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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Teaching and Thinking About Teaching


Just finished teaching a couple of classes at Art and Soul this past weekend. I've been telling everyone that I'm preparing to retire from teaching. 

The little doll above was made by one of the students in class.


Before I go into the classroom I feel anxious and a bit overwhelmed. It's the same kind of fear I feel about boarding an airplane.


But once in the classroom I feel alive and not at all afraid. Instead I feel connected to the people who have come to learn. I feel like I am doing the most natural thing in the world and the thing I do best. 


I have a dilemma inside me. An argument over whether to use my energy for teaching or making my own art.


I ask myself which matters most to me, my studio time or being an instrument to encourage others. I do both of course but each one could be a full time committment.


I was very happy this weekend. I loved being in the classroom again. I don't know of a nicer group of people anywhere; free of judgment, conflict, competition.


While our hands are busy we talk about our lives. We laugh about things that when faced alone would make a person weep. We lean on each other. There is an energy in the room that is joyful.


While we make these objects there is deeper work going on.


If it were just about the things we create I think I could let it go.


But it is more than that.


Although the things we create bring us a lot of happiness.


You should have seen how happy we were when we lined up our dolls and saw what we had done.  


Each little creation was a surprise and a wonder. 


I'm thinking I probably wont quit teaching just yet.


It was a good way to usher in the month of October.


To sit quietly in another classroom the next day and play with photographs of our families. Making gifts for people we love.

Sharing our stories and making new friends.


Thank you sincerely to all of my students who shared such a happy time with me. It was very good.

31 comments:

subirdia said...

Oh yea I get to be the first to comment on such a lovely thought..you are the gift though from what I see and feel from your words and the images you share from the classrooms...you are giving so much to your students - you can tell and feel it - even though I'm an universe away...

lyle baxter said...

judy,your post is delightful! sounds like you had a wonderful time. couldnt you just limit yourself to a couple of classes a year instead of retiring altogether? there are so many of us who enjoy your work and we dont want you to disappear! any time I meet someone who has been a student of yours they have such wonderful things to say about you and your ways!

Kim Mailhot said...

A theme for me the last little while has been remembering what it is I really love to do. What I see myself on this planet doing, being, living for the next 40 something years (if I am very lucky !). I have begun elimating things that don't fit in with that true heart's desire, and focusing in on what makes me feel like I am on the right path. That feels so good and right.
Your joy for teaching, and connecting with your participants on a heart level is such a gift, to you and to the world. I can see why you want to keep going. The best thing is, there is no right or wrong answer ! You get to choose ! Keep on shining that beautiful heart light, whatever you do. The world sure needs light like yours !
Love to you, Beautiful Judy !

Dawn E. Shepherd Nguyen said...

I am so happy that you are going to keep teaching for a little while longer. You are one of the best teachers I've ever had Judy - and not just in the classroom, but with your words here on your blog too...
Thank you for giving and sharing so much. Anyone who has encountered you is all the richer for it.

Much love to you,
Dawn

Lisa Graham Art said...

Such a sweet post. I love all those wonderful dolls...so full of character. It would be neat to see a photo of each of the artists next to their doll. Sounds like a fun class and you sound like a dedicated teacher.

jill nalette said...

oh holy cow!! all of these creations are amazing!! i feel blessed and so lucky to have had you as a teacher and roommate!!
keep blessing us with all your amazing talents!!
love, hugs and smiles~ jill

Kate said...

Oh I love seeing all the dolls. So happy to hear you are not retiring quite yet. I still hope to learn from you someday in person. For now I can't wait till the 17th to learn about wax from you.

Kristina said...

Yay, I'm glad you will still be teaching!

Lynn said...

I can see how this could be a difficult decision. It sounds like you are choosing to do what is best for you right now (and for the fortunate students to come)...I bet you figure out how to do both with just the right amount of time doing each.

All the creations brought smiles to my face and joy to my heart.

Kathy said...

Oh, Judy, you have such a big heart that gives in so many ways. I understand what you mean about being torn between two worlds and I hope you can find the balance that gives you joy in both!

Connie Lou said...

you are right where you belong, the ladies are blessed by you
xoxo Connie

dorylyn said...

