Saturday, January 24, 2015

Branching from Researching to Teaching


Since 2008, I have been on a stimulating journey to immerse myself in the ways of genealogy.  My genealogy education has included taking a series of beginner and intermediate classes through the Oakland Family History Center and the California Genealogical Society and Library.  As a member of CGS, I also attended countless presentations and workshops, and volunteered in the areas of desk duty, technology maintenance and teaching the beginner’s class on Saturday mornings.  All of these experiences provided far more than knowledge; they provided opportunities for learning genealogy both inside and outside the classroom through networking, sharing and giving back.  After gaining so much knowledge from several years of genealogy self-education and from befriending myself into an extremely supportive researcher community, I felt confident and prepared to submit a proposal to Berkeley Adult Education in 2012 to teach a nine week genealogy class.  My proposal was accepted but I did not end up teaching the class because I moved shortly thereafter to Massachusetts for a new job.  

After adjusting to my new job and community, I pulled the proposal off the shelf and prepared a one-hour genealogy talk to be delivered as a special presentation at the local senior center.  My interest was to tap the community’s interest in genealogy.  Several months earlier, I had started volunteering as the leader of the weekly iPad Club so my reputation to engage with seniors had already been established at the center.  The talk was well-received.  It was also recorded live by the local cable television network which gave more exposure to the idea of a genealogy class.  When I was packing up my materials, I was pleased to see that ten folks has signed an interest form for enrolling in a future genealogy class.

Budding Genealogists in Auburn, MA
Now, I knew there were enough people who were passionate and curious about genealogy to populate a weekly class at the center.  A few months later, the class started meeting on Wednesday evenings. I offered foundation-laying genealogy lectures with homework assignments which propelled the new students into searching for home sources and starting online research.  Each week, the level of enthusiasm seemed to go higher and higher particularly when individuals shared feedback from their initial research and from interviews with their family members.  The class culminated with trips to the local library in which I was able to assist the budding genealogists in real time with researching on ancestry.com.

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