Teach your children well

What the hey, why not end the week with another song-inspired headline?

A friend and I have been working on and off for the past year at developing the skeleton of a training program/class/seminar on Financial Literacy.

The subject is one we both find critically important.  Given the startling level of personal debt in this country, as well as the staggering number of home foreclosures, it’s clear many people are challenged to make the right financial decisions.  Compound that with an extended poor economy and you have a dreadful fix many adults find themselves within.

My friend and I wanted to concentrate on teens and young adults, for if the parents are already in dire straits, where can they turn to be properly prepared for the increasing number of decisions they will soon be making for themselves?  We imagined the program could be expanded later on to include adults, taking a different setting and format.

Yesterday, I received a call from him at the school he has taken a back office position doing marketing and financial reviews.  He asked me if I would consider substitute teaching, as needed and available.  The call was not so out of the blue as it seems, for I have long desired to do some form of teaching (perhaps I’ll recount my recent explorations in that direction in some future post) and, as well documented in this blog, enjoy kids.

Still, I had to ask how I could be considered for a substitute teaching job when I wasn’t a teacher and had no teaching credentials (discounting my time served as a trainer of certain financial classes in my past job).  Wouldn’t I need to study the textbooks and the lesson plans?  What aid could I be to students in a specific subject without that framework?  Sure, I have massive experience and knowledge related to business, finance and advertising, but how many classes outside of college need that expertise?

My friend’s answer suggested that the position is perhaps more grand than it appears.  He told me that it was likely the students already had the necessary directions to work during the class periods and it was unlikely I would be doing any actual teaching.  In that form, it sounds like I was being asked to be a substitute, not a substitute teacher.  Or, as I asked him, was I going to be nothing more than a babysitter by another name?

As a former member of the business world, I can see the validity of bringing in unqualified individuals with specific subject knowledge in emergencies, since regular teachers would probably need regular work.  From a parental or other interested observer view, I wonder if that adds any value.  And with this tough economy and so many layoffs even within education, surely there are real teachers who would be better suited?  Unless there are of union rules against that, for which I cannot even speculate.

All the above might imply I was unwilling to accept the offer.  To the contrary, I was happy to agree (I just thought there would be better candidates).  I still feel nervous about not being able to, you know, actually teach the class, but I presume the school administrators can figure out who should or shouldn’t be at the front of the classroom better than me.

Nothing is imminent, as far as I can tell.  There’s the whole resume thing (gosh, when was the last time I looked at that?) and the background check.  As long as they don’t ask any of my friends (and especially my nieces) about my sense of humor, I should be okay.

I look forward to the opportunity, should it come.  However the day turns out, it should make a fun blog!

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