Whether you’re about to book a course for beginners or more advanced cake decorating or baking classes that specialises in sugarpaste, chocolate, buttercream or tiered cakes, you’ll want to make the most of it. After all, for most of us, attending a class like this is a bit (or a lot ) of an investment.
Here’s a 10 point checklist to help you make the most of your learning experience.
Before your cake decorating class
Check what you’ll be needing on the day –
Attending a class, especially if you don’t go with a friend you already know, can feel a little daunting at first. Chances are you’ll soon start chatting with the other students (helped by a shared passion or hobby), but you want to avoid arriving unprepared, to find out you needed to bring something that you don’t have. Most baking, cake decorating or chocolate classes (in fact, most courses) now supply everything you’ll need, from ingredients to equipment, lunch, refreshments and even notepads and pens sometimes. It’s not however always the case, so do double check, and if in doubt, call or email the organiser to find out. Even if all the ingredients are supplied for example, you might need to bring a box to take your creation home.
Plan ahead –
From planning your journey, places to park your car, to preparing an easy to reheat family dinner and even the next day’s school lunches and sport kits… it’s worth taking a little time to get organised before you set off on your course. Classes can be really full on even if it doesn’t feel like it on the day. By the time you head home you might want to relax, put your feet up or review your notes and pictures. Having that extra time back home by having prepped all you can for that evening and the following day might feel truly blissful. (I am talking from experience here, can you tell?)
Interact on social media –
One great way to feel less intimidated when you arrive for your class is to know one or a few people there. Of course you could always take a friend (I am a great believer that it makes your day even more fun and enjoyable) but if that’s not possible, why not make the most of social media to get to know some of the other students ahead of the course. Twitter is perfect for this. Check out if there’s a hashtag associated with the course, it will make it easy to sieve through all the conversations on Twitter to meet fellow students. If you are wondering what a hashtag is and what it does, here’s a quick guide on that.
Another great way to feel immediately more at ease when you join a baking, chocolate or cake decorating course is to look up your teacher on social media and start interacting with them. You can start asking questions you may have, see what other courses they offer or what news they are sharing. It might give you an easy topic to talk to when you first meet face to face.
On the day-
Turn your phone on air plane mode –
Don’t get me wrong, I love the technology and benefits that smartphones have given us. But….they can also be a real source of distraction, especially if you are used to check your emails from your phone or get quite a lot of texts during the day. By putting your phone on airplane mode, you won’t get any distracting notifications and you’ll still be able to use it to capture photos and videos to help you after the class, when you’re ready to practice at home. Which brings me to my next point
Take lots of photos and videos –
When I mean lots, I don’t mean that you should view the whole day through your phone. But, it’s often very helpful to have visual references of specific moments or techniques. Video snippets are fantastic for this too, often capturing a lot more than all your notes would enable you to. Saying this,you might also want to
Take notes –
Although you’ll be able to capture a lot of the course steps with visuals, taking notes helps you concentrate and learn. You can read more on this here.
Go with a friend –
It might not help you learn more but it’s very likely to make your day more enjoyable and fun. Plus you’ll have someone to talk to on the way there and back and you might also decide to share travelling costs.
Exchange social media details with other attendees –
Ok so you might not become BFF with all the other students, but for a start you share a common interest, since it’s what brought you to the class in the first place. It can be really useful to exchange social media details to keep in touch. For example it can help you:
- compare notes on a point you’re not sure about after going home
- get help if you get stuck practicing at home
- see what creations and projects the other students design after the course, and give you new ideas
After the class
Schedule time to practice again soon after and often –
When you learn a new skill, the more you practice it, the more it will be come second nature – so you will be able to do it withotu thinking as much. You’ll also get better at it. Starting to practice soon after your course means the memories of what you have learnt are still fresh in your mind.
Also, and especially if you went on a course that’s more demonstration based than hands -on (where each student has a station to practice the contents of the course after the teacher demonstrates it), practicing your newly learnt skills will be key to truly master it. Let me explain:
It’s very possible that, even if you start practicing just after your course, things might not go according to plan to start with. It’s important to allow yourself to have temporary failures. I find that no matter how closely I listen when I go on a new course, and even if I can practice on the day, I come home and have forgotten some technical details of what I have learnt…and fail part of my first “post-class practice”. Failing (in that context) is good for you. It enables you to revisit what you might have not fully assimilated, go back to your notes, videos and photos, find the missing information and try again. However, to give you a safety net too so you can in time master all that you have learnt, it’s also important to….
Join a relevant community group online –
It might be that the organiser of the course has set one up. At Pudding Fairy, there’s “les amoureux du cake and chocolate”, a community page on Facebook, free to join and use, where members can share baking and cake decorating tips, ask for help from the other members or myself when they get stuck trying a new cake or dessert or chocolate techniques, and showcase their creations to give each other new ideas. There’s also a recipe #saturdayswap – each member is invited to share a recipe they have tried and liked with the rest of the group, each….Saturday. Try to find the best group for your hobby and make sure to contribute and help others too. It can feel very rewarding to share your own knowledge and get someome out of a sore spot.
Are there other points you think should be on this check list? Have you got any concerns about trying a class or a course on baking or cake decorating or chocolate? there’s a box for comments below, feel free to send me a question or feedback through it.