In today’s installment, we’re talking with Amy Evers, who teaches AP U.S. government, AP economics (macro and micro), US government honors, and “We are the People” at Clark High School in Las Vegas, NV.
Here is what she had to say:
How long have you been teaching economics? What do you love most about it?
This is my sixth year teaching economics. Initially when I was told I would teach the class I not excited at all! I struggled with economics in college and was concerned that I would only confuse students since I was quite confused as well. However, I saw it as a challenge that I had to overcome.
I spent the summer teaching myself economics and went to an AP Economics Summer Institute for additional help. The first year was difficult at times but I had a very understanding group of students and things gradually got easier.
I would say I am now VERY confident in my economics knowledge and actually enjoy the subject. This is what I love about teaching economics. I was able to overcome my lack of understanding and I can use this perspective to help my students when they struggle. Also, due to its difficult nature I feel very empowered to have an understanding of economics.
What are your biggest challenges in teaching economics?
Getting my students to think like economists!
Microeconomics has so much to do about the behavior of consumers and all of my students can relate to being a consumer. However, they cannot relate in economic terms.
For example, if the price of something goes up and the student decides not to buy it they have difficulty relating this to elasticity of demand.
In my class I really try to use a lot of real world examples to help students. I’ll ask students to give me an example of how they “thought like an economist” recently using economic terminology. This has helped improve their understanding.
You’re currently serving on the SF Fed Educational Advisory Group (EAG). How has the experience changed your teaching and/or your professional development?
I really appreciate the opportunity to interact with other economics teachers. Despite my school district being the 5th largest in the U.S., there are less than ten economics teachers. I rarely get to share ideas of exchange plans.
The EAG has allowed me to get perspectives on teaching economics from so many colleagues. I am also really happy to use all of the web resources on frbsf.org. I have incorporated the videos, powerpoints, and articles extensively in my AP Macroeconomics course.
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My district is moving towards requiring a quarter of economics for all seniors. With a limited number of fellow economics teachers in my district, there is a need for professional development to be offered to others.
I applied be approved to deliver professional development at the end of last school year. I’m waiting for the approval and can’t wait to begin planning.
I imagine creating seminars on basic economics and well as curricular methods. I will definitely use SF Fed resources and share their value with fellow teachers in the classroom.
What has been a recent impactful experience that involves your students and economics education?
I recently attended Meet the Experts at the San Francisco Federal Reserve. I especially enjoyed the presentation on cash operations and economic mobility of the American Dream. I plan to share this information with my students. Mary Daly‘s presentation in particular will be a great discussion for all of my government classes. We can relate it to policy-making and how the study can have an impact on government decisions.
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What advice would you give you teachers (of any subject) who would like to insert more economics into their lessons but aren’t sure where to start?
Economics may seem difficult but is only because most people don’t think using economic terms. I would advise them to seek out resources in which economics relates to current events or real life experiences.
Use these resources with your students and then explain the economic concepts that relate. Also, I recommend reading a book like Freakonomics or Naked Economics because they are engaging and do a great job of explaining the concepts. Also, attend any professional development you can find. Other teachers are an amazing resource and they can provide many great tips and suggestions.
Anything else you’d like to share about your experiences teaching economics?
At the beginning of the school year I have my students read an article about the inefficiency of gift giving. We talk about how the most efficient gift is cash because it allows the recipient to do what they want with it. It’s always humorous to have students recall gifts they’ve received that they didn’t want.
However, we also discuss why giving cash is efficient but not always appropriate based on the relationship. It helps students to understand the balance of what economics is in theory and in practice.
One year before winter break my students got together and gave me a gift. The homemade card explained that they decided the best gift for an economics teacher was one that was the most efficient. Inside was a $20 bill : )
Thanks for talking with us, Amy!
* If you’d like to see Amy talk about her experience at the State Of the Union Address in Washington, D.C., here’s an interview she did with a local news station.
And in case you missed it, check out previous posts in the series:
Cheryl Shea of Pinnacle High School (Phoenix, AZ)
Stan Herder of Hawaii Baptist Academy (Honolulu, HI)
Jonnie Fenton of Hanford High School (Richland, WA)
Greg Blandino of Monte Vista High School (Danville, CA)