Getting Ready for #AERA14

So I just received a flight reminder for my trip to #AERA14.  Really, a reminder to get ahead in my coursework, decide what to pack, and yelp the best places to eat and drink in Philly. I’m accustomed to going to conference for professional development and networking. I’ve always enjoyed my experiences as a practitioner in student affairs and admissions. Now, transitioned into a PhD program and I’ll be attending AERA for the first time. I’ve heard different things about the conference and how it can be overwhelming for first-timers, especially graduate students. Regardless, I look forward to finding out for myself what an academic conference is like with 13,000 of my closest colleagues.

The email reminder also led me to check my personal schedule. When the conference sessions posted, I scanned through them looking at ones that met my research interests, commitment to social justice, and addressed admissions and enrollment management issues. When I was done searching the portal I had 2-3 options for each time slot. Today, I started looking at the sessions I would most likely attend. I’ve narrowed my itinerary down a bit and I wanted to share the five must-attend sessions for me (listed chronologically). Hopefully, I’ll see some of you at these sessions.

Thurs, April 3, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Convention Center, Terrace Level, Terrace I
So, the first one is listed as a “presidential session,” not sure what that means, but I’ll make sure to look prestigious and wear my favorite ascot and houndstooth jacket. But seriously, I’m excited to attend this session as it deals with my passion for improving access and success in higher education. I’m also interested in hearing about the latest innovations in research and practice and how my research aligns or can build on what is being shared.

Fri, April 4, 10:30am to 3:30pm, Off-Site (Bus pick-up at Marriott Hotel)
This session caught my eye months ago. It is one sponsored by the Social Justice Action Committee exploring school closures, urban education reform policies, and community-partnered educational initiatives. More than what the portal describes, this session is pretty dynamic not only providing a traditional panel of researchers, but contextualizing the educational issues in Philadelphia by allowing participants to interact with students, teachers, and administrators at two different school sites. The research presented challenges educational researchers to refocus attention on the communities that have been marginalized by traditional market-driven school reform strategies and practices. The session is coordinated by Temple University’s College of Education and includes visiting two community sites, lunch at the College, and tour of the city as participants travel to and from the Marriott Hotel.

Fri, April 4, 2:15 to 3:45pm, Convention Center, 100 Level, 104A

This session is threaded by a common theoretical perspective, critical race theory in education. We address methodological strategies for conducting visual analyses of race, racism and social inequities. Authors will present three critical race visual methodologies; visual microaggressions, Critical Race Spatial Analysis (CRSA) and Interactive Digital Fotonovela (IDF). The discussant will engage an interactive discussion on educational implications for educational research, policy and praxis for documenting visual racism.

I added the session description to this one, to provide details on what critical race visual methodologies means. It’s a must attend session for me because of the focus on innovative methodology, critical race theory, and microaggressions. Much of my research has revolved around racial microaggressions and I’ve wanted to learn about innovative scholarship that uses spatial analysis and interactive visual methodologies. We will see how I make it from an off-site session to one at the convention center.

Sun, April 6, 8:15 to 9:45am, Convention Center, 200 Level, 202A
Beyond attending the conference, I plan to recap the latest and greatest research in college admissions with the folks at #AdmissionsLive. When I looked at the schedule, this was a session I planned to highlight. As a former admissions officer for a selective college, I am interested in how this research improves practice and provides more opportunity for under-served students to attend selective institution by improving practitioners. Also, I am not as familiar with cognitive repairs scholarship and hope to gain some insight. The session also promises to “conclude with an agenda for admissions reform based on this work,” so I’m interested in how this reform agenda intersects with mine.

Sun, April 6, 12:25 to 1:55pm, Convention Center, 100 Level, 114
This one is a heavy hitter. To this point, I’ve primarily focused on what is being presented, rather than who is presenting. Not only does the session revolve around issues of social justice, but provides the insight of six distinguished scholars. Moderated by Dr. Shaun Harper I look forward to hearing the panel’s remarks on our struggle to achieve racial justice and what challenges are ahead for emerging scholars like myself.

As a bonus, I’ve add two Mentoring/Networking sessions I plan to attending:

  1. Division J Fireside Chat Beyond Academia: Reaching a Broader Audience
    Sat, April 5, 10:35am to 12:05pm, Convention Center, 100 Level, 112B
  2. University of Southern California Rossier School of Education Reception
    Fri, April 4, 6:00 to 8:00pm, Marriott, Fourth Level, Franklin 8

Let me know what you think of my five must-attend sessions. Leave a comment and share what sessions you plan to attending. Look forward to connecting in Philly!

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