Maker Monday: Meet Professional Instructor Gwen Bortner
Gwen Bortner is known as an Entrelac knitting expert, and a lover of crafts in general. Here at Craftsy, she teaches the online knitting class, Entrelac Knitting, as well as the brand new online class, How to Teach It. In her Entrelac class, she introduces knitters to one of the most popular and fashionable trends in knitting. In her brand new class, she gives valuable lessons on how dedicated crafters can combine their passion and skills to become successful and professional instructors. We sat down with Gwen to find out what inspires her as a crafter, and as a teacher. It was a wonderful discussion, and we think you’ll enjoy it, too. Watch it here!
So, my name is Gwen Bortner and I’m a professional instructor. Most of the time what I’m teaching is knitting but, in fact, I also teach quite a few business classes for crafting professionals. And my very favorite class that I teach is actually on how to teach, which seems a little ironic. But it’s the thing I really love because I know, from myself, I love being able to share my knowledge with others. And I know that it really helps the crafting industry the more teachers that are out there, especially the more really good teachers that are out there, that are sharing their knowledge successfully and making the students feel empowered. That really helps the whole industry as we do that. So I love being able to teach classes on how to empower teachers, how to make teachers better teachers, or just how to encourage someone who’s never taught at all to become a teacher. And I travel all over the country doing that; it’s one of my favorite things to do!
There are absolutely some universal truth of the teaching kind of best practices. And it is interesting to get feedback later on. Because a lot of the students that I have, do become friends and we end up having lots of conversations, or after a year or two all of a sudden I see them on the national circuit, and we’re teaching together. And it is amazing because they’ll say you know I didn’t really know what you meant by X, Y, Z but then it happened in class and I was so glad that I had that processed already and I knew how I was going to respond. Or it really would have surprised me, but it didn’t catch me off guard and although it was still kind of weird to deal with, I was able to handle it because I’d thought about it ahead of time. You know, kind of being armed, you know knowing is half the battle- it’s kind of the big thing of- if you’re aware that that’s something that’s potentially going to happen it really helps. My job as a teacher is to make your toolbox bigger. And you may not use all the tools I give you, but atleast you know you’ve got them there in your toolbox.
The challenge with local instructors is actually building a community because often there’s just not that many in their physical area. And if they’re not traveling at the regional or national level, you’re just not going to be able to develop that community. It’s one of the things I’m super excited about with the Craftsy platform, is that there is now going to be a community of other local instructors that will be dealing with similar types of things. And they really can share information and not worry about being in competition with one another because they may be clear across the country but they can actually have a fairly live sort of conversation about what’s going on and get some feedback, and really be able to develop a community. Those of us that are at the national level, we have this fabulous community. Some of my closest friends live clear across the country and I often see them more often than the friends that live just a few miles away. But that take time to develop and I would love for that to be available to everyone and I think that’s going to be possible with the Craftsy platform.
Be sure to come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow for a great tip from Gwen on how to prepare for teaching a class.