what it takes to make an award-winning quilt.

16.  There are benefits in sharing information with other guilds in the area. Members or program committees from other guilds may be able to recommend great teachers. Guilds can hire and share a national teacher with other guilds in their region. The guilds equally share the travel expenses of the teacher, helping to lower the total costs for each guild.

17.  A local guild can save money by working with the same hotel for housing their teachers. The advantage of doing this is that they can negotiate the room rate and receive free night stays because of the volume of nights they will be using each year.

18.  The membership of a guild will increase when national teachers are hired for lectures and workshops.  Guilds often charge a fee for visitors attending a lecture by a national teacher. They also charge an additional fee for non-members who take a workshop. Joining the guild is often a better option than paying these additional expenses. Both new and experienced quilt makers will join the guild because of the guild’s exciting programs. These new members will become involved in other guild activities (community quilts, education, quilt shows etc.). When the membership increases, the budget increases. In a large guild, special interest groups can be formed to promote personal friendships and further development of quilt making skills.

19.  Generally, a guild pays for the travel, housing, food and lecture fees of a teacher. The workshop expenses are equally divided among the students taking the workshop. With well-known teachers and good advertising, the workshops will fill to capacity and the student cost is less than what it would be at a large show. Workshop expenses can be supplemented by the guild to help keep the individual student costs even lower. Guilds can also offer workshop scholarships for members who are financially struggling or as a bonus for accumulated volunteer hours.

20.  National teachers provide professional presentations for guild meetings. Their lectures are stimulating and encouraging to quilt makers and they often bring some of their award-winning quilts for display.

Some Final Thoughts …

I want this information to be an encouragement to quilt guilds to increase their program budgets and to provide great programs for their members. The board of directors of a guild should review their program budget annually.  Most guilds have the financial ability to hire a minimum of four national teachers per year. Larger guilds have the ability to hire at least six national teachers per year.

Guilds do need to hire area teachers to financially balance the cost of national teacher programs and to help complete their yearly calendar of programs. Many local and regional teachers offer good programs and workshops. Their fees are less expensive and they do not have the added costs of airfare and hotel stays. When hired locally, these teachers gain more experience teaching their classes and it provides guild members with less expensive workshops to take on the local level. Most national teachers began their teaching careers on the local level at guilds and shops. By giving area teachers the opportunity to teach at local guilds, some may go on to become national teachers. The combination of programs taught by national and area teachers can provide an exciting calendar year for a guild. Other activities such as a Christmas program, community quilt sew-in, a Mother’s Day tea and other fun activities can complete the calendar year.

 I hope that this article doesn’t imply that I am opposed to workshops at national and international shows because that is not my intent. I love attending those shows, meeting new people, seeing the award-winning quilts and having the ability to take a variety of great workshops all in one week. I wish that every quilt maker could experience at least one large show every year but, that is not possible for many reasons. Local guilds therefore play an important role in providing ongoing educational opportunities for their members.

 Please feel free to copy this article and share it with the Board of Directors and Program Committee of your local guild.

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