My semester is beginning soon at the College of Staten Island. As of my last review of the registration, I have over 60 students across two classes. It is so exciting for me to get back into the college classroom after focusing exclusively for the past year on the K-12 classroom. There are lots of differences between teaching a bunch of college students vs any other age group – but there are also lots of similarities. Across the board, most students are waiting for you to entertain them and thankfully I am pretty entertaining but the older students are usually more easily taught – I think.
It is a hard comparison to make though because most of my K-12 experience is as a floater; I rarely have the same class consecutively although I do sometimes have the same classes pop up over a stretch of time. Meanwhile as an adjunct, I have the same class throughout the semester. It is more of a relationship because I am with them throughout a whole term. It also leads to a more mentoring type of relationship where I always help my students with their resumes, interviewing and real world advice and more.
This spring semester, I am teaching Corporate Finance, which is a favorite of mine – believe it or not. I mean, I love teaching everything but there is something about Corporate Finance that I really enjoy sharing. Part of this is because I have actually used these formulae and skills in my career in Corporate America AND as an entrepreneur. Plus, there is so much you can add on to with the lessons in the text book, especially as someone who lived through the 2007-2009 financial crisis and saw with my own eyes the $2 bill taped to the windows at Bear Stearn in protest over their stock being sold for $2 a share…
I also enjoy teaching the younger kids and floating, learning different schools and different methods of instruction. Sometimes, I am a secondary teacher in a room and those are my favorite days because I can learn so much from the lead teacher and also do some teaching myself under the watchful eye of a pro. And they are pros. Every K-12 teacher I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with has been so wonderful and so open to sharing and helping the “new kid on the block”. Even though I have been teaching since 2003 transitioning those teaching skills to the younger grades is a challenge. I am not going to lie -being in a room of 30 Kindergartners is one of the most challenging thing to do in anyone’s life. I think so, anyway. Give me a 50 student room of Freshman college students and tell me I have to teach them Macro or Micro economics over that K room of 30 any day!
Something I would be remiss if I did not mention is my observations of people's reactions to each of my "jobs" as a teacher / professor. The reaction of people when they hear I am a “professor” even an adjunct one leads to admiration and impressed reactions of how I handle being a professor, how wonderful it is and what a great career path etc etc. When I say, “teacher”, I do not get the same responses. It is sad. As an adjunct, I do take great pride in my teaching and my research and even considered getting a doctorate and becoming a full professor somewhere. And that might still happen if I can clone myself and find the time to do it…
However, being a teacher of younger students even as "young" as high school (blogger note: we knew it all at 14-17, too - don't you remember?), is an honor and a privilege. I can see how these teachers really impact these kids and even though I know I have impacted many of my college students, they come to me already “formed” – these students I teach at college are mainly adults (or almost adults) who know who they are and what they want to do and all I can do is provide my advice and insights into their already made decisions. For the younger students, they are not yet there – they are still forming who they are, what they are good at and what they can be in the future. These students are more malleable and formed by these teachers who are with them every day and sometimes are the adults that spend the most time with them in their lives due to work and schedules.
No matter the age group, I do love teaching and I am honored to be the teacher whether for a day, a week or a whole semester. I do look forward to one day being certified in Math grades 7-12 and using my unique background and insights to help those aged students move forward in their lives and educations and helping form them on their way to adulthood. For now, though, I am so excited to be teaching in Spring and helping a college class learn all they can about corporate finance and careers!
What do you think about my observations? Are you a teacher or do you love a teacher? If so, thank them for their work no matter what age they teach – it is all challenging and rewarding… Happy Hunting!
Lisa Vento Nielsen