Learning How to Teach

One of the most interesting aspects of being a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) is that you get to learn in order to teach. The journey of exploring Zentangle techniques is a wonder in itself… but as a CZT, I CAN translate my exploration into classes for others. Sometimes it works and sometimes it really does not.

One of the first group classes I taught, I had far too many tangles to teach in the time allotted, I was not at a strong level with the technology I was using, and I found myself impacted by the facial expressions of my students. It was not ideal, but the learning experience of it was exactly what I needed. From this experience, I learned that I do better with a whiteboard demonstration, adventurous students, and a flow-style class. I also learned that I need to set my students up for success by being confident, clear, and by sharing my heart and mind intentions. That brings me to the most recent class experience I wanted to share about – Maptangling with Fragments.

Class prep and demonstration pieces

You are allowed to say “Thank You”

I started by sharing my hopes for the time together, my appreciation for each student, and my rule. Golden Rule of a Tangled Artist Class: “You are allowed to say thank you. You are not allowed to put down your work.” I remind students that we often hear a compliment and our gut reaction is “But I could have… ” or “I should have this…” or “I wish it was…” Like in the scene from Wayne’s World shown below. Terry tells people he loves them all through the movie… Garth knows best – “Just say, ‘thank you'”.

210 WAYNE`S WORLD by Sullivan ideas | wayne, wayne's world, world

Terry – “I love you man.”
Russel (Driver) – “I love you.”
Terry – “No you don’t man. I LOVE you man!”
Garth – “Just say ‘thank you.'”
Terry – “I love you man”
Russel (Driver) – “Thank you.”

Terry hugs Russel

For the record, I am the Terry in the above scene. During the pandemic, I have told more people that I love them than I have in my entire life! What I add to my golden rule is that the students can trust that I am genuine and honest with what I say. I will not compliment someone’s tangling or drawing in a fake way. In order to do this though, I need to treat myself the same way (the well-known golden rule).

From the rule and intentions I move into what they can expect from our time together in terms of instruction, technology, and learning outcome. This sounds dry but I have seen rest come over the student’s faces as I share what journey they are on with me. It also gives me a nudge to follow my schedule.

When you “just be” as an artist, beauty is found….

In this class I recently did, each student asked for what they needed throughout the time, I did multiple demonstrations on the whiteboard so they could choose their own colours and approach. As you can see below, the results were beautiful!

I had no idea while I was teaching what splash each student started with or what colours they were going to choose. For supplies I only encouraged that the pen choice be a darker version of the splash laid down.

The top image shows a student playing with three partnering colours on the wheel: yellow, green, blue

The bottom image shows a student letting the splash dictate what pen they chose to ensure that the original background colour choice was not lost.

Both show how unique each of us are and how beauty is created when we take a leap and “just be” as artists.

Consider taking a look at my class offerings and sign up here! Your leap towards seeing what beauty appears will be worth it!


Hospitality – June 13, 2021

When hearing some of the definitions of hospitality this morning… “to pursue…” and “befriending strangers”, I realized that these are some of the philosophies that shape me as a Certified Zentangle Teacher and ultimately who I am as a person.

It was in my college days when a friend told me I was a “pursuer”. She gave a word to fit the boldness that seemed to flow through me as I continuously got to know anyone who would make eye contact with me. Sometimes the pursuit would be reciprocated, but either way I pressed forward whether rejection was in my path or not.

This month is a minefield for me in terms of grief triggers. June captures the anniversary of when my father passed away, his birthday, and Father’s Day. This year, I am trying to intentionally remember good things and joyful rippling effects of my Dad’s life as a way to fill my tank for the possible onslaught of grief in the coming weeks.

This “befriending strangers” concept put my Dad’s face and life on my mind – I believe for a reason. He modeled for me regularly the same patterns I see in myself of talking to strangers with no fear of rejection and how to treat people. He treated anyone serving him as if they were the most important person in that moment. This is something I have done from a young age also and is something that has made Covid-19 restrictions difficult to walk through. Lately, I have been grateful that my husband and I have gone into grocery stores versus curbside pick-up so I can talk to cashiers and thank them for working so I could get what I needed. I had an awesome conversation with someone the other day about how the store was supporting McMaster Children’s hospital and why I wanted to donate. She was amazingly receptive to my chatter and even shared a small amount of her journey. Being honest, I stuttered as I am still re-learning how to talk to people outside of screen, but seeing the smile in her eyes and hearing her amusment, made the momentary pursuit absolutely worth it.

In the realm of teaching Zentangle, I think of the pursuit part as putting classes out into the world and seeing who needs them and then taking that opportunity to help people befriend strangers. Recently, I was able to teach my first “Broken Fragements” class with a completely random set of people. It was great to see what they had in common as we learned and tangled together. Though spread across the ocean and North America, we were united for 2 hours in the joy of each other’s company, individual inspiration, and the awareness that we may not have ever met if not for the pandemic pushing things to a virtual state.

I hope I can continue to see much more joy and rest in showing hospitality as a Certified Zentangle Teacher while continuing to see who is placed in my path as a person.