Tag Archives: podcast

Trauma-aware teaching: Listening to Karen Costa on the “tea for teaching” podcast

Today was the first time in half a year or so that I listened to a podcast (other than the Academic Imperfectionist, where I make sure to not miss an episode, and, occasionally, the Amazing If Squiggly Careers, which I also find super helpful in navigating my own squiggly career), and I will take that as a good sign of slowly adjusting to life in a new country and slowly starting to have the capacity to listen to things on my walks again, instead of just being happy about low-input time (well, except for the wave watching, of course!) to process all the new things around me.

The episode I listened to today was on trauma-aware pedagogy on one of my other favourite podcasts, tea for teaching, with guest Karen Costa, and it has given me so much to think about! (And, I actually just registered for a workshop on Climate Action Pedagogy she’s leading in August because she was just so inspiring and I want more of that!)

The conversation is centred around student disengagement, which many teachers report having noticed since the beginning of the politics, and three main questions around it: Why is it happening, what about other disengagement, and what can we do?

First to the why of student disengagement: It’s basically a survival response to all the stresses of the pandemic (and other stressors that are also present, like for example climate change!): Students focus on getting out of the figurative burning building rather than on whatever teaching we might think they should be engaging with inside that building. And this flight response influences students’ executive functions: their decision making, time management, concentration, … This is just a biological reaction that we need to be aware of, not much we can do about it. Although, yesterday I listened to an Academic Imperfectionist episode where she talks about how we can strap our anxieties into the passenger seat and keep on driving, and just pick dedicated times to actually confront the anxieties, so there are strategies that we, and students, could employ to stay more focussed on what we want to focus on. BUT! Student blaming is not the point, and it leads nicely to the second big theme:

Why do we always talk about student disengagement, not about faculty disengagement, or dean disengagement, or politics disengagement? We are more than two years into this pandemic, where are the strategies from deans, universities, governments to help us all deal with it in a constructive way?

So what can we do?

One super important message in this episode is to, no matter how much good you want to do for your students, not sacrifice yourself. Even though offering more flexibility is a great way to make life easier for students, it still needs to stay manageable and not lead to burnout; that would not serve the students, either. And just because some other teachers might be able to do more to accommodate students does not mean that you have to, too: everybody has different resources at their disposal and lives different lives. Being transparent to students about what you can do and where your boundaries are is really important. And transparency is also important in communicating “upwards”: This is what I would like to do, this is what I can do, this is what I need more resources for. We all do have choices of where we allocate time and money, and if we all communicate what we need, maybe “those up there” can and will take it into consideration more.

The perhaps most thought-provoking prompt in this episode for me was that this pandemic is a symptom of climate change, and we need to be prepared for what is to come: Things are very unlikely to become easier in the future, so how can I best prepare for what will be needed then?

For me personally, a lot of my work is currently focussed on creating environments in which students feel like they belong, and where they can concentrate on learning and are not distracted by stereotype threats, harassment, etc.. I believe that this is super important, but one aspect that I think I should focus on more than I’ve done so far is how those efforts would translate if we had to go back to virtual teaching, possibly on short notice. Would my workshop concepts still work, or can I figure out a virtual or hybrid version in parallel to the in-person ones we are currently planning? And in addition to thinking about obstacles to belonging (like harassment etc), can we strengthen belonging even in virtual settings? Of course there are strategies that I have employed over the last two years that focus on creating community online etc, but one aspect that I hadn’t really thought about was that belonging, in addition to feeling part of a peer group in the subject, also has the component of feeling connected to the content, the discipline, the books etc.. And I have definitely experienced that aspect myself: When I moved out of oceanography research almost 10 years ago, and lost the daily direct access to oceanographers in coffee rooms and at conferences, my #KitchenOceanography and #WaveWatching work became more important to me to keep my identity as oceanographer alive while I moved into academic development work. So I will be thinking more about how both #KitchenOceanography and #WaveWatching can be useful to not only connect disciplinary content to everyday experiences, but also to strengthen a sense of belonging with the discipline and identification with the subject. The often-repeated message of this episode, “small is all”, is a good motto to live by as I take on this new task!

So go, listen to the episode and let me know: what is your next small step?

P.S.: One thing that I’ve never done before and that feels slightly weird is feature specific scientists whose work I find inspiring. But since I wrote about the “tea for teaching” podcast episode just now, and when I wanted to tweet my blog post, came across the Twitter profile @teaforteaching, which, as far as I can see, is not related to the podcast at all, but belongs to Katie Bateman, and her research is the PERFECT continuation of the things I was pondering this morning, so here we go: check her out, her work is inspiring! She recently published on how playdough can help learn spatial skills in geoscience education (which I would put under the wide umbrella of #KitchenOceanography, but check it out: Bateman et al., 2022), and also about what we can learn from this pandemic for future disruptions (It’s not only about how individuals adapt, it’s also about what kind of support network they have / their caring responsibilities / …, stress levels are highest for people on non-permanent positions (surprise!), and different people need different kinds of support in terms of good learning management systems, support from academic developers, … And: the more time people have to prepare, the better. So universities should be as quick as possible, making decisions as early as possible, to give people security for their planning. Read more here: Bateman et al., 2022)

