Meet the Teacher hosted by NCQC.

Photo courtesy of Mel Beach

Each year, quilt teachers, judges, quilt shop owners, museum staff, conference/show organizers, and guild representatives gather for regional Meet the Teachers (MTT) programs. Quilt teacher, Sarah Goer, describes MTT as “speed dating for quilt teachers and guild program chairs. It’s a great face-to-face opportunity to meet dozens of people in a short period of time.”

Currently there are regional MTTs organized in northern and southern California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, and the Heartland (serving Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Arkansas). MTTs help teachers and quilt professionals promote their workshop and lecture offerings to quilt guild representatives, shop owners, and quilt venue organizers. Space is provided for each presenter to display their samples, distribute marketing materials, and meet one-on-one with attendees to coordinate bookings. In addition to displaying their work, each teacher delivers a timed 3 or 4 minute presentation to an audience of 60 to 150 attendees. Gayle Visher, VP for Programs for the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association, shares that “the short time of the presentation means the teacher must be organized, and frankly it often showcases strengths and weaknesses in unexpected ways. You see sparks of humor, creativity, civility towards fellow teachers, and respectful appreciation for helpers and volunteers.”

Teacher Peggy Martin engages with MTT attendees at NCQC MTT.

Photo courtesy of Mel Beach

Meet the Teachers Programs Offer a Win-Win Scenario Where Everyone Benefits

MTTs can be a promotional asset to teachers at any phase of their career. Their contact information, website, and brief lecture/workshop descriptions are listed in an online Teacher Directory. For teachers new to the teaching circuit, MTTs provide the perfect venue to launch their educational offerings. Dora Cary, a first-time presenter at both California MTT venues, shares that it was “a chance to introduce myself and introduce my work to a large number of guild representatives all at once. As a result, I accumulated bookings two years in advance, with just one meeting!” Goer reports similar success from her first-time participation in the California MTTs.

“I signed two contracts on the spot” and numerous follow up communications, she shared.”

Having several MTT programs offered around the country provides a vehicle for teachers to expand their market. In my second year of teaching, I participated in the Southern California Council of Quilt Guilds MTT as a way of introducing myself to the southern California quilting community, resulting in several invitations to teach and lecture there.

Veteran teachers have much to gain from MTT participation as well. Deborah Boschert continues to participate in her local Texas Association of Quilt Guilds Annual Speaker Forum because “as a long-time teacher who teaches all over the country, it’s nice to book events that are close by. I usually require two full days of programming for my traveling gigs, but I’m happy to do a program for a local guild that I can just drive to and be back home that same night…it’s good to have an opportunity to remind local guilds that I’m still here, offering great workshops and publishing articles. If they’ve hired me in the past, I tell them I’ve got new programs and I’m eager to come see them again.”

Veteran teacher Sue Bleiweiss adds, “it was a good opportunity to get my name back out in front of some of the local guilds. I always prefer to teach locally if I can because it’s more convenient. Plus, since I hadn’t done it in a couple of years, I had a new book and new workshop offerings that I could plug.” Moreover, some MTT venues allow teachers to sell items, such as books, patterns, and kits out of their booths. MTT gatherings are also great for meeting with your colleagues and networking.

For attending representatives, MTTs provide a one-stop shopping opportunity to meet new teachers, preview innovative workshop offerings, and ultimately book programs. Michelle Banton has organized MTTs through the New England Quilt Museum for the past 7 years and shares that “this program helps the guild reps to actually meet the potential teachers and see if what they are teaching will mesh with the guilds, but also to gauge their personalities.”

For Melanie Dreike, Program Chair of South Bay Quilters Guild, “the best benefit of Meet the Teachers is that you can actually talk with the teachers and get a sense of their personality and teaching skills. It is a great thing to be able to see the teachers’ eyes light up when they talk about their workshops and lectures.”

Teacher, Sarah Goer takes the stage to present her workshop offerings at SCCQG MTT.

