New To Teaching... Could Use Some Help.

Decorating By Calejo Updated 17 May 2005 , 3:46pm by Calejo

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Calejo Posted 10 May 2005 , 5:13am
post #1 of 13

I started cake decorating a year ago in a bakery, and have taken the Wilton courses too. I just recently got a job teaching others how to cake decorate, and my classes start in a few weeks. Needless to say, I'm biting my non-existent nails here. I'll be teaching everything from the basics to wedding cakes, and although I can do these things, it's another thing to teach others to do them too.

Long and the short of it is, I need some advice on how to approach this. Not only am I the "new kid on the block" and will have some of the store employees in my class which already took the previous lady's class (no pressure), and a few return customers, but I am also new to teaching cake decorating to a large group of people.

Stress... level.... rising.....

12 replies
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Lisa Posted 10 May 2005 , 5:34am
post #2 of 13

Well I've never taught cake decorating but I have taught middle school Language Arts and high school English. The best advice I can give you is to try and put yourself in their seat. If the class is on basics, don't breeze through it thinking it's easy...your students might end up lost. Teach everything as if you're teaching aliens from another planet--LOL! Be specific, descriptive, attentive and share your own stories about how you started out, what was hard for you, what you love (time permitting). Be funny if you can, admit it if you make a mistake, if a question is asked and you don't know the answer...say so. No one knows it all. That's all I can think of right now. You'll do great! We had a saying...Never leave your coffee unattended but I don't think you'll need that one icon_razz.gif

Oh...just to practice, start talking to yourself while you're decorating cakes. Pretend you're teaching someone. Warn others in the house so they don't think the pressure has gotten to you icon_wink.gif

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cupcakequeen Posted 10 May 2005 , 5:42am
post #3 of 13

Great advice Lisa! I teach elementary aged students and no one can eat you alive quite like they can! LOL....

I am also starting to teach Wilton Cake Decorating next weekend! Teaching adults is going to be different for me, but a nice change, I hope! I'm just more nervous about the technical parts since I in no way consider myself a cake decorating pro icon_smile.gif

Calejo...just remember to have fun! You love cake decorating and are skillful, so just let that shine through! It's always a great learning experience when the person who is teaching you has a passion for what s/he is doing icon_smile.gif

Good luck!

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Lisa Posted 10 May 2005 , 6:10am
post #4 of 13
Originally Posted by cupcakequeen

Great advice Lisa! I teach elementary aged students and no one can eat you alive quite like they can! LOL....

Isn't that the truth! Let me tell you though that adults are similar in some ways when they're in a classroom environment. I've taught a few peer workshops. They talk amongst themselves when you're trying to teach, daydream and miss what you've said and have to ask, get frustrated and let you know it...they won't blow spitballs though TG!

I thought of a few other things to share...

Smile. It will make everyone feel better. Praise. Be sympathetic. Be patient.

We had a workshop called Teacher as Actor that really helped me when I first started out. Basically you tell yourself I'm the teacher and you play the part. If you feel nervous, act calm. If you feel insecure, act confident. Before long, you'll settle in and really feel calm and confident. This was really important for me. Kids in HS can smell fear!

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Calejo Posted 10 May 2005 , 2:30pm
post #5 of 13

This is wonderful. I am so glad I posted. Maybe I'm so nervous because these people are paying for this class, and I still feel like a newbie in so many ways! Sometimes, I still have a hard time with my rose bases wanting to fall over when I'm wrapping the first petal around it (no matter how stiff my consistency is)! icon_cry.gif I've been practicing more and more, but I still worry about screwing up in front of them, or someone asking me a question and me just standing there staring at them like a cow stares at a new fence! icon_lol.gif

Not only that, but I'm supposed to teach in 2 classes, only a few hours each, what it took a month for me to learn. icon_sad.gif But, I'm doing my best to come up with a game plan, and still make time for one-on-one help. I know I was always better as a hands-on learner rather than a "show and tell" type.

Thank you for listening and for all of your advice.

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cakegal Posted 12 May 2005 , 5:41pm
post #6 of 13

When I took my wilton courses my teacher was a newbie.... she would show me the way she learned how to do things.....i probably new more things in areas than she did....but I picked up on some neat tricks of doing things from her....I enjoyed my classes very much....and my teacher wasn't a talker either....just a doer...LOL... she broke the ice the first day by handing out this:

The 10 Commandments of Cake Decorating

1. The WILTON way is the only way in class.
2. Thou shall not suck icing from tips.
3. Thou shall not lick icing from spatula, finger, or any other body part.
4. Thou shall not wipe hand on clothes or apron, for you shall use a wet towel.
5. Thou shall not over fill icing bags.
6. Thou shall practice at home daily.
7. Thou shall measure all ingredients.
8. Thou shall read next weeks' lesson and prepare for that lesson ahead.
9. Thou shall write down all questions to ask instructor before class.
10. Thou shall remember to have FUN, FUN, FUN, while we learn.

