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Dan's Blog

Teachable Moment 👨🏽‍🏫

March 24, 2020

For several years I have been teaching a personal finance class at the University of Redlands. Before that I wove teacher saving-for-retirement information into the social studies methods courses I taught at the University of New Mexico. Whenever I would share historical market data I would always caution students that while the market has been going up for more than a decade a severe drop could happen at any time. Then the market would go up further. And then boom! It happened. It finally happened. The market experienced a severe drop. And then another drop. What a teachable moment! I couldn't wait to discuss this real time information with my students. But then, ironically perhaps, the very reason for the drop prevented us from meeting in person.

How Fast a Drop?

This chart, from Visual Capitalist, depicts the fastest times the S&P 500 dropped 20 percent from a market high. 

No Closure

I do not like the drop in the value of my portfolio. But I like even less that I cannot meet with my students in person. While I 100% percent support the University's decision to move all instruction online, I am just very disappointed that we can't discuss this face-to-face. 

It's an Online World

Most of the class assignments were already submitted via an online learning platform, so the transition to online teaching, for me at least, was not difficult. Anyone who has taught both online and face-to-face knows that it is almost impossible to replicate the in-class experience. But as nearly every teacher in the country is finding out, we need to figure out fast how best to replicate this kind of instruction. Thanks to the great folks at Next Gen Personal Finance I learned about an excellent online teaching tool: Nearpod which allows instructors to intergrate student participation into PowerPoint presentations. When you couple Nearpod with Zoom, you have a pretty great classroom experience. I realize that not all school districts, or students for that matter, have access to these tools. But if your school and students do, these are pretty great teaching resources.

Virtual 403(b) Education

We at 403bwise are incorporating these tools into our educational offerings. In fact, Scott Dauenhauer, CFP® and I ran two sessions today on the recent market turbulence using Nearpod + Zoom. It was great to connect with (and see) educators from all over the country. BTW: teachers have really cute kids and pets. We definitely (read: me) made some mistakes. I didn't make clear to attendees in advance that you need either a desktop/laptop computer that can run Zoom and Nearpod in separate windows, or a phone and an iPod-like device (run Zoom on phone and view Nearpod presentation on iPad; get the apps as well). We will be clearer about that going forward. 

More 403bwise Events Coming

Teachers in our second video conference suggested a session on how to lobby an employer to add better 403(b) vendor choices. We will begin cratfting such a lesson shortly. Check out our Events Calendar to see our line up of upcoming presentations. I hope to "see" many of you soon.