Conference Reflection–Through the Eyes of an Interloper


Through the Eyes of an Interloper

by Sukanya Kemp, University of Akron

It all started innocently enough. I had invited my colleague Michelle Byrne to an economics conference and here she was bearing an invitation to TYCA, the Two Year College Teachers of English Association. As the days to the conference grew closer, the butterflies in my stomach went into overdrive. These were going to be some of the best English professors and scholars of the Midwest and here I am, a puny little economist, trying hard to impress everyone that my presence there was not a typographical error on the invitee list.

So what happened? Well, at the end of the conference, I felt like a conquering hero. The people at TYCA made me feel so welcome, that not for a moment did I think of myself as a swine among pearls. Okay, maybe just a little before my presentation. Michelle Byrne, Brian Harrell and myself presented on “Breaking down the 4th wall: Social Media in the Classroom”.

I brought my experiences of teaching economics with social media to the audience, who seemed to find the idea quite interesting. There were a lot of questions regarding the efficacy of using social media to teach students who were already masters of that universe. I think we discussed and argued our point of view well, emphasizing the need to reach out to students in their own world while at the same time maintaining the rigor and challenge of a classroom course.

I attended a number of sessions on variety of topics ranging from the challenges of teaching English literature to the use of netiquette in online classes. It was a pedagogical smorgasbord. Never for a moment did I feel like an interloper or outsider as I participated in conversations regarding student welfare, enrollment and retention and just plain holding their attention. Teaching economics is no piece of cake, but I came away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of teaching English to unwilling ears and minds. Next year? I am there!!

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