Happy teaching...

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KarenOR Posted 12 May 2005 , 6:22pm
post #7 of 13

Do you have a friend or someone that would be willing to sit and have you "practice" teaching, asking questions, etc. I find that actually teaching something is the best way to master it. Since you already know the cake stuff, just practicing how to explain it, will make you a lot less nervous! Good luck!

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Mchelle Posted 12 May 2005 , 6:43pm
post #8 of 13

cakegal, you were reading my mind I was going to post that. My teacher gave that out too. Believe me it helped.

Calejo, I'm sure that once you get going you'll do great. It's amazing that we think OMG, and then get to it and you say, What was I so worried about. You'll do fine! let us know how it goes.

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Sahmlock Posted 12 May 2005 , 6:59pm
post #9 of 13

The Wilton instructor position would not be made available to you, if you were NOT qualified to do it. Talk POSITIVELY and only allow yourself to entertain POSITIVE thoughts. You have to take control of your MINDSET and GO FOR IT!
Think about What made you agree to do this anyhow? At some point you felt confident enough to do this, or you would NOT have agreed.
It is good that you are taking into consideration that people PAID for the class, is not a 3 credit college course! CA-Ching Ca-Ching!!!$$$ So, dont worry!!! My store offered the class FREE with the purchase of hte course kit....very worth it!!!
You probably have learned many shortcuts, etc.....(especiall from this board!!!) and you will be able to share these! Plus, you can call upon the time when you took classes!!!
I loved looking at all of the pictures of cakes that my instructor made! The pictures, alone, would stand to show your experience in this field!Also, you will be making the students feel much more comfortable admitting that it took you months to learn....they probably will have put you up on some pedestal and think that there is no way they could learn to do what you have done...and you will be able to totally emphathize and say that you didnt completely get it the FIRST night of class either, etc...Plus the book is very good at spelling it all out.....people can rely on that AND get a VISUAL example from you! Don't stress!!! RELAX and enjoy...and you might learn from the students as well...It will probably proove to be very rewarding for everyone involved!!!
I wont say Good Luck because I dont think Luck is involved in this.....I will simply say....Trust in yourself! YOu can do it!

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cupcakequeen Posted 12 May 2005 , 7:03pm
post #10 of 13

Thanks for sharing the commandments, cakegal. I think that's a greatw ay to break the ice! I look forward to using that piece!

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ump107 Posted 13 May 2005 , 7:15am
post #11 of 13

I do a lot of teaching of adults; I am a Fire and CPR instructor. So basically I teach people from 16 and up the oldest person I have taught CPR to was 75 the oldest firefighting student I taught was 65. The best tip I can give you is assume nothing of your students. Start off as if they know nothing, if they are very knowledgeable you can speed up. Asking questions of the entire class may not provide accurate results of the knowledge base you have to work with, as the student may be embarrassed to admit in front of a group they dont know something that is considered common knowledge. Depending on how many students you have if one student is having difficulty try not to let them take all of your attention from the other students. The first time you teach will be the most difficult, as you teach more classes you will get more comfortable. Practice your lesson in front of a mirror or even in front of a video camera. (Yes, you will look insane to your family but they get over it) You can see what you may be doing wrong. And you will also get a rough idea how much you will be able to fit into each night of class.
Good luck teaching.

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Chrystal Posted 13 May 2005 , 10:05pm
post #12 of 13

i teach sugar pulling classes also.. and its so hard to get your point across without thinking your going to fast or slow or someone doesn't understand.. Definately you need to have a bond with these peiople. So if you are not making something easy or clear someone will tell you. Tell them you are new..that helps too.. And I go over every lesson twice before i get up there. One time at home..and one time when i get to class before the students come in...

good luck>!!

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Calejo Posted 17 May 2005 , 3:46pm
post #13 of 13

Thank you so much for your help!

I am currently working on the lesson layout I will do on the first day. I'm not a Wilton instructor yet, as my area has no available positions, I'm doing it for a cake decorating supply store. So, I had no outline or book to work with, but I think now that I'm getting it down on paper, I'll be fine.

I have made at least one "victim" icon_twisted.gif , er, I mean, guinea pig, when I taught my friend how to do a basic wedding cake with fondant, and I taught her how to paint on fondant. We had a lot of fun!

I would like to explain the difference between fondant and marzipan, but I've never worked with marzipan in any way. I'm not even sure what it's made of. Any ideas?

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