November 5 Day 242: Just What I Needed

Somedays make everything seem worthwhile. I was fortunate that today was one of those days. I had the opportunity to think mathematical thoughts, to connect with former students, to do good work with good people, and to be recognized for my efforts.

My 7 am PST Zoom meeting went off without a hitch because I have a great co-chair. He picked up the pieces that I had dropped earlier in the week and ran a smooth and productive meeting. We have identified some immediate goals, assigned some tasks, and set some deadlines. We might even have selected a catchy name, MAA’s AIMS Taskforce (for Advancing Inclusion In the Mathematical Sciences). This taskforce is exactly on task!

The rest of the morning was about a regularly scheduled meeting titled “Working Together: Math/Writing/General Support.” This time frequently gets usurped by reports, teaching prep, grading, administrivia, or life. But when it happens, it is a zoom highlight of my week. Plus we managed to make some progress on our mathematical questions.

I spent part of the afternoon working with a senior math student on his capstone project. Again, it was a wonderful feeling to stretch mathematical muscles in partnership with another human being.

Then I found the UW Innovators Among Us post in which I was featured. Apparently published on October 22, I only found it today. The initial interview occurred in February 2020 and was to focus on my “novel” use of Zoom in the classroom to create access for my students. The COVID shutdown hit before publication and nothing I was doing remained novel. In fact it now has a name—hyflex teaching. Rather than tossing the preliminary work, the piece was revamped to focus on remote assessment instead. Because that post features a link to this blog, there is the potential for an infinite internet loop.

After office hours, we had a training session for UW Tacoma’s virtual Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival. To be held in Gather on November 14, the virtual space is designed to look like the location on campus that we would be in if the festival were held in person. Participants will wander between activity tables, engaging in mathematical thinking, working with facilitators, and earning raffle tickets. There were a dozen volunteers testing the space, playing games, and enjoying the Zoom-free interaction. I know the Festival will be a great success.

After training was complete, I took the math majors on a tour of other campus locations I created in Gather. They were suitably impressed by my third floor office suite but overjoyed to see the Teaching and Learning Center.

The Chihuly Room, the stairs down, and the Writing Center side of the TLC.
The Quantitative Center, the seminar room, and professional staff offices.

I taught most of these students as juniors last Autumn in the “Math Major Transition” course. They formed a tight community and spent hours every day in the TLC supporting each other and working together. I think I saw tears. They immediately asked to use the space to study together virtually. Their excitement gave me energy at the end of a long day and made me feel like I really made a difference.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

One thought on “November 5 Day 242: Just What I Needed

  1. I just love this! Yes- these days may be rare but it’s so important to take note of them and to treasure them. Thanks for the great reminders that the work we do does make a difference!

    Liked by 1 person

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