Today, I taught my very first photography class. I WAS EXTREMELY NERVOUS! But before I dive too deep into that, let me tell you WHY I am teaching.
I am taking a two week intensive course to learn the skills to becoming an effective, meaningful teacher, because one day, this might be something I want to do. Be it in a learning institution, workshops, or just hanging out teaching my friends - I want to be able to teach effectively so others who are interested in photography will actually learn something from what I have to say and show.
I’m one week into the course and I’ve cried (more than once) from being overwhelmed, exhausted, excited, and just needing to release some energy from all the emotions and ideas that have been running through my head for the past week, non stop.
One of our requirements for the course is to teach a lesson objective to our peers. Well, I chose to teach them something I know well! To modify light using a photographic reflector. (this sounds scary and confusing to understand but it is irrelevent to the rest of this post, so don’t worry if you’re thinking HUH???WHAT??? - it doesn’t matter).
After explaining and getting examples of what this means, what’s a reflector, why do we use one, where could we use this in a real life setting etc - it was time for the students to explore and actually DO something with all this information they’ve been given and figured it out for themselves. I got them up and moving, taking photos of one another and using the reflector in the way I showed them. And other ways too! Awesome! This is what I wanted to see and this is when I felt a shift in my confidence; when I could see my class taking part and getting excited about what they were learning. Asking questions and realizing “HEY! This is easy”, when most of them never thought twice about that ugly selfie they just snapped because it was fast and convenient to whip out their phone and just take the darn picture. As I went on with the lesson, I felt better and better about myself, because my students were being successful - and I could SEE that, and they could see it too. What an empowering experience. I am so thankful for this day.
At the beginning of the week and after the first few classes I attended in this course, I was completely at a loss. Feeling alone, and small, and like I didn’t know anything about teaching. All I could remind myself of, was that I have never taught, and everyone else in this course has - WHY AM I HERE? I used it as a crutch, so if I answered a question wrong, or seemed out of place…well…it’s because I’m not a teacher - or so I thought up until today.
After teaching my class the lesson on using the reflector, I was assessed by my course instructor. She’s been teaching me how to teach (now that has got to be a tough job). After leaving the classroom where I taught my lesson, walking down the hall (which felt like miles and miles), and finding a private room where we could close the door and chat, the first words that came out of my instructors mouth IN MY DIRECTION were…
YOU ARE AN INSTRUCTOR.
Huh? I am? Wait, can you say that again please?! That was just my first time teaching and it wasn’t even to a “real” class. And then it got me thinking.
When I photograph someone, I guide them through a process of steps. Stand here, look here, turn towards the light, shift your shoulders this way, etc. I am TEACHING them. I do this all the time, every day, any time I have a camera in my hands and am talking to my clients, I am teaching…so what was the reason for me being SO nervous to teach my peers in this course.
Was I scared they would judge me? No.
Was I scared I would forget how to use a reflector? No.
I was scared they wouldn’t LEARN. Well crap, that’s the whole reason I’m here in the first place. So if they don’t learning anything, I have failed.
Lucky for me, my instructors in the course have been amazing and my students all told me they learned from my lesson. An end of day success.
Now, time to relax and implement some of the things I learned from my peers teaching sessions today (specifically, how to open a bottle of wine)
Lots of love