Today begins an excellent opportunity that I’d say is a huge win. I will be volunteering with an organization that is geared towards empowering youth for economic success in grades K-12. I have been assigned to a 5th grade classroom comprised of 27 students. I have one of my colleagues to thank for introducing me to this organization, because without that I am unsure if I would have ever discovered this opportunity. To say that I am starting to volunteer for this program at the beginning of National Financial Literacy Month is a another win. The best part? There is no monetary expense for my volunteering. The only expense is my time (any non-monetary expense to take on an opportunity that could potentially enrich your life is amazing – no questions). I’d now say this is a Win-Win-Win situation (with no conflict included). I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as a money mentor for these students (also, fortunate that my job & boss allow me the flexibility to do so – even if it means coming back a couple minutes late from my lunch break to volunteer).
Enter in anxiety…
Here’s the catch…I am beyond nervous to enter into that classroom tomorrow (gosh, I commend the fantastic school teachers for their line of work and commitment to teaching). It’s actually pretty ironic. I am a Speech Comm. major who in the past had a job that required speaking in front of large audiences ranging from 20-1000+ people. I’ve led group meetings and tackled solo speeches on podiums without missing a beat. I’ve emcee’d for campus events & have performed on stages at nation wide dance competitions. Yet for one of the first times I am feeling nervous, vulnerable and anxious. The idea of 27 sets of innocent eyes on me speaking of money, entrepreneurship & the economy makes me want to melt (just like Olaf without his snow cloud). Their knowledge almost seems fragile to me and what I contribute to their learning could have a pretty profound effect on them.
So why do you feel this way?
I’ve been questioning that in my mind & I believe I’ve finally landed on the reason. I will be giving lessons to these 5th grade students and may be providing one of their very first introductions to money. Yes, these students may have learned from their parents and/or guardians, but I will be added as another money mentor in their mind. Am I ready to take this on? I have been reading personal finance books and articles, pouring over blogs, listening to podcasts/audiobooks, participating in tweetchats, and writing to promote & ensure the financial success of myself and others that visit GenerationYRA. It’s feasible to apply to my own life and grow with trial & error, as well as share my experiences to those in my generation and older…but to teach to 5th graders? To break down concepts into reasonable analogies, gain a connection of understanding, commit to making the learning fun – I feel like toast (yeah, toast!).
The glorious resolution:
You know what? I’m not toast. I am ready! I am thrilled to become a money mentor for this classroom. The idea that these economic lessons will be incorporated into their regular school day is phenomenal. To provide interactive, hands-on learning for the students to exercise these concepts is even more wonderful. I am a huge advocate for speaking transparently about finances (as many of you who read this are, as well)! How can we learn and apply financial topics, if there aren’t even opportunities to do so? This organization allows that, and I cannot wait to provide these students with lessons that will have a lasting impact for (hopefully) the rest of their lives. The other dynamic part of this opportunity is that I am sure that I will learn a ton from the perspective of these 5th graders. I think back to elementary & middle school days when I went through programs like D.A.R.E, STARS, and TATU. I remember looking up to the high school students and volunteers who led these programs thinking they were so cool. I admired them. They were taking the time to teach us young-ins to stay away from drugs, tobacco and the like. Now, it’s my turn to provide that positive influence & mentorship for students and I’m going to own it.