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      Laura Berlage

      nisse studentsStudent feedback in your teaching practice is essential.  Sometimes students will submit their thought to you directly, some through an evaluation form sent out by the host organization.  Now and then you’ll get that off-the-wall comment that was someone’s personal “bee in the bonnet” moment (which says more about them than it does about you), but most of the time I have found the responses to be thoughtful and helpful.  I’ve adjusted approaches, crafted new support materials, and found the strength to carry on in the face of questioning myself because of student feedback.

      Here are some of the thoughts from students I’ve collected with reguard to what being able to learn online has meant to them.  For student privacy, all identification of these students has been ommitted.

      “I deeply appreciate y’all providing Textile Weaving as an online class. I am disabled and immunocompromised, and the opportunity to learn from such an expert in the material is not often afforded to people such as myself, who struggle to leave my home and make it to in-person classes.”

      “Appreciated very much Laura and the Guild working together to make the class work for those of us in Canada.”

      “These classes have given me some much needed peaceful time.  I am creating something beautiful and my mind can be somewhat at rest (damn, those size 11 beads are small!).  Thank you for the calm environment you provide.  I truly enjoy the classes and learning more about my homeland.”

      “Laura is an excellent instructor and a source of constant inspiration.  Love her classes; so thankful to have her classes available online.”

      “Just neat to have Zoom available so people all over the country can do classes like this and not have to take time off for travel.”

      “Please have Laura teach more needle felting classes!! She is an amazing woman. I would like her to do her Fjord Horses class through zoom.   I really appreciated the class being on zoom as i would not have attended an in person class at this time of high covid transmission here. And I loved being able to do it from home and be comfy.”

      “Excellent course. The instructor shows a commitment to provide the students a valuable learning experience. She appears to be continually taking in feedback and enhancing the course. I was amazed that I could actually complete the project, especially online. But her clear and patient instructions made it possible for me to complete the project and be very happy with the results. Very happy with class and instructor and will take more classes from her online.”

      “I loved this course! I am a beginner and not very artistic, but the instructor was so easy to follow. I could see what she was working on close up, probably better than if I was there in person. The project was fun and relaxing. I also loved the singing the instructor did while we were working. She has a beautiful voice and I found it charming.”

      These comments are just scratching the surface compared with verbal feedback I’ve received.  Having an online option has meant the difference between feeling inspired, seen, heard, and loved for students in the face of a pandemic, caregiving for loved ones, or being unable to travel from home.  It has meant increased financial accessibility, as well as the meaningful option to find new friends they would have never otherwise met.  This is a beautiful opportunity for us to stewards, and how lucky we are to find ourselves at a time in technology when we can!

      Who might you wish to reach (audience) by teaching online?  What would you ideally like students to say about you as an instuctor and their experience (so we can make a pro plan for how to get there!)?  What do you love about online classes you’ve taken vs. what hasn’t worked well for you?  All these thoughts can help us become better educators, so please add yours here.

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