Since 1983, The Professional Quilter and now the International Association of Professional Quilters have recognized one teacher with its Teacher of the Year Award. This year’s award goes to Peggy Martin, a quilt teacher from San Diego, Calif., who specializes in foundation piecing. Here’s an excerpt from the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter that provides some insight into Peggy’s teaching philosophy.
What standards of workmanship do you require of your students?
What do you do if they don’t attain them?
Students work with different strengths and weaknesses and different levels of experience as well. Presenting techniques and tips to improve the end result is what I try to do; I can’t say I actually “require” any particular standard of workmanship in my classes. I am happy if they try their best, realizing that better results will come with practice. In that same vein, if someone is clearly struggling, I try to make positive suggestions, rather than providing a negative critique. Asking students if they’re happy with their work will often bring up any issues they have had, and suggestions can then be made for improving their work. Students take classes to learn new techniques and to have fun, so I try to create as comfortable and relaxed an environment as I possibly can, which includes an accepting attitude. We all aim for perfection, but making something perfect is not the goal. Learning and feeling appreciated and validated for their efforts are what I try to provide for my students.
How do you encourage creativity in your students?
Part of my teaching always includes showing alternative methods to achieve the same result. I also try to show variations in terms of color and style of fabrics with many different setting options. By showing students the steps I go through when coming up with new ideas, it gets their own wheels turning and they begin to realize how easy it is to explore their own creativity. I’m never happier than when students comes up with a totally different look for their quilts than I have shown them. Seeing that spark of excitement and watching them take the next step beyond is one of my greatest thrills as a teacher.
How do you encourage students’ further growth in quilting, beyond the formal class?
Making sure that students leave the class with the idea that there are myriad possibilities and options open to them and trying to encourage them to have the courage to explore new ideas is one of the things I try to accomplish. Many people lack confidence in their own creativity, and I hope to bolster their faith in themselves, so they leave class with the courage to trust themselves to try their own ideas and follow their own instincts.
You can read more about Peggy Martin in the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter. This journal is just one of the benefits of membership in the International Association of Professional Quilters. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.