These past weeks with Professor Erica Walker at Teachers College have been even more rewarding than I could have imagined. Professor Walker and I have still been working on preparing for her to go on sabbatical this upcoming semester, which has included organizing her office and all of its contents. It has been amazing to see all of Professor Walker’s work as a professor and researcher throughout the years. One of the things that probably was the most interesting to me was finding the original data collected from fifth-grade students about what they think learning is. These data were used for handouts for an education course Professor Walker taught, and I thought it was almost like taking a look at behind the scenes to what really makes a class: the syllabus, handouts, assignments. It also made me see the intersection of Professor Walker’s roles and skills as a researcher and educator. We had great discussions about how much doing physical research can make you a stronger educator. I haven’t really considered this in the world of educating in non-higher education institutions; however, it can really help students see the applied side of the STEM fields. Being able to show students that we don’t just learn about hypotheticals and theories, but that those theories are applied to obtain more tangible results.
Professor Walker and I have also been working on preparing for her appearances at several conferences. Since Professor Walker has written two books, she has them featured at all of her appearances. I have been working on new advertisements for her to display and give out at each of them. I haven’t had much experience working with PhotoShop or publishing companies for ensuring advertisements layouts are approved, but that has been exactly what I have been doing for these projects. I have learned so much about working with design on the computer, which I can imagine would only help me create really great resources and materials for my future students. I’ve also been able to have a great deal of fun designing the postcards since I have always found marketing to be very interesting. In addition to preparing her book materials for her appearances, Professor Walker and I have been working on creating supplemental material to her lectures and presentations. We have been creating PowerPoints as visual references during her speeches for audiences. Once again, getting the opportunity to see the behind the scenes directions to big lectures and speeches has been great at giving me a sense of how much work there is that gets done, but also at the fact that it is possible to do!
This past week, Professor Walker’s Mathematics in Popular Culture course began, and I’m very excited to start sitting in on her class. Her syllabus really is amazing, and it was great to see how many students were there on the first day, ready for Professor Walker’s activity-packed class. Since it is a summer course, Professor Walker has tried to keep the class fun with different hands-on activities and plenty of opportunities for students to brush up on popular culture, mainly through movies and media snippets. I’m really looking forward to working with Professor Walker in these next couple of weeks.