Not only do they want me to lecture next spring, but they want me to do TWO sections! WOOT.
Does that count as a promotion?
(I say yes.)
I’m so lucky to have a job that brings me happiness. I know it’s not a permanent one (unfortunately), but to be paid to do something that doesn’t even feel like work is freaking awesome. The summer session of stats is over this Thursday. Now that I’ve (almost) finished teaching three sessions of intro stats, I think I’ve figured out the main reasons why I love this job so much.
The obvious one: I love statistics.
I think I kind of always have, I just didn’t know it. When I started college back in the stone age in 2006, I went into psychology not because I didn’t know what major to pick and that’s kind of the “default” one, but because I was actually interested in methods of quantifying intelligence. After I took the class I’m teaching now (STAT 251), I kind of changed my mind and became interested in psychological testing in general. Then it was recommended that I take MORE stats classes in order to solidify my chances to get into a psychometrics program…and, well, we all see where that’s led. I just really, really like stats.
I’m imparting knowledge.
This is a totally cliché reason, I know, but it’s a reason nonetheless. There’s something very satisfying about imparting knowledge to people. It’s like giving them power. I think it’s even more satisfying in the case of statistics because a lot of peoples’ visceral reaction to a stats class is either “god, this is going to be so BORING” or “god, this is going to be so HARD” or a combination of the two. I love showing (or at least trying to show) that stats can be both fun and fairly easy if you get a solid understanding of what you’re actually doing when you do stats.
It’s intro statistics…
Intro classes are broad as hell. A lot of time, in my opinion, they exist to kind of help “weed out” people from certain majors before getting more in depth with the history/materials of whatever the major is (or to put it in a less sinister-sounding phrasing: they’re “survey” classes used to give people a general sweeping idea of what the major entails before they fully engage in it).
STAT 251 is like that too, but there’s actually kind of an extra bonus to that. Since it’s a broad intro class and we have to cover a lot of stuff, we really can only touch on the stuff that’s really, really important. That really, really important stuff is actually the really, really useful stuff—it’s the statistics that non-statisticians use. It’s the stuff that biologists use. It’s the stuff that advertisers use. It’s the stuff that a person working for a big business uses. It’s “hey, you only gonna take one stats class ever? Here’s the stuff that will get you through most of your life.” Because you WILL use something from this class at LEAST once. I’m definitely not saying that more “complex” stats aren’t important…I’m just saying that this is the stuff that even those people who stand at the entrance of a stats class with their fingers in an “X” and yelling “No…nooooooooo!” will probably use. And that’s cool.
…and almost everyone has to take it.
You really get a mix of ability/familiarity with the material in an intro class, I think. In the case of stats, some people are coming right out of high school and have taken AP stats. Others have never heard the term “median.” Both this semester and last semester I had students come up to me who said something to the effect of, “I was terrified to take stats because I knew nothing about it and people always said it was hard (or “I hated AP Stats!). But this class was actually really cool and I’ll definitely be using this stuff in [insert major here].” Seriously. I think one person said they even want to go for a stats minor. That produces so much freaking glee you don’t even know, and that’s actually probably the biggest reason why I like teaching intro so much: you get to expose people to stuff they’ve never seen, and in doing so, there’s always the chance that you’ll spark an interest or fascination (Tests and Measurements did that for me, holy hell). Every time a student tells me they like the material or that they really got something out of the class I just want to jump up and down and hug them. But I don’t. Because then I would get fired for being inappropriate.
I have yet to dread going to work. Even dragging my unwilling body out of bed at 6 AM, my mind’s like, “ooh, get up you lazy fool! Today you get to teach them REGRESSION!” I think that’s the reason, too, why I don’t exhibit any of my usual public speaking anxiety when I’m teaching: I just love stats and I love talking about stats and it’s a really casual thing for me rather than being something I have to prepare for or rehearse 4,000 times. Like…I would teach for free simply because it makes me so freaking happy (but don’t tell anyone that, I need money to keep going to school, haha).
It’s teachin’ time!
These next two weeks are going to be insane, though. Teaching, finishing calc, and doing the data analysis stuff. But calc’s over in two weeks and then I have no more classes until fall.
I anticipate a weekend of solid Minecrafting once these two weeks are over.
TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY.
FIRST: my mom got a job, my mom got a job!! Here at the U of I! Now she can leave the insanity of Tucson and come back to the place she calls home. SUPER HAPPY ABOUT THAT.
SECOND: I got a job, too! In addition to teaching in the second half of summer, I’ll be working as a data analyst for the College of Ag from May through July. Now I can finally get some real experience with real data (and lots of it!).
Better brush up on my SAS.
So I’m almost done grading all the assignments/tests for my stats class.
I think things went pretty well this semester, especially considering that I had about five days’ notice that I’d be teaching AT ALL. I think the best part of all of this, though, is the fact that I overcame my fear of public speaking. Seriously, when I had to present my thesis, which was just in front of four people, I really really had to practice a lot beforehand and, once the day came, I had to concentrate to not throw up/not stutter/not run off in fear.
After the first two or three lectures this semester, however, it was the most natural thing ever for me. I love the fact that my passion for stats and my passion for teaching others how to do stats totally eclipsed my fear of public speaking.
That’s a good feeling, my friends.
One thing I think should change, though, is that I really think that STAT 251 needs to be treated like a science class. That is, I think it needs to be bumped up to 4 credits and given a lab. Statistics is like the hard sciences in that it really needs to be applied to be learned. I think a lab—a day where the whole class would go to a computer lab and given an assignment or something to do using SPSS or Minitab or whatnot—would really benefit students.
That’s kind of what PSYC 218 is, actually, but obviously a lot of students who aren’t in psychology won’t be taking 218.
Just a thought. I know I have no control over that, but that’s what I’d change about this class.
Now I’m going to go screw around. BECAUSE I CAN!
Today was a very good day, due in no small part to two very enthusiastic stats students. I spent a total of about 6 hours between them talking about stats and HOW FREAKING COOL all these analyses get once you actually apply them to stuff you’re interested in.
That is all I feel like saying. Today was a very good day.
Why in the hell was I not trained with these awesome videos?
I never knew the hidden sexual potential of that job.
I have such an urge to remix this.
Oh Wendy’s. You have achieved a whole new level of cool.
WOO THEY WANT ME BACK!
I’m going to get to teach again next semester!
I might get the TH class or I might get one of the MWF classes, but I don’t know yet. But YAY!
Now comes the incredibly difficult task of NOT creating a schedule for next semester until I know when I’m teaching.
Gonna go spaz now.