Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What It Takes To Be An Instructor At The World Balloon Convention.

I am regularly asked, "What does it take to become an industry instructor?" In my mind, a good instructor is someone who has a skill, design style, or techniques that others are interested in seeing and learning, and secondly, that they have the ability to pass on their skills to others in a professional and competent manner. Having a good understanding of what makes a good instructor is essential. 

Potential instructors are often spotted through their skills as a balloon artist; maybe at a convention where they have entered and won competitions, and others through their everyday work and social media presence.

Being an industry instructor is no easy task. It can be pretty challenging at times, always nerve wrecking, but it can be very rewarding, too!

WBC instructors are approached about a year in advance of the event. They are asked to suggest potential class ideas. Once classes have been agreed, they have the arduous task of designing their 90-minute classes. Deciding on what to teach and show in those precious 90-minutes is vital to the success of the class. WBC delegates come from all over the world. This year, we had representation from 52 countries! Not all delegates speak English as a first language, so it's vital that whatever is taught must be visual enough for all delegates to fully understand. The instructors need to ensure that their classes are well prepared, action-packed with great content, informative, delivered according to the class level and the class description, and fun! And finally, their class notes and materials list, including everything that they need for their classes, are submitted approximately four months before the event!

Avital and Nir Schechter CBA's of Baloney Nir in Katzrin, Israel.

This year, we had several first-time WBC Instructors. I thought it would be great to find out what Avital and Nir Schechter, CBA's of Baloney Nir in Katzrin, Israel, and Jackie Ochitwa, CBA, of With a Twist Balloon Creations in Alberta, Canada, thought about their first World Balloon Convention! 

Avital and Nir Schechter
Was this your first time at WBC or have you been before as an attendee?
"This was our first time at WBC, and surely not our last! What an adventure, and what a great honor to be instructors at our first WBC. We couldn`t have asked for a better stage to make our classes at. Great opportunity, amazing people, and very good energies!" 

Were you apprehensive about teaching at WBC?
"Of course! Since it was our first WBC, we didn`t really know what to expect. So in order to be more confident about our classes, we made a lot of preparations so we could bring a perfect and well-organized class. The minute we saw all the nice and smiling faces of the attendees at the beginning of our classes, we knew that everything would be just fine. And luckily, we were right ☺  

How much time did it take you to prepare for your classes before arriving in San Diego?
"The preparations for our classes at WBC took over a year. It was an interesting process since we`ve tried to use our experience as delegates at conventions in order to bring practical, informative and useful class. It was very important to us to explore the designs of the classes in actual events, so we could answer all the possible answers and bring our experience to the class."

How do you feel that your classes went?
"In one word- amazing! In 5 words- can we do it again?! When we knew that our classes were fully booked few weeks before the convention, we were extremely excited, but also felt a lot of responsibility to prove the attendees that they made the right choice. The classes went so quickly. We enjoyed every minute. We would like to say thank you to all of the amazing staff of WBC that helped us so much behind the scenes. We would also like to say thank you to all of the attendees of our classes for making this experience so special for us. We were very touched by your great feedback and kind words, and we appreciate it so much."  

Selfie Mania - Design by Nir & Avital Schechter

What were your WBC highlights?
"Our WBC highlights were the parties, the competitions, and the classes. The parties - because of the opportunity to hang out with the most kind and talented people in the world. We didn’t want any party to end! The decor, the music, the dancefloor, the energies - you need to experience it in order to understand it. The competitions - because that’s where the top of the top of the balloon art is at. Watching the competitors making their creations was like attending 10 classes at the same time! It was very inspiring and mind-blowing. The classes - luckily, we had the chance to join few of the classes besides teaching ours and they were awesome. We can`t wait to implement what we`ve learned at the classes in our own business (and the notebook is a treasure!). "

What would you say to anyone considering attending WBC in the future?
"You have 2 years to save up money to WBC 2020 - start NOW! We've been in many conventions in the past, but nothing is compared to the experience we had at WBC. That`s the place to meet the superstars of the balloon world, to enjoy outstanding parties, and to attend classes that will pay back your investment by taking your business to the next level. Add to that the mind-blowing competition pieces (and your opportunity to show off your skills by attending the competitions), talented instructors and unique and electric energies - and you've got all the reasons why to attend WBC. We can't wait for the next one!"

