Before ACPA even began, I was thinking critically about what kind of session I really wanted to attend. Reading the Unconventional Leadership blog, considering Eric Stoller‘s prompts about radical practitioners, and conversing with several colleagues about what makes a worthwhile presentation. I really want to believe that as student affairs educators, we know how to educate. After all, that’s the argument I make when I am trying to validate that this is indeed a profession – I have a master’s degree – and I have a basic understanding of how college students learn. Somehow we (yes, I am implicating myself here – guilty as charged) forget all of that when we step to the front of the room. Perhaps it is because we are better one on one and the fear of being expected to be the expert pushes us into an anxiety ridden need to write everything down. Maybe this is our first presentation at a conference and we really don’t know better. Could be we have some ego and in order to get all the information across (and it’s the information that is most important), we have to talk at the audience the whole time. In fact – we even acknowledge it (guilty again); “I know that this isn’t the best method, but I’m going to do it anyway.” That exact sentiment is why I stopped pursuing secondary education as an undergraduate. I was tired of being lectured at with the information that lecturing is the least effective means of learning. That is ego at it’s best and ignores the most important reason we are together. We are here to learn and when that is one sided, we are missing a great opportunity. All of this swirling in my head made me want to be on the ACPA conference planning team, if only so that I could say, “hey, that is going to be another talking head” and “that person just wants to talk about a book they read in graduate school.” There are amazing folks in our field who wrote those books, who have long-term perspective about their work. Not to say that those right out of graduate school (or still in it) don’t have a lot to offer, because I think they are amazing. But I think we can ask more of them. Push them, and all of us, to be better at this. We KNOW how to educate and help each other learn. So let’s drop our egos and really get our hands dirty learning together.
Pseudo-rant over…back to ACPA. I sought out sessions at convention for a number of reasons. As several of my previous posts indicate, my inner octopus is wrangling how I walk in this world as a woman, so some of the sessions I attended were spurred by a desire to connect with women. Others were people who I have been engaged by in the past and wanted to learn more from. Others were Tweeps I wanted to meet and learn from in person. Others wrote an interesting enough abstract that I was persuaded they were going to give me an active learning experience. Most turned out successful. One or two, not so much. I heard panels of strong women talking about lifting one another up (woot! #wlsalt!), engaged in how values are communicated on my campus (drawing in session), and heard research turned into video. Lots of different learning and all engaged me. I am grateful I was able to be intentional about my conference sessions. I’m sad I had to choose sometimes as I missed (what I assume from Twitter quotes) some great sessions. And now I’m struggling on how to follow up and try to get materials and learning from those sessions – because if they really were that great, the learning was in the story – the live presentation, and that isn’t on a PowerPoint they can send me. Maybe we need to start video-taping everything, TEDtalks style. I’d watch that. See more of the discourse around this conversation in the comments of Eric Stoller’s Inside Higher Ed post: “Conference Sessions Do Not Have to Suck.” You’ll see my comments and what other folks in the field are feeling about this topic there. In the meantime, I want to share how I can the learning that happened in person at the sessions I attended. I used storify.com to create a “story” of the tweets from the Unconventional Leadership session by Patrick Love and Tony Doody from Rutgers. I tried to “post” it into this post, but storify and wordpress disagree about the width of that content and it gets cut off. So you’ll just have to open it in a new link. Here it is.
I am hoping to somehow storify some of the other sessions I attended. Unfortunately, some of them were in the depths of the conference center with no internet (and thus, no tweeting). You can add text to storify, so I’ll play around with it and add my notes, maybe?
How are other people engaging in learning post-conference? How did you choose your sessions? How will you share that learning with others? Do you intend to share only at your institution or with the broader student affairs audience? On twitter?
I’m an information hoarder, and proud of it (input strength). Share!
keep on learning…ekt