The Teacher in Me (Part 2)

The teaching I do through Cooperative Extension is not classroom teaching. Other than other extension educators, I tend to see my students only once. Over the past thirty years, I’ve presented personal finance information to the public and provided training to county-based Cooperative Extension educators, school teachers, and others to provide personal finance education to youth and adult audiences.

This past spring semester marked my return to the classroom for the first time since graduate school thirty years ago. I taught Introduction to Family and Consumer Sciences — a one-credit course every student in the college must take to graduate. With guest lecturers for almost every session, I didn’t have teach so much as manage the class.

Although I’ve done dozens of guest lectures over the years, I never thought I’d teach a class at UGA. This past semester was a fluke. A section was added at the last minute because the other had filled up and they were desperate.

My first semester was tough. I did fine, but missed three weeks of class with the flu, another week for a conference, and yet another when Andy passed away. Getting used to the technology was a challenge. Teaching it again is unlikely, but I’d do a much better job. Experience is a great teacher.

Last week, my department head asked me about teaching a different class this fall. Consumers in Society is a three-credit introductory course for all majors in Financial Planning, Housing, and Consumer Economics. The class is a prerequisite for many classes and is only offered once a year.

Teaching a one-credit course took a lot more time than I’d expected — and I only had to prepare one lecture all semester. The new course meets twice a week for 75 minutes. For a one-time thing, preparing all those lectures to teach Consumers in Society would require a huge investment of my time. My department head agreed.

We came up with a win-win-win solution. I’m going to teach the class twice a year. Students won’t have to wait a semester to get into courses they need to graduate.  Me teaching the class also frees up other faculty to teach upper division courses.

I started college in the fall of 1976 wanting to teach, but circumstances took me in a different direction. I’m not complaining. It’s been a great ride, but at this stage of my career, I welcome the opportunity to do what I’ve always wanted to do.