Jackie Ochitwa

Jackie with delegate Shivani Chandhok from India

"I was very apprehensive about teaching at WBC. I was pretty new (incredibly new!) to the teaching world when I was asked.  I had just come home from my first big instructing job at FLOAT 2017 when I received an e-mail from Pioneer asking if I would teach at WBC 2018.  I couldn't believe it!  I was even more apprehensive after I saw the incredible line-up of teachers announced.  It was surreal to see my name grouped with Luc Bertrand, Alberto Falcone, and Sue Bowler.  Preparation for classes began almost immediately.  There were many deadlines to meet, and I was incredibly impressed at how well organized the event is.  It's a well-oiled machine from start to finish.  I sent in a number of possible class ideas and we settled on one.  From there, it was filling out forms for product and any additional equipment we would need.

"I was thankfully eased into my classes - the first four classes were taught alongside a number of incredibly talented balloon twisters.  David and Shana Brenion, and Nao Osaka, the Shechters from Israel (who are the cutest couple I have ever met), to name a few.  We made some adorable accessories for the upcoming Beach Party in one class and had a really fun jam session led by the Brenions for the other.  The day did eventually come for my two solo classes.  I was more nervous than I thought I would be.  I had done all the preparation I could have - I made an example piece that I was happy with.  There were so many people behind the scenes that were there to help out - Braden Meyer helped set up my classroom and was a beast in tracking down more (and more) inflators for the class to use.  I decided that we would have a standing, hands-on class, so a couple hours before the first one started we moved all the chairs out of the room and piled in as many tables as we could find.  I was hoping the students would be tired of sitting at this point and embrace standing - and they did!  A good friend Mandana Moshrefzadeh, was an angel and helped me through both my solo classes. I couldn't have done it without her.  The classes were fun, laid back, and the students were so keen to learn. They made it easy for me."

"One of my highlights from WBC 2018 was the instructor's prep room.  It sounds silly as it was not very glamorous and incredibly noisy and filled with panic at times.  It was also filled with silliness and music and a lot of comradery.  Instructors from Italy, Venezuela, Brazil, Japan, Belgium, Israel - so many language barriers, but we were all working towards the same goal.  I had so much support from everybody around me.  They made being a first-time instructor so much easier.  Everybody was so welcoming and there if I needed anything.

Jackie with fellow instructors, Nir and Avital Schechter, CBA's Nao Osaka,
Patty Jacobo, CBA, Nicole Greg, CBA, Shana and David Brenion, and Sean Rogers, CBA.

For anybody attending WBC in the future, I would say appreciate all the work that goes in behind the scenes.  I had no idea what it took to put on such a spectacular event, and I'm sure there is so much I didn't see.  I'm excited to go to my first WBC as an attendee and to see it from the other side.  Although I will miss the prep room."

I am really enjoying this first-time series of blogs from this year's World Balloon Convention. My final part (coming soon) will be from some first-time delegates and what they thought about their WBC experience.

A huge thank you to Avital, Nir, and Jackie for sharing their experience with us all!

Happy Ballooning!



MatJBLewis said...

Very well said Sue. It's long hours, sleepless nights but the reward is knowing you have helped someone progress within their business. It's always a pleasure to teach at WBC.

Unknown said...

I kept nodding my head and smiling as I was reading Avital, Nir and Jackie's experience!it truly is the best experience ever!

Unknown said...

Thank you dear Sue for interviewing us for your blog :)
It was such a pleasure to be part of amazing instructors in an extraordinary event. Already miss you all, hope to see you soon again! Love your blog ❤

Unknown said...

Great read. Happy to be part of this group (and enjoyed every minute in the prep roomas well :-) ).