Photo courtesy of Mel Beach

NCQC audience attending teacher presentations.

Photo courtesy of Mel Beach

Tips for Attendees:

  • Come prepared. Poll your membership and gauge interest in specific topics or techniques. Visit participating teacher websites prior to MTT and makes note of specific teachers or workshops that may be of interest. Review your program budget and identify dates so you can discuss teacher fees and availability. Visher creates a chart with teacher names, techniques taught, speaking strength, and hometown to calculate potential travel expenses. Dreike suggests that “if you want to sign contracts while you are at MTT, make sure you come with a contract for each speaking date and time.”
  • Invite fellow reps to join the fun and provide input. It’s helpful to have another set of eyes and ears at these events. Dreike’s guild usually hosts the southern California MTT, and has a large number of members in attendance. When multiple members show interest in a teacher, Dreike is likely to follow up with a contract.
  • Gather information and ask questions. Visit each teacher, introduce yourself, ask questions and collect literature. Taking photos, with permission, may serve as a visual reminder for future booking.
  • Take notes. Visher encourages other reps to “write notes as you go. Use codes to help you recall what you liked about speakers. Your memory will fade once you’ve listened to 30 people, so it helps to star or mark those who make a strong impression.”
  • Network with reps from other guilds/associations. Visher encourages others to “talk to other attending representatives, especially if you are new to the event. They can provide great feedback on teachers they have hosted and suggest specific classes that have been successful. Sometimes you can collaborate on getting teachers to your area.” Block booking or co-hosting an out-of-town teacher can help off-set travel costs.

Tips for Presenters:

  • Do your homework. Review each organization’s requirements for participation, deadlines, fees, and logistics. Prepare for your MTT debut by attending an MTT event and/or reaching out to fellow teachers about their experiences.
  • Cary advises other teachers to “rehearse your presentation at home because the time is short, you only have three minutes and they can go fast … you need to shorten your presentation to its quintessence and focus on your strongest points.” Goer echoes the importance of rehearsing and warns teachers “don’t go over time. If they have to take the mic away from you mid-sentence because you’re out of time, that isn’t a good first impression.” You may also want to prepare an elevator pitch for those visiting your table.
  • Market Yourself. Create an enticing display of quilt samples and have literature available for reps to take, such as brochures, post cards, and business cards. Quilters are highly visual so be sure to include colorful photos, along with contact information and include your city to help them budget for travel costs. This year, Bleiweiss included a special promotion and offered $100 off her 2019 rates for groups that book before the end of the year. She was pleased that two guilds have already taken advantage of the offer.
  • Get Ready to Book Dates! Keep your calendar handy, along with blank copies of your contract, so you are ready to coordinate bookings. If you are traveling from a distance, arm yourself with estimated flight costs from your local airport. When several southern California guilds expressed initial concern about my travel expenses coming from San Jose, I was able to respond by providing inexpensive flight fees via Southwest where two bags fly for free!
  • Relax and have fun! You are surrounded by quilters who are interested in what you have to offer. Cary reminds others to “relax, smile, answer questions, and enjoy the event.”
Teacher, Katie Fowler, booking a teaching engagement at NCQC MTT.

Photo courtesy of Mel Beach

Regional Meet the Teacher Programs:

Author, Mel Beach, displays her workshop samples at SCCQG MTT.

Photo courtesy of Phyllis Kelley

Building Connections at “Meet the Teacher” Programs
Mel Beach

Mel Beach

contributor

Mel Beach is an award-winning quilt artist, teacher, lecturer, and blogger based out of San Jose, CA. Many of her quilts have been exhibited locally, juried into national quilt shows and traveling exhibits, published in books/magazines, earned awards/ribbons and selected as Finalists. She is an Aurifil Artisan, featured artist on The Quilt Show, and her quilts have been published in books and magazines.  www.melbeachquilts.com.

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