What kinds of classes, programs, or workshops have you taken to hone your skill as a writer? What sorts of exercises did/do you use to improve your craft? Have you ever taught a writing class or workshop?
Where to start? In college, I majored in English Lit with a specialty in creative writing poetry. So in addition to lit classes, I took three poetry workshops, and one fiction. I don't know why I majored in English. Back then I would have told you because I love to read...great reason, right? Now though, I think it happened for a reason. I've been writing not only fiction but poetry for a very long time...since elementary school, really. I recently found a book I wrote in elementary school in a notebook (yes, that was before computers). 'Book' is a loose generalization. It was fiction, but without any sort of structure.
So in college I was a moody, depressed, eff-the-world-poet. I holed up in my dorm room at night listening to music, smoking pot (sorry mom and dad), and writing poetry. Freeform - I shunned any sort of structure. I even won a contest and had to read a poem in front of an auditorium of people and made the cover of our school newspaper. Nice, right? I think I won $100 too.
I went dormant for a while after college - for like five years. It was after a trip to Key West with two girlfriends when I was 28, and also after a good friend committed suicide that I decided to dive back in. Key West inspired me. The minute I got back I dove into a novel - the first draft of my latest completed novel, and my baby. To hone my skills, I took a class at the local community college, where I got my first taste of critiquing (outside of college). I also met three fantastic individuals who were interested in forming a writing group after class, and for three years I think we met every two or three weeks, sharing stories, critiquing, hashing out the rules, and becoming great friends. Even though I'm the only one still writing, we're great friends to this day. It's amazing how close you become to people when you share your writing, and at the same time, share a little bit of your soul. I owe a lot of what I know to that group. I even still keep in contact with one of the teachers (who happens to work with my brother-in-law - STL is such a small town embedded in a big city).
We read short story compilations, talked about them, did writing prompts from a book geared towards teaching the fundamentals, and generally supported and encouraged one another. We even read stories out loud at a local open mic night - a fantastic and scary experience. I've saved all of my writing from that time, and it's really interesting to see how much I gained from the group.
I've never taught a class, but I'm an active member of a few critique sites on the internet, and also love critiquing queries (not sure how good I am since I can't sell a novel, but that's another story). So though I don't formally teach, I love sharing what I've learned with others, and also love learning from other people.
Well, that's my class experience in a nutshell. A very big nutshell.