The Joys of Teaching

This June I had the pleasure of working with high school students participating in the 4-H Teen Conference held at the University of Kentucky. Underneath their health major, another student and myself proposed a nutrition course titled #HealthGoals. Together, the objective of our course was to inform students of basic nutrition facts, guidelines, and consequences of overnutrition, as well as to introduce the students to fruits that are traditionally less eaten, and healthier snack options. While my colleague and I prepared intensively for the class, what we were not ready for was how much joy our group of students were going to bring us. We packed each day with interactive nutrition activities and games and on the last day played, what turned out to be, a very competitive game of jeopardy. However, what made each class spectacular was how engaged each student deemed to be. We received all types of questions ranging from why do we need water to what we thought about the ketogenic diet. With this being a group of high school students, one thing that was important to us was ensuring that each day be filled with engaging activities that would best promote learning and retention. Each student came equipped with varying educational backgrounds. However, whatever the case may be, we wanted, possibly their first, nutrition educational experience to be an impactful one.

For the course the bulk of the class consisted of a powerpoint prepared with basic nutrition facts such as how many servings of fruits and vegetables are required for their age group, for example. However, we made sure to break up the powerpoint with fun quizzes. Other activities that the students did to break up the lecture included:

  • Create an individualized meal plan utilizing Choose MyPlate
  • Make a healthy “no bake” snack
  • 1-minute presentations on their favorite fruit/vegetable that included the season it is grown in, calories per serving, ways to prepare it, and key nutrients
  • “Non-traditional” fruit tasting that included students peeling and cutting the fruit
  • Jeopardy
  • Long and short term health goals and how to reach them

Maybe this is how it always feels to teach, or maybe we just got lucky with an amazing group of students. Whatever the case may be, this is a memory that I will cherish forever.

Can you think back to your first teaching experience? Is there anything that you would change or knowledge you would pass on to help future educators?