Thursday, January 9, 2014

Marrying Passions: Bicycles & Teaching

I wear my passion for bicycling on my sleeve. But, my passion for teaching is lesser-known. For me, marrying these passions is bliss. Biking + Teaching = <3.

And so it goes without saying that I am super-duper pumped to be teaching a class on bicycle touring!

When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a teacher. Like many other girls, I taught a class of invisible students. I'd make handouts, discipline the unruly children, and keep a grade book. I loved teaching.

When I was a big kid, in graduate school, I was a teaching assistant. Whereas the professor taught the large lecture classes, I taught a subset of the students in weekly breakout sections. I loved teaching.

When I got out into the real world, I got myself an Adjunct Faculty position at Mesa Community College and later at the College of Lake County, teaching accounting and tax classes. I continued to love teaching.

I always received positive feedback from my teaching reviews. My faculty mentors and my students agreed that I relayed concepts well, that I encouraged students to give it their all, and that I set clear expectations up front and held steadfast to those expectations. Of course, you'll always get a few students who are disappointed that they can't sleep through the class and still earn an "A."

There is a website called, where students rate their professors and scope out ratings for other professors who might instruct future classes. Surprisingly, three students have provided feedback on my teaching via the website.

Students critique my teaching on
Reading the comments makes me chuckle!

Apparently I suck, and I give homework "up the butt" -- lovely! At least I'm good looking!

I was not a teacher who gave grades easily. I believed that students actually had to earn their grades. (Gasp!) My syllabus, which I gave to students on the first day of class, clearly stated that I expected students to treat my class as though it was a real-world job, where punctuality, communication skills, and respect were a given.

Frankly, I could have cared less if my students left my class remembering a damn thing about accounting or tax. It was, however, important to me that my students learned how to be conscientious individuals in the real-world.

In 2006, I moved out to Seattle and began a Ph.D. program at the University of Washington. I wanted to be involved in academic research, focusing on the valuation of intangibles. But more importantly, I wanted to teach. (Aside: I dropped out of the PhD program. It wasn't for me. It was the best mistake I ever made, though, as I can't imagine how I would otherwise have been exposed to the wonderful Pacific Northwest.) Though I have since become somewhat disenchanted by formal education, I still loved teaching.

A few years ago, I was engaged in discussions with the University of Phoenix about teaching through their eCampus. Though I very much wanted to teach, the opportunity just didn't make sense. The time-to-pay ratio was dismal (as is the case for most teaching jobs), especially given that I was employed full-time at Amazon and had very little free time to start with.

Nothing has changed. I still love to teach.

A few months ago, a little light turned on somewhere in the middle of my mushy brain, and I thought to myself, "Why don't I teach a class on bicycle touring?" Bingo! I can't think of a more wonderful way to combine my passions for teaching and touring!

I proposed to teach a class called "The Basics of Bicycle Touring" to both the University of Washington's Experimental College and North Seattle Community College's Continuing Education Program. The proposals involved identifying the course objectives, creating a course outline, and providing background on my teaching experience.

My proposals were accepted, the interviews (which included a brief teaching demonstration) went well, and I was given the green light to teach the class. Woohoo!

I will be teaching the touring class this winter semester through the University of Washington's Experimental College on Tuesday, January 28th and Wednesday, February 5th. Those interested in taking the class can register via

In the spring semester, I will be teaching the class at North Seattle Community College on Saturday, April 12th and Thursday, April 17th. I will also teach the class through the Experimental College, though the dates have yet to be determined.

Depending on the interest that the course generates, I may propose a separate field-trip class or more advanced touring courses for later semesters.

I'm looking forward to sharing my cycle touring knowledge, experiences, and enthusiasm with others!


  1. This class sounds absolutely awesome. What a great idea. I wish you all the best with it, and I'll be checking back to get updates on how it goes.

  2. This is very cool! The UW kids could use some basic training in bikes in general, I dodge them daily on my bike commute home! They are lucky to have you


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