The surprising experience of teaching
A bit more than four months ago, I was one morning working at my office when I received a phone call. On the other end there was a girl, who presented herself and explained she was studing a Superior Degree in Made-to-measure and Show Garments, that she had to do her internship and that she would like to do it with me.
Wow! Really, with me?
Said and done, Laura has been doing her internship on my workshop and, now she has just finished, I can evaluate what this experience has meant to me and what it has contributed. And what happened is, while teaching her about sewing, cutting, pattern-making and others, it turned out I have learned a lot more.
Do you want to know it?
Things I’ve learned
1. To realize what point of the way I’m at and to value it
It’s been quite a few years of career, but I’m always looking ahead to that which I want to achieve or to be, and when I look back I mainly see all that I want to stop doing or being (so, the mistakes and errors). And by teaching what I know I have been much more aware of the fact each mistake meant a lesson and a learning, and that all of those learnings together are the steps I’ve made on my professional career, the steps that have lad me to where I am right now.
I believe this is common: generally speaking, we stop and celebrate too little. And it is necessary. Because it gives you a different energy and a different assurance.
Of course you want to keep walking towards that which you want. Learning and change don’t stop and we all need new goals that motivate us to keep growing. But it is on what you have learned, consolidated and incorporated that you will keep building, just like a coral growns over its current structure. If you were not where you are right now, you could not do the next step, it would be too far away.
At the same time, we are always looking at “the big names”, and we loose sight that what you are doing on your “small” world has its own appeal and charm.
Laura told me she wasn’t motivated by the usual companies where her school used to do the internships at (big companies for bridal and evening attire and corsetry), but instead, she was following my work and she liked my designs and that’s why she wanted to do her insternship with me.
She was seeing where I’m at now and she liked it. So freaking awesome and a huge eye-opener.
2. That I know far more than I think I know
And not only did she liked my company just as it is now, but also, from that place where I am now I have plenty to teach her. Laura had already studied one year of different subjects: pattern-making, pattern-grading, hand sewing, machine sewing, materials… but in the real world, she had yet to learn everything, right from the start.
And of course, it happens that when you have been working for quite a few years, your level of normal is where you are now, and you don’t realize that all this knowledge that you take for granted is knowledge that you have and that you acquired at some point (and so, there was a time when you didn’t have it).
3. To organize my knowledge
In order to teach what you know, you need to organize it first! It makes you organize your knowledge in a logic structure, a “curriculum map” that makes sense. Once this done, then you can teach it.
Thanks to teaching Laura I have organized my own production methods. Putting the focus on them has helped me to rethink, change and improve many of them. It is something I was already doing, but I have now done it 10 times faster.
4. To be up to it
Teaching others makes you be up to it: you need to find the way for this person to learn as much as possible, in the most effective way and you need to make the experience fulfill her and help her in her professional path. While looking for these results you get to ask many questions to yourself, insteresting questions about pedagogical methods and talent management.
5. That not all learning is about technical subjects: mindset always goes first
Each one of us has our own ways of clogging up the works. There is a key factor on our way to success which is attitude. How we take things, how we talk to ourselves. Mental habits that take hold of us and that prevent us from shining as we could.
One or another are stronger on each one of us: there’s the perfectionist who is never happy with her results, there’s the one who is afraid of not being able to or of not knowing how and this is bloking her, there’s who is not moving forward when she has to choose because doubt stops her.
Working on these blocks is key because, if they are not overcome, technical knowledge cannot arrive. And doing it with big doses of assertivity, patience, creativity and care. Also, as we all fall into some of these mental habits in a greater or lesser extent, working them on others will help us improve them on ourselves. It’s a win-win. 😉
On this subject, being a student myself of Gloria Mendez‘s Change Mangement Method has helped a lot.
Whe she arrived, Laura had many insecurities, she always tended to believe she could not or she wouldn’t know how. You should see her now: she dares just about anything.
6. The importance of working from talent
I am a firm believer that approaching your professional career basing on your talent is what will enable you to achieve fulfillment, become excellent and also benefit the world with it. But many times, “oportunities” get in the way and we don’t realize that the path to a professional life with a lack of happyness arrives many times disguised as “the work offer that will allow you to pay the rent”.
Because of that, an ideal time to find out which is yor talent and to start cultivating it (and not cultivating anything else) is when you are doing your professional studies. That is an excellent moment to observe yourself and realize what kind of processes thrill you and excite you: is it creating? is it organizing? is it looking after? is it the world of abstract, the world of ideas? is it helping others? is it fixing things?
Almost al talents fit in a made-to-measure dressmaking workshop and to me it is important to discover which one my apprentices have. That is, I don’t only want to trasmit Laura the technical knowlegde that prepares her on my work field, but I want that, globally, the experience of learning with me brings her closer to pursuing a more fulfilling and happy professional career because it is tuned in with her talent.
What I am going to do with all this learning
This whole experience has opened a can of worms. How wonderful it is to take part in another person’s training and to help her in her path to fulfillment! It is absolutely amazing and I need to say that I’m hooked. If you are a mother, a teacher or a boss, you will think that I’ve discovered the evident. And I have!
Also, while teaching Laura I have finally understood why, for so many years, the seamstresses I have hired were not up to it: because actually, what I do is my own sewing method. A method with concepts and norms that are normal to me and that allow me to achieve excellent results, but that that are now known by everyone.
As of yet, next week my next intern is starting his internship with me and I’m so looking forward to it.
But also, I have decided to open an online sewing school. I’m so excited and I think it can be so beneficial for so many people. And yes, that is certainly a huge project, but I still have some life ahead, uh?
In short: helping others to walk a path I have already walked is one of the most gratifying and rewarding experiences in my life.
And you, what do you valued most of your studies? Are you still there right now?