Oh, I am so glad you have decided to continue teaching. My goal is to be able to take a class with you in person one day. You are a blessing to share your knowledge and talents with us. And, for that, I am grateful.

roc said...

there are never any right or wrong choices, so whether you decide to take a break for a while, cut back, or keep going, it simply is a choice and one you can always choose something different later. i always say if we have doubts, finding ourselves going back and forth, then the answer is no, because when we really need or want to do something the choice always seem to be pretty clear, at least for me. i am really loving those dolls!

Beth said...

Judy, I empathize with your dilemma. We just took a trip which gave me a chance to be away from the computer and "regular life" and to think about my priorities. i have the same question: how much of my time and energy to use for my own creative projects, and how much for helping and encouraging others. I can begin to see how to achieve a better balance. For me, these two sides of my life feed each other -- it's actually all the other things in my life that seem to interfere. I am in a process of winnowing and focusing; sounds like you are too. Good luck with it all!

Linda said...

What wonderful classes these were and how fun to see all the beautiful dolls. I'd love to take this class one day...have you considered it as another online class?

gina armfield said...

I have to say dolls really aren't my thing - but omg these are amazing results - I may be a convert! Granted the teacher has a lot to do with pulling fabulous things from her students. I can say first hand that you and your teaching are a gift to all who know you!

milkcan said...

I have been going through the same debate myself -- to continue traveling and teaching or to take that time for myself. I have made the decision to severely limit my teaching in 2012 and then just see where I am after that.

Chris said...

Oh what wonderful dolls. You really bring out the best in people, and draw out such personal art and stories. I really admire what you are doing.

Isabel said...

I hope i will someday be able to take a class from you before you retire:O)Looks like you all had sooo much fun and all the wonderful art that was created:O)!!!Have an awesome day:O)

Βάσω Παππά Vasso Pappa said...

FANTASTIC WORK!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!! AMZING DOLLS!!! HAVE A NICE AND FULL OF ENERGY AND GREATION DAY!!!

rita maria said...

judy im in love with that black bird! it's so wonderful!
the very fact that you wrote this post says that it's not time for you to quit teaching just yet. you still have more to share :)

Jan said...

Judy, I loved your post. I believe there is balance between teaching and doing our work (practice). They inform each other ... we teach what we know and we learn from our students. The key is finding the right balance, which is the biggest challenge. I hope you find that balance.

Stephanie Lee said...

This is the way of the push pull, isn't it? Many of us know that dance but I'm not sure that AS many of us have such a pure love of sharing as deep and honest as you do. We are blessed to be the beneficiaries of that and I only hope I can emulate your path. For such a tiny woman, you sure do walk around in mighty big shoes!
oxoxoxox

Anonymous said...

Judy... I retired in January... Wonderful decision... Leap & the net wil appear!!! Suze

ginnycartersmallenburg said...

Judy, If you have changed your mind about teaching for me next year, just give a holler!

Heather said...

I am sure you face a big dilemma but I selfishly hope you hold off on retiring from teaching at least until I get the opportunity to take one of your classes. I would LOVE to take you doll class.

On another note, are you familiar with Wax Works West? Its an encaustic studio pretty close to where I live. If you ever had occasion to come this way I'd love to see you.

xo

Sue said...

What a delight to read your thoughts about how you feel when teaching, and how much such a group gives to each one taking part.
And it's such fun to see all these wonderful little creatures as a result.
I think you get far too much from teaching to give it up!
Why not reduce it a bit more so that it leaves you enough time for your own art?

Jenny Lee Wentworth said...

Follow your heart Judy, it won't steer you wrong. I hope your residency next year will be a time to recharge and focus on you and your beautiful work.
Love to you,
Jenny♥

spindelmaker said...

Thank you so much for a wonderful class, Judy! It was so nice to finally meet you :-) You do have a natural talent for teaching, for both making your students relax and feeling able, and in passing on the knowledge. I recognize your dilemma, but as long as you enjoy teaching, I think you should give a class or two every once in a while :-)
All my best, Janne

Parabolic Muse said...

WHAT are you trying to do? Make me get all sentimental and stuff? I've never taken one of your classes, but I hear the angels on high each time one begins. It's really kind of irritating, but I rise above the irritation to realize that what everyone always tells me about you is true. You Are A Teacher. Even here.

Also, you know the right spelling for the word judgment, which always gets on my good side.

xo

ELFI said...

magnifique résultat!