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A Little Advice: Tips To Start Your Own Class!

Words by Marléna Ahearn
Photos by Julia Merrell

As an expert in your own craft, teaching a class can have a unique appeal: it's an opportunity to share your knowledge with others, connect with people you haven't met beforeand perhaps even spread the word about your business in a different kind of way!

Some of our teachers have been sharing their knowledge with us for years (like Anna Vos, who has been teaching with us since 2014!) and know what it's like to turn an idea for a class into the real deal. So we thought.. let's pick their brains!

Have an idea for a class but aren't quite sure what to do next? Here’s a little advice (and when you're ready, apply to teach here).

Christin Ortiz, Teacher of Meal Planning: From Everyday to Entertaining

Christin Ortiz

How did you go about designing a class? 

In the same way I have designed menus that start with ‘what do I want to eat?’ classes start with ‘what do I love to share?’ I’ve also just asked certain people what they would want to learn in that setting. If I think it’s in my cooking wheelhouse, I will certainly try to teach it! 

What advice would you give people thinking about starting their own class? 

Everyone who feels like they have something to share, should share it!

Shelby Beyler, Teacher of Houseplants 101: An Introduction to Plant Parenthood

Shelby Beyler

What challenges did you/do you encounter? 

My biggest challenge is public speaking. Getting over the hurdle that 30 people will be staring at me and asking me questions is difficult. I also have trouble with making sure I keep my lexicon and information at the level of the students. I don't want to teach them something they already know and I also don't want to start using scientific words and lose them half way through the lecture. 

What advice would you give people thinking about starting their own class? 

People who attend your classes are very understanding. It's as informal or formal as you make it. I would always preface my classes by letting people know how awkward I am in front of crowds of 30 sets of eyes watching my every move and I think it helped ease my discomfort. The students were always empathetic and would cheer me on. It’s a communal effort. Don't let the fear of public speaking deter you. And, mistakes happen. The more classes I teach, the better I get at it. The same will happen for you! 

Emily Pelkowski, Teacher of Productive and Creative Journaling

 Emily Pelkowski

What inspired your class?

My class was inspired when I found a planning system (often referred to as "planner peace") that literally changed my life for the better. When I began journaling regularly, I realized that I was fulfilling a creative void in myself that I didn't know I had! I also recognized the importance of continually self-reflecting in order to become the best version of myself. Doing these things in my creative journal made me more productive and organized, and I HAD to share it with other people!

What is unique about the teaching environment at Rochester Brainery? 

Teaching is one of my favorite parts of my full-time job, but I love teaching at Rochester Brainery because I have an opportunity to dig deeper into some of my personally favorite topics. Also, you meet some incredible people along the way!

Follow your curiosity! No interest is too quirky or specific — there are plenty of people out there who share your interests and will be excited to have an opportunity to learn more about it.

Anna Vos, Teacher of Brush Calligraphy and Make Your Own Pierogi

Anna Vos

What inspired your class? 

After I had my daughter (who’s almost 6!), I needed to get OUT of the house, so I started going to Rochester Brainery classes. I loved the atmosphere, learning something new, and meeting new people, so I started thinking: What could I teach? I had made pierogi with my grandmother almost every year of my life, so I decided to pitch that class to the staff. Now, almost six years later, I teach seven different classes on a rotating basis: the pierogi class and a variety of hand-lettering and calligraphy classes.

What is unique about the teaching environment at Rochester Brainery?

Everyone is so excited to learn! I’m not sure I’m cut out for teaching large groups of kids, but I think having a group of adults coming together to learn a new skill is so magical. It forces us out of our comfort zones and encourages us to show ourselves kindness as we do so.

Marisa Krol, Teacher of Stamped Necklaces and Stacking Rings 

Marisa Krol

What advice would you give people thinking about starting their own class?

Discover what you are passionate about, and trust that YOU are the one meant to share it. Your passion will fuel your enthusiasm for your area of “expertise” and that will make you a confident teacher and create the basis for a really fun, creative class! 

As for the term “expertise," make love your expertise. I don’t consider myself an expert in anything, but a perpetual student of life. I love what I do, And I feel fortunate to have been able to create a life centered around it. The ultimate expression of this is sharing this love with others, and seeing the joy and curiosity it brings them!

Excited to start teaching? Check out how to create a class and apply to teach at Rochester Brainery.