Travel Grant 2014-15: Francisco Ramos

Francisco Ramos, Elementary & Secondary Education

The 12th Annual Teaching Professor Conference
May 29-31, 2015
Atlanta, GA

Relevance of the Event for Applicant's Teaching and LMU Community, the Applicant's Involvement in the Event, and Expected Learning as Outcome

The Annual Teaching Professor Conference's goal is to present attendees with learning opportunities designed to enrich their teaching practices.

This annual conference revolves around seven main topics: Instructional Design, Activities that Engage Students, Teaching Specific Types of Students, Instructional Vitality: Ways to Keep Teaching Fresh and Invigorated, Teaching and Learning with Technology, Creating Climates for Learning and Faculty Development. Presentations within each of these areas offer an extraordinary opportunity to find out what colleagues in other disciplines, universities and states are doing to improve their teaching routines and their relationships with students. Attending these sessions has allowed me to learn new ideas to help improve my relationship with my students, as well as improve my students' learning experiences, that I can share with my LMU colleagues upon my return.

Travel Report

I was able to attend various presentations related to the third, fifth and seventh categories above, as well as the three plenaries on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Despite the uneven quality of some of the sessions, I gained important knowledge on strategies to deal with conflictive students, such as to avoid direct confrontations with them, yet follow up with quick individual meetings focusing on behaviors instead of personalities; learn some cognitive psychology resources to better draft questionnaires, avoiding the use of words that can create bias and impact the outcomes; how to formulate engaging questions to improve students' responses while flipping classrooms; innovative ways to engage younger students and increase their participation in class through microblogging; finally, a few names of authors that have investigated the preferred learning modalities of extroverted and introverted students.

Magna Publications, the organizer of the Conference, claims on its website that the Teaching Professor Conference is about "just proven ideas and new techniques shared by faculty who are teaching in the college classroom every day." In keeping its focus on the practical component of teaching instead of "warm fuzzies," "arcane academic theories," or "stuffy 'my brain is bigger than your brain' presentations," the Conference seems to attempt to differentiate itself from AERA. In view of the number of attendees this year, more than 1,000 according to its estimates, Magna seems to have successfully accomplished their goal. Yet, the registration fee of nearly $600, significantly higher than AERA or other, similar teaching conferences, seems a little excessive for a conference of these characteristics.