Repetition is part of the Learning Process
"There is a lot to learn. You will be taking these classes several times."
She is so right.
Learning photography is a slow buildup from one step to the next. The thing to is that you really can't skip any steps. In order to progress you need to have the foundation knowledge in place otherwise you are completely lost.
What makes it tougher is that there are two sides to this crazy hobby/job that we need to be immersed in fully; taking the photo and processing the photo. This means we need to learn the ins and outs of photography and all it entails (equipment, lighting, composition, narrative, balance, etc) and then how to bring out our initial vision in post processing (correcting, manipulating, layering, etc.).
So if at any time you start feeling frustrated, don't give up hope. Realize that you are passing through a process we all must follow. Here is a trick that works for me when things begin to overwhelm me. Set everything aside and don't touch it for a couple of days. Let your mind re-set itself. Then when you return to the camera pick one very small aspect of the problem and work on resolving that. It might be something directly linked to some button or function on the camera or a setting combination you just can't grasp.
Whatever it is, try to distill it to it's basic form or function and start from ground zero. Begin by doing a quick review of what you already know. Go back to your camera (or equipment) manual and refresh your memory. You will get the tendency to skip or rush through the easy stuff. Force yourself to slow down and revisit these early memories. Many times it is during this part of the review where you will get that "a-ha!" moment and a connection will click.
I can't tell you how many times I have done this and that proverbial light bulb has come on over my head. I'll catch myself feeling rather stupid with myself for not having seen it earlier.
Another point I'd like to make is that you need to learn from different teachers. Different teachers will offer different perspectives on the same subject. Somewhere along the way one of them will have that little sliver of wisdom that makes the pieces fall together for you. Different views also help round out, shape and solidify a theory better than just one person telling you the same thing over and over.
So don't give up hope. It's frustrating at times but, as with anything else, practice makes perfect.