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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Good Nervous

I'm a little bit nervous about the new course I begin teaching on Thursday.

That's a good thing.

It's not because I'm an inexperienced teacher. I began teaching part-time almost 20 years ago, when after taking a Kaplan course and achieving a high score on my GMAT, Kaplan asked if I had ever thought about being an instructor.

As it happens, I had! In fact, there are only three careers I've ever considered for myself: executive, writer, and teacher. I went the business route because I knew this would likely be the most financially-rewarding path... and reasoned that if I was successful enough in business, publishers would ask me to write a book and universities would ask me to teach: win-win-win! I thought Kaplan was offering me a unique opportunity to get some early experience at the front of the classroom, I told them I'd give it a try.

Not surprisingly, I was nervous before my first-ever Kaplan class. Sure, I was already comfortable in front of audiences after years of school presentations and public speaking competitions. And I knew the material well enough to have scored well on the GMAT myself. But did I know it well enough to teach it to others? I wasn't certain, but I was eager to find out. So I prepared well for the class. I reviewed the course material. I reviewed all of the notes from my Kaplan "teacher prep" classes. I practiced what I would say at key transition points. And you know what? Everything went well.

Naturally, the more I taught, the less nervous I became. Eventually, I wasn't nervous at all. I got so comfortable with teaching the material, that one day when I arrived at Kaplan and discovered I had forgotten my Instructor's book at home -- the one with all my teaching notes in it -- I proceeded to teach the course from memory.

That's around the time when I decided it was time to stop teaching.

When I was new to teaching, students would ask me questions I hadn't heard before, and I'd have to think of creative ways to explain the material in a way that the students would get it. That made me nervous, but the challenge of figuring out a way to help my students understand was exciting!

But after eight or so years of teaching the same material, I had heard all of the questions students would have on the coursework, in almost every imaginable form. And I had prepared responses for each of those questions. There was nothing new for me to learn, and the challenge was gone.

On Thursday, I'll be teaching an undergraduate Strategic Marketing Communications course for my alma mater, the Schulich School of Business at York University.

I have over 10 years of teaching experience and over 20 years of marketing experience. Heck, I even have four years of experience as a Schulich BBA.

This should be a piece of cake, right?

But I'm still nervous.

I'm using a textbook I've never used before, so while I may be intimately familiar with the concepts, I'm not yet fully comfortable with how those concepts are being presented.

I have 42 students currently registered for my class... and there's a waiting list! The largest class I've ever taught to date had 20 people in it, so I need to figure out how to hold the attention of such a large group for two to three hours each week.

And, except for a smaller 10-person class I taught last summer, all of my previous classes have involved everyone being together in the same room. This class will be delivered online, via Zoom. There's so much that can go wrong with technology when you're teaching an online class, despite the best-laid plans.

This new class represents a new experience, with new potential challenges...

... so I'm a little bit nervous about the new course I begin teaching on Thursday.

But it's a good nervous.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

- dp


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