Conferences & Conventions: Start Your NISOD 2008 Engines!

20 May

So, next week is the annual National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development conference in Austin. (You can download a PDF of the program here.) Special thanks are due to our work study Carmen Rangel who designed a 6×9 postcard to promote the session Grace and I will be presenting at on Tuesday, May 27, about our publishing operation. (If you click on the thumbnail at the top of this post you can see a larger version of front of it.) This makes the fourth year in a row I’ve attended and I have to admit that I always look forward to it.

Starting back when I was in grad school and then when I was adjuncting I made the obligatory rounds of academic conferences in an effort to “network” but I found most of those experiences to be pretty uninspiring. People who already had teaching jobs didn’t have much sympathy for those who didn’t and most of the sessions consisted of people presenting on such specialized topics—17th century political pamphlets about left-handed members of Parliament—that maybe six people in the country could have had any genuine interest in them. Plus, most of the questions you ‘d hear at the end of any given session were typical grad school grandstanding: asking a question so everyone else could know just how smart you were, especially if you could trip up the suddenly sad sack presenter who’d been slaving for months to get everything just right.

On the other hand, the NISOD conference—which always has a good mix of faculty and administrators—is a much less pretentious affair as you get people from around the country (and outside of it as well) presenting their best practices relating to pedagogy, curriculum, administration, and the like. Instead of everyone trying to act oh so smart you have a collection of folks who just want to talk about what they’re doing, what’s working, what’s not, and let everyone else take what they can use and let the rest go by.

This year TSTC Publishing will have its own booth in the exhibit hall featuring a backdrop display designed by our own Grace Arsiaga. We’ll be showing off copies of our current titles—in particular the math books and CDs by Dr. Hossein Pezeshki, Diana Gafford, and Dr. Mike Hosseinpour from TSTC Harlingen plus Dr. Otto Wilke and Aprilsue Grulick of TSTC Waco—along with the long rumored but seldom seen (until now) new freshman orientation textbook designed specifically for technical college students: Taking Charge: Your Education, Your Career, Your Life by Karen Mitchell Smith. And, as always, we’ll have plenty of diet and regular Dr Peppers to give away courtesy of Dr Pepper Bottling of Waco. (As an extra bonus for the TSTC attendees from around the System, we’ve made up NISOD survival bags that include—thanks to many different departments at TSTC Waco—bottled water, pain relievers, candy bars, cheese crackers, pens, note pads, and much much more.)

In addition to our session on Tuesday afternoon—where, in particular, we’ll be differentiating ourselves from the new breed of POD printers who go to great pains in attempting to present themselves as POD publishers—other Texas State Technical College presentations include:

The Right to Privilege
Monday, May 26, 10:00-11:00 a.m., Room 9A, Level 3

This is a hands-on workshop aimed at exploring the tough topic of racial, economic, and national privilege. It addresses ways to create awareness of cultural diversity and establishes a framework for creating culturally competent students and employees.

Jason Nicholas, Information Computer Technology Instructor, Texas State Technical College West Texas

I Really Have to “Buy” My Grade?
Monday, May 26, 11:15-12:15 p.m., Room 8A, Level 3

Students in this class “apply to work” and are “hired” on the first day, receive performance reviews and “raises,” and can be “fired” for poor or non-performance. They get “paid” every two weeks by check; and, at the end of the semester, they get to “buy” their grades. Come see how this scenario-based class helps students understand and connect the importance of essential work skills to success in and out of the classroom.

Brian Kight, Faculty Development Coordinator, Texas State Technical College West Texas

College Algebra Activities that Work: The Pezeshki Method
Monday, May 26, 1:30-2:30 p.m., Room 13B, Level 4

This session will identify and explain a variety of activities that positively impact student achievement in College Algebra classes—from concept checks to a concentrated pre-Algebra course designed to overcome student fears of mathematical coursework. These successful activities are part of the Pezeshki Method of math instruction.

Dr. Hossein Pezeshki, Math/Physics Department, Texas State Technical College Harlingen

Retention: Ideas for Retaining the Academically Challenged
Monday, May 26, 2:45-3:45, Room 5A, Level 3

This presentation will describe how we are retaining students who are academically challenged, and address the issue of retaining students who have limited success in academic areas, yet are allowed to enroll in technical programs. A pilot program identifies one way of retaining these students and motivating them to be academically successful.

Dana McElroy and Henry Ortega, Instructors, Texas State Technical College West Texas

Home-Grown E-Portfolio
Monday, May 26, 4:00-5:00 p.m., Room 4A, Level 3

TSTC Harlingen developed an in-house e-portfolio to showcase critical thinking knowledge and skills in a student-success course. Participants will view examples of student-produced e-portfolios, learn about the construction of a “home-grown” e-portfolio, and receive resources for assignments and rubrics for assessment. This e-portfolio integrates technology with student learning.

Richard Kirk, Director, Student Success, Texas State Technical College Harlingen; and Juan Garcia, Division Director, Computer Systems, Texas State Technical College Harlingen

Radical Thinking! Unconventional Strategies! Bizarre Solutions! “RUB” Initiative for Organizational Change
Tuesday, May 27th, 10-11 a.m., Room 17B, Level 4

The time had come to loosen up and ventilate our organization! In order for us to unleash energy and creativity, we needed to decrease the disconnect between the transformational style we espoused and the conventional way we behaved. Join us in taking a quantum leap to a trust-driven leadership model, and, in the process, learn how to move toward becoming an innovative “cool school” for students to attend and for colleagues to work.

Dr. Lucy McGregor, Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives; and Dr. Bill Segura, Chancellor, Texas State Technical College System

This Ain’t Your Momma’s Class: Learning Environment for the Next Generation
Tuesday, May 27th, 2:45-3:45 p.m., Room 16B, Level 4

Join us in an active session grounded in the belief that by merging students’ eLearning and eSocial environments we can create a learning experience that will immerse, enhance, and engage tomorrow’s learner. “Can we teach traditional students in traditional manners?” Our response is “We know we can!” The bigger question is “should we?”

Chris Gibson, Associate Vice President, Texas State Technical College West Texas; and William Thompson, Vice President for Student Learning, Texas State Technical College West Texas

Grace and I are already coordinating our schedules to cover the booth during the hours the exhibit hall is open while attending as many sessions as possible, especially to show solidarity with our TSTC compatriots. As always, I figure it will be interesting, exhausting, full of unexpected moments and surprising conversations.


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