Blog Post

Wrap-Up of the Fall 2012 Conference Season

Note: This post got lost in e-land and is just now making its way to the Internet.

As the end of this semester approaches, I have decided that I need to take a few moments to just get some ideas and thoughts out of my mind from the conferences that I have attended this fall.  Here is a short wrap-up of some of the events that I have attended this semester.

This semester I presented at the Michigan Center for Student Success Summit.  My biggest takeaway from this conference is the fact that other colleges are way ahead of my college in terms of their student success initiatives.  I want to look into creating a student success class that is linked with my college’s pre-algebra course.  I think the advantage to having it as a separate, but linked, course instead of simply weaving study skills into the pre-algebra course lies in the fact that it is easier to monitor that the teacher is actually teaching the study skills to the students.

I also presented at the MichMATYC Fall Conference.  The theme of the conference this year also seemed to be about student success.  My college has a new Everyday Math course and after attending this conference I am now even more convinced that we need to have an alternative pre-requisite for this course that involves Algebra, but just enough Algebra that students would then have the choice to either take our Everyday Math or Intermediate Algebra courses.  I recently told someone that not everyone needs to know how to factor a binomial, but if the person is in an Algebra class, I would expect the person to know how to do so because that’s what is taught in an Algebra course.

I also attended TedXDetroit this year.  This was definitely not what I expected.  There were a lot of cool speakers there, some time for networking, and time to just see some great and unique things in the TedXLabs.  The biggest takeaway from TedXDetroit for me was that I really need to define what innovative, creative, and critical thinking is for my students.  I always expect my students to be able to use their critical thinking and analyzing skills to solve application and word problems without actually showing them some skills for doing actually doing them.  I met some representatives from The Henry Ford at TedXDetroit and they told me about their curriculum called ‘On Innovation’ that I intend to use with my Everyday Math students next semester.

I also found out about the Alliance for Excellence and Online Education’s Fall Symposium.  This conference was interesting to me because it’s the first time I was made aware of the fact that there are actually like-minded people at my college.  Up until this point I had really thought that my college was a technology wasteland where old technology came to die.  I walked away from this conference that with the realization that it really is important to step back and look at what’s around you, get a new perspective, and see what’s actually there.  Yes, this was a highly sponsored conference, but I would recommend it if you are into technology and looking to hear about the latest trends and looking to see ‘what’s possible’.

I was also pulled away from my classroom to attend the AMATYC Conference in Jacksonville, FL.  AMATYC is near and dear to my heart, especially now since I am officially the Professional Development Coordinator and a member of Project ACCCESS.  As the Professional Development Coordinator my primary duties include hosting the AMATYC Webinar Series and serving as a liaison for any professional development needs that our members might need.  I am still learning the position, but I am very excited that I was able to step into a role where my skillset will be put to good use.  As a member of Project ACCCESS, I am officially in one of the greatest mentoring programs for new two-year college math instructors in their first three years of full-time teaching.  I have met a lot of great people so far and expect to learn a lot from them over the years to come.

To summarize, obviously I have been very busy this semester, not including organizing the Russian Mathematician fair that my students put on at the library, working on grants for supplemental instruction and service learning projects for next semester, serving on the Multicultural International Initiatives Committee at my college (hint: I’m organizing a Mathematics Film Series next), dealing with issues with on-campus iPad and technology use, and working with my department’s new Work-Study student.  Until next time… 🙂

By Jon Oaks

College Math Instructor. Tech Enthusiast. Visionary. Creative Genius. But above all, I enjoy what I do. That is why I am a teacher. Because I like to teach.

One Comment

  • Jerry Tuttle -

    Well done, Jon. I rarely see teachers summarize what they learned from conferences. Good luck in your new AMATYC role. Jerry

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