Monday, August 1, 2016

Documenting Your Experience - It's Worth the Effort!

I need help keeping up with my own self.

When a "Call for Papers" is issued by a society, there is usually a section that asks for prior speaking experience.  In past years, I didn't really keep a record like I should have, and it was a difficult task to reconstruct all of those events.

So, I began a file in Dropbox to help me in that effort.  I call it my "Genealogy - Learning and Teaching List".  It looks like this:

Each time I attend a class or present a class via conference or webinar, it is recorded.  I looked back over my calendar, and using syllabi from conferences and webinars from various organizations, I put it together.  Let me show you what 2015 looks like:

Again, there are two divisions for each year -- one for learning and one for teaching.

Here is part of the file for learning:

The list goes on for several more pages.  It also includes conferences where I have attended classes.  As much as I love hanging out with genea-friends during these events, I am also there to learn!

The one I am showing below was the clincher for me:

Last November, I was reviewing my lists for 2015.  As I was adding up the various venues I had been part of, either in person or via webinar, I realized why I was feeling a bit worn out.  

The in-person events added up to 62.
The webinars accounted for about 15-20 more.

I made the decision to fulfill my commitments up to the end of June for this current year, and to spend the last half of the year working on my own.  That includes research on my own family, refreshing some of my lectures, and the development of new ones.

And, it has been wonderful!

I have made a trip to Kentucky, with another one planned in September.

I have refreshed about 1/3 of my current lectures.  The others are still in the works.

I am in the middle of developing four new ones, with a few more rolling around in the back of my head.

There have been some "Calls for Papers" that I have responded to, and when I do I include the cumulative experience that I garnered from compiling my lists.

Now, there is another reason I am keeping this type of a record.  As with any credentialing organization, I am required to renew my Accreditation through ICAPGen every five years.  Though I am not inclined to do client work anymore, I feel I must show that I am keeping myself current and fresh.

These lists do the job for me.

And, there's even one more reason.

I have talked with several genealogists through the years that would love to become part of the speaking circuit.  A few still have children at home, or for one reason or another are just not able to do it right now.

My advice:  Do the above!

Start where you're at, and begin to record and document every time you are asked to present a class anywhere.  It doesn't matter if it's:

  • At your child's school
  • Teaching a youth class at church
  • Helping Boy Scouts on a merit badge
  • Giving a class at the public library
  • Speaking at a local genealogy society
  • Demonstrating a skill at a local history fair (think spinning, churning butter, ropemaking, teaching about early settlers)
  • Serving as a docent at an historical site
  • Writing an article for your local state or county society
I think you get the idea.

All of these experiences count!  Most recently, a friend of mine was able to receive credit for two college classes because her cumulative list showed the advisor the needed field experience for teaching.  

Be sure to ask for a letter of recommendation from any organizer that you work with.  These can carry a lot of weight, especially if they keep asking you to return.

Your time and your effort count.  But, until you actually see it written down, you may not realize just how much you have done.

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