Something New to Try!

So, this is my first official blog post of #MTBoSBlaugust… I saw an activity at ESCALA’s HSI Summer Institute that I am going to adapt for my Statistics course.

What was the activity? In a group, we were asked to look at miscellaneous graphs related to how Latinx students were doing in K-12 and college, as well as some graphics related to Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs). After we had time to discuss the graphs, we were told to number ourselves off within our tables and #3 had to explain the graph the group looked at.

When would I use it? My plan would be to use this at the very beginning of the course as a way to introduce the different graphical displays for data.

This would be replacing my previous activity:

Mystery question: Students fill out questionnaires with one missing question, which they then get the data for. I give them large post-it notes and they have to display and summarize their data in any way they can think of while brainstorming what the question may have been that was answered. I do this before they are introduced formally to any displays, so it’s always a great opportunity to discuss some unfortunate choices. 🙂

Now, I’m a bit concerned that the fun aspect of the mystery question activity is worthwhile, along with the curiosity of wanting to know the question… and that we do learn about our fellow classmates. However, the fact that it is backwards from how we’d normally deal with Statistics – starting with a question and using data to answer it – maybe it’s worth scrapping? And I can infuse some interesting topics and social justice issues with the graphs I choose to have us discuss, so perhaps I won’t lose the curiosity with the switch. And it will be less of an organizational challenge than the mystery question (inevitably some student writes down units despite my numerous reminders not to) and possibly quicker to implement. Only time will tell. I may do both in my traditional class that meets twice a week, but will likely opt for just the graph group descriptions in my hybrid class.

Prompt #2: Conferencing

Oops! I got behind… but here’s week 2!

I can’t see how you would have ended up here without knowing the prompt, but here it is:

  • Discuss the role that attending conferences plays in your professional learning.
  • Reflect on one valuable conference experience you had and discuss why you found it valuable.
  • Let us know what happens once your conference experience is over. Do you share what you’ve learned and, if so, how and with whom?

Hooray! This is not fluffy. This is practical and related to what I love the most – professional learning! 

Hanging out with old colleagues in Denver at AMATYC 2017. The goofy hat was forced upon me since I was on the local area committee for 2018.

Conferences don’t play too large a role in my professional learning. Mostly because of how they are scheduled – I’m a complete control freak in my classes and don’t like leaving my students to anyone else. So I miss out on most conferences because they are during the school year and overlap with classes. I guess that other educators use their summers for actual vacation or something. I usually prefer a day-long workshop or a webinar or just checking up on some #MTBoS blogs to get my professional learning on.

Anyway I’ve been lucky enough to attend AMATYC for the last two years in a row. To me the most valuable part of a conference is the ability to meet, network, and share ideas with other people passionate about helping students. At AMATYC 2017, I was able to reconnect with a bunch of colleagues and find out what was happening at their colleges and departments. At AMATYC 2018, I was able to meet a bunch of professors from other schools as well as some of my stats idols pictured below.

A ton of #APStats graders after a statistics talk. Christine Franklin, Daren Starnes, Allan Rossman, & Roxy Peck are all stats ed celebrities. And I got to have a drink with Beth Chance at a Wiley event! I was in #fangirl heaven.

My biggest problem with a conference (and why I prefer workshops or webinars) is that I have too many takeaways. A good problem to have, I guess. Except that I feel like I end up not doing any of them. With a single workshop / webinar, I can find a gem to use in my classes immediately without being overwhelmed.

I realize I’m skirting the second bullet point of the prompt, but I can’t pin down one valuable experience. Talks I had with Tammi Marshall, Beth Powell, Cindy Anfinson, Mark Clark, Beth Chance… were all highlights from AMAYTC 2018. Chatting with people from other campuses to see how they were planning to address AB705 was pretty awesome and something I wish happened more often.

Our department has experimented with lots of options for sharing and ‘closing the loop’ on professional development that we send out faculty to:

  • Presentations at department meetings:
  • AMATYCcrow
    Flying crow at AMATYC 2018.

    Separate course-specific meetings where participants share what they learned over lunch

  • Blog posts: (not actually about a conference, but I haven’t posted the one for AMATYC 2018 yet)

Prompt #1: I wish I had known…

This blog post is part of the #CCCWrite Reflective Writing Club. I signed up because I will do just about anything that @katiepala asks me to do, even things that I thoroughly dislike (reflection and writing, for example) because I usually end up learning something along the way. If you want to suffer through this with me, click here.

This particular prompt almost had me turn tail and run from the get-go. When Katie first mentioned this to me, I’m pretty sure my exact words were, “As long as it isn’t too fluffy.” I was hopeful that the “reflective” in the name of the writing club just meant thinking of ways to improve or revise something I did in class, not actually reflecting. Clearly I was in denial about what I signed up for.

I can’t see how you would have ended up here without knowing the prompt, but here it is: “Identify a time in your past and think critically about differences between then and now. How have you changed? What do you know now that you wish you had known then about yourself, your profession, other people, technology, or life in general?”

Are you kidding me? I’m not one for introspection or retrospection, instead choosing to focus on things I can change and improve around me. I only suffer through this because I enjoyed seeing the blog posts written by my colleagues who are capable of emotions and to read theirs without posting my own seems super creepy. #lurkerstatus

I’ve been rolling this around in my head since I saw the prompt a few days ago. As an educator, I wouldn’t say there’s much I wish I had known when I started. Not that I was an excellent instructor then or that I am one now, but there’s a ton I have learned along the way from fumbling through it all. Every mistake and misstep was a learning opportunity that I wouldn’t dare begrudge myself. Although I do wish I had known about the treasure trove that Twitter is for teaching resources, especially #MTBoS!

In an effort to transcend #lurkerstatus and actually share something #fluffy, I wish that past-me knew that trying and failing is better than not trying at all. Throughout my young adult life, I opted to do the bare minimum in most things I was part of – mostly out of the fear that if I were to REALLY try and put my full effort in, I might REALLY fail. It wasn’t until years later when I was at a talk by Jo Boaler that I realized that I had had a crippling fixed mindset. Having excelled academically without ever having to try, I didn’t want to make an effort and risk not doing well – that would mean I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was! If I honestly look back at high school and college, that statement could be applied to most things I did, even extra-curricular crap like Academic Decathlon and soccer. Ugh. Past-me was the worst. Maybe past-me needed to hear you’re not that damned smart or no one cares if you ask for help or apathy isn’t cool or all of the above. It’s still scary to put myself out there and risk failure, but that’s what you have to do if you want to grow as an individual – which is what I’m telling myself about this blog post.