Virtual Conference on Soft Skills – July 3 through July 31

Call for Presenters

The community of math teachers that read and write blogs is an amazing resource.  We share lesson plans, techniques, philosophies, exams, and project ideas.  This conference focuses specifically on the soft skills we need to be effective teachers.  Not the killer worksheets, or the progressive grading systems, but on the skills of raising children.  This conference is a great opportunity for us to share the way we bring out the shy kids in our classes, handle teasing, build confidence, create opportunities for leadership, and acknowledge the beauty and importance of the blossoming lives for which we are responsible.  I hope you’ll join us by making your own presentation and placing yourself in the schedule below.  Register now for zero dollars!

Call for Presenters

Program

Keep checking back to see this program fill out with more presenters!

Pre-conference Party:

 The Soft Mutiny at Work In Pencil Dan Goldner Dan describes his experience with full-class shutdowns, and a technique for getting the crew back to the sails. Finding Motivation – The Mathematics RPG at lim joe $\rightarrow \infty$ Joe Joe describes a game he developed to motivate specific classroom behaviors in a group of kids for which nothing else worked.

July 3 keynote speaker: Dan Meyer

 Math: The Angry, Injured Wolverine at dy/dan Dan Meyer Math can seem like it’s full of wrong answers and mistakes.  Dan presents a method for framing a question as an exploration with no wrong answers to relieve the pressure students feel to get it right.  Viewed as an investigation, math lets us find its secret patterns one question at a time – and we get as many questions as we want. Remediation After Assessment at Maximizing Learning Amber Caldwell Reviewing or “going over” tests after they’ve been given can be difficult to handle in an efficient and helpful way.  Amber describes a way to have students help each other after an assessment that is effective not only after the test but before the test, and gives students opportunities for responsibility and empowerment to boot! The 4 Core Values in My Classroom at Tales from the Chalkline Anne Schwartz Anne gives an overview of the fundamental values upon which she teaches: trust, responsibility, caring, and respect.

July 10: Kate Nowak

 So Bad at f(t) Kate Nowak Kate gives us a passionate reminder that the kids who aren’t just going along with school are awesome too.  She’s doing a great job in her classroom and in this presentation she shares a little of the techniques (from the general all the way down to several specific phrases she uses) that set her classroom culture and communicate her respect. “… Challenge them to be a better version of themselves. They’re not afraid of the power of your grading pen. They need a reason better than coercion. It’s worth it. They are worth it. They are the hope for the future.” -Kate Nowak The Sit-Stand Paradox and Defective Girls at MathEd.net Raymond Johnson Raymond encourages us to acknowledge the physical and physiological realities of being at school all day and to stop acting like our last period should run the same as our first.  He also makes some bold generalizations about girls and boys in school that I am not ready to categorically support or contradict!

July 17: Riley Lark

 Specifying Behavior with Explicit Roles at Point of Inflection Riley Lark Riley describes a set of roles that can help students learn how to participate actively in a lesson, discussion, and in any group-based activity in their whole life! The Other Half of the Battle at Always Formative Jason Buell Jason describes two techniques that acknowledge the positive behavior he wants to see in his classroom: “Positive Deviants” and “Don’t Break The Chain.”  Both techniques acknowledge that being a “good student” is something that needs to be learned… and so it needs to be taught! Building Confidence at Educating Grace Grace Chen Grace discusses the importance of being honest and specific, two vital qualities of feedback.  Research shows that kids who receive empty (dishonest, unspecific) praise are more likely to cheat and less likely to embrace challenges, according to Grace, so please be careful with what you say! Despairing vs. Working: Learning Classroom Management and Learning Math at Research in Practice Ben Blumsmith Ben eloquently and passionately describes the damage that fear and shame can play in the learning process.  A lot of attention gets paid to the role of fear in learning math, but Ben shows how fear can affect our learning in other areas, specifically classroom management.  He gives some advice for breaking the cycle, focusing our efforts, and moving out of despair and in to progress. Dr. Softskills or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Teaching at Sarcasymptote sarcasymptote Our students are people, and connecting with them, earning their trust, takes treating them like people.  There are techniques and strategies that can guide our relationships with them, but at some fundamental level we have to get to know them by allowing them to express themselves, and responding with ourselves.  After all, we can’t expect anyone to listen to us if we don’t listen to them.

July 24: Sam Shah

 Not all of us have Soft Skills at Continuous Everywhere but Differentiable Nowhere Sam Shah Sam admits to a lack of soft skills, but reminds us that its unreasonable to expect to be perfect with skills so difficult.  He also points out that there are concrete, learnable things that teachers can do to improve in this area, even if they feel like they’re no good. Still, at the foundation of Sam’s teaching is respect: respect for the students and the time they put into their work and into the class.  Sam provides one concrete example we can emulate after we fail that shows the students we are sorry, that we respect them and their time, and that we’re trying our best too.  Side benefit not mentioned in Sam’s article: the kids get a role model for graceful recovery from mistakes! Creating a Culture of Questions at Questions? David Cox David stresses the importance of transparency, trust, and community in a classroom.  A big part of learning is in the questions you ask, not just the answers you get. Why Go To Class? at Sine Of The Times Dave L Dave writes about a few ways that he keeps his class enjoyable, even for students who “hate math.”

July 31: Shawn Cornally

 The Softest Skill at Think Thank Thunk Shawn Cornally Shawn talks about the importance (and power) of letting students know that we care about them and their learning.  He gives a list of simple things we can do to communicate our interest – and gives an anecdote that powerfully illustrates that, unless we do explicitly communicate that we care, students may not realize it! “We will probably argue until the Internet explodes about grading philosophy and how to word some stupid prompt, but none of that matters, if the kids don’t believe you’re there for the right reasons.” Lessons from Thumper at josh g.’s notes joshg A few quick tips from joshg to help create the classroom culture you want.

Call for Presenters

25 thoughts on “Soft Skills Convention Center”

1. I’m liking this, a lot! I hope I can come up with a contribution.