Every two years the Stone Trust certifies Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) Level 2 Intermediate Wallers as DSWA and Stone Trust instructors. This year we also gathered the full array of waller-teachers to address a range of considerations:
- What are the goals and characteristics of each of the Stone Trust sites? (Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Tennessee; Barre, Vermont; Dummerston, Vermont)
- How do we ensure and advance high-quality instruction at every workshop at every site?
- What’s going well in each of the six versions of our Introduction to Dry Stone Walling workshops? What improvements do instructors recommend?
- How do we support instructors and other professional wallers as they seek to move up the certification pathway?
On March 8, thirty-three wallers certified at Level 2 Intermediate, Level 3 Advanced, and Level 4 Master Craftsman gathered in person and virtually to engage those questions. An Advanced Waller even joined us from Bulgaria!
How did instructors answer the questions?
- You are pleased with our growth and glad to see training in the art and craft of dry stone walling become more widely available.
- You were “blown away by the amount of time and work put into [the instructor evaluation rubric]. It is much needed!”
- You feel comfortable that the rubric provides direction about where you want to go as a Stone Trust instructor.
- In general, you think the intro workshops have demonstrated themselves as tried and true.
- The 1-Day Intro and Women’s Intro serve many beginners well. It is accessible to many people in terms of time commitment and cost.
- The 2-Day Intro and 2-Day Women’s Intro allows for more thorough understanding and application of the 5 Basic Rules.
- The Contractors Intro can be improved by solidifying material on pricing projects and sourcing stone. It should probably become a two-day course.
- And it is so satisfying to teach the Contractors Intensive. Over five days you get to know the students, observe their progress, and watch them prove themselves on the Level 1 Initial Waller certification test.
- At least two-thirds of the wallers present in the room raised their hands when asked if you are considering moving from Level 2 Intermediate to Level 3 Advanced.
- The first issue, how to find a place to build your feature wall.
- Then come the costs. The cost in time (lost income) and money (stone costs, too) presents a considerable challenge. Examination is costly, too.
- This year, the Stone Trust has begun providing mentorship and is establishing an annual schedule for Advanced Waller and Master Craftsman testing to help reduce examination costs.
Thank you, waller-teachers! We are grateful for your gift of time and for the thoughtfulness you bring to developing the Stone Trust learning community. The Stone Trust exists because of what you know about the art and craft of dry stone walling.
Thanks very much to Victoria Merriman for her thoughtful reformatting of the Instructor Evaluation Rubric and for sharing her detailed notes. You can expect to receive copies of all.
Fourteen wallers stayed on for two days of training in how to teach dry stone walling. Seven experienced instructors returned to deepen their understanding of how to create engaging learning environments for all comers. They gave the gift of their presence to the seven certifying instructors, providing mentoring and modeling. This blended approach to instructor training stands as a strength.
During mornings in the classroom, facilitator Steve Jonas taught key principles for engaging learners. During afternoon teaching sessions on the walls, you practiced maintaining a helicopter view and addressing individual learning styles. You considered how to engage people through their dominant learning style–visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. You contemplated how to interact with introverts and extroverts. You discussed stages of group development, practiced techniques for giving and receiving feedback, thought ahead about how to establish successful co-facilitation. Together you co-created safe space for contemplating awareness of the diversity students bring to the learning space. The Stone Trust feels honored to offer our friends instructors like you!