Bateman, K. M., Ham, J., Barshi, N., Tikoff, B., & Shipley, T. F. (2022). Scaffolding geology content and spatial skills with playdough modeling in the field and classroom. Journal of Geoscience Education, 1-15. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/epub/10.1080/10899995.2022.2071082

Bateman, K. M., Altermatt, E., Egger, A. E., Iverson, E., Manduca, C., Riggs, E. M., … & Shipley, T. F. (2022). Learning from the COVID-19 Pandemic: How Faculty Experiences Can Prepare Us for Future System-Wide Disruption. GSA Today. https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1170&context=geological_sciences

Treibholz Podcast, my first episode in 2020

Check out today’s episode of Treibholz Podcast, where Maxie, Ronja and I talk about the oceanic overturning circulation and #KitchenOceanography (in german), while each of us is doing a similar experiment in her own home. Is podcasting a good format to convey what’s going on with our water, ice and dye? We’ll know soon! :D

Guest posts, take-overs, interviews, and why I love them

Guest posts, take-overs and interviews are a great alternative to maintaining social media channels for every scientist / project / institution individually, if that isn’t what you want to be doing (or — as in my case — a great addition)

As I am preparing a workshop on online science communication, I have been thinking about how maintaining a quality social media presence requires high levels of dedication and commitment, as it requires a lot of work and time. And sometimes, for whatever reasons, committing that sort of time to online scicomm just can’t be the priority, and that is ok. So what do I want to recommend to people who are interested in principle, but who have concerns that it will be too expensive to maintain in the long run in terms of time or energy or ideas or motivation, or whatever else the limiting factor might be?

I think there are ways to do cool and impact-ful online scicomm without building and maintaining a personal social media presence (or focussing on one specific channel and audience and not feeling bad about not doing all the things that one could possibly do).

But first, I believe it is super important to get clear on why we want to appear on social media in the first place.

What are your objectives?

Being clear about what you are trying to achieve is always really good advice, for science communication on social media, outside of social media, for life in general. But especially if we are trying to minimize effort and maximise effects of online scicomm, it helps to be really clear about what the goal is.

If you want to build a community or regularly update a group of people on your project’s progress, having your own social media channels might be the way to go. And I am in no way trying to dissuade you from having your own social media channels! All my suggestions below also apply if you do this in addition to maintaining a regular presence on social media.

If you wanted to, for example,

  • convey a message without necessarily becoming visible as a person
  • create short-term visibility for a specific project / result / event
  • be highlighted to a specific audience that isn’t one you regularly (want to) engage with
  • brush up your CV on the online scicomm side (without too much regular work)
  • prepare content occasionally, but not regularly
  • dip your toes into doing scicomm in a specific format to see how it works for you,

below are some options worth considering.

Who is your audience?

Depending on your goals, you might want to address audiences as specific as, for example,

  • students at a specific university
  • young adults living in a specific country (or reading in a specific language)
  • PhD students working on polar sciences.

And you might want to reach all of them at different points in time, for different reasons and with different messages. For each audience you might want to reach, there are likely accounts already targeting that exact same group of people. The clearer you are about who your audience is, the easier it is to find accounts that have build already that audience to collaborate with.

What is your message?

And does conveying your message include interaction with your audience?

Once you are clear on all this, here are a couple of options worth considering.

Take-overs of rotating accounts

For many communities, rotating accounts on Twitter and Instagram exist. Those are accounts that are focussed on specific topics but are run by different people each week. The benefit of taking over those accounts is that there is a large established audience interested in your kind of content already, that you are instantly exposed to once you take over the account.

Take-overs typically require you to commit to posting on the channel a couple of times throughout the course of a week, and, depending on the size of the channel, it can be quite scary especially if you don’t have a lot of experience using social media beforehand. And, since those channels typically have quite a large following, you should not underestimate the time it will take to prepare content, overthink it, post it, agonize over it and regularly check how it is being received, and respond to people’s comments. But my experience with doing this has been very positive indeed.

For example, last year I took over @GeoSciTweeps (an account with, at that time, 4.6k followers, where each week a different person working in gesosciences presents what they do) and @IAmScicomm (where people working in/on/with science communication present themselves) with then 18.6k followers. Both weeks were great experiences that led to me making super interesting new connections and friendships. Depending on which community you want to interact with during your take-over week, there are many many more rotating accounts and it is definitely worth taking a moment to figure out which is the right account for your purposes.

My plan for my takeover of @IAmScicomm in October 2018

Similar accounts also exist on Instagram, for example @nordicpolarscience, which we used earlier this year to inform an audience of mainly students in anything related to nordic polar sciences about our fjord oceanography student cruise. See example below:

One of our guest posts on @nordicpolarscience on Instagram

Guest “take overs” for institutions

Instead of doing a take over on a rotating account, you could also do one for an institution like your university. I was asked to take over Kiel university’s Instagram @kieluni for a couple of days, and it was fun!

Caution — “take over” for an institution might mean something different than for rotating accounts. In case of Kiel uni it means you have to pre-produce content, and they will post it themselves. Which is actually very convenient (if you realize this early enough, which I did not. But you live and learn ;-)).

Instagram profile of Kiel University. The three posts visible at the bottom are mine!

This take over had unexpected effects: Before our first session using 4 rotating tables simultaneously, one of the students approached and asked me if it was me who did this takeover with the cool tank experiments on @kieluni weeks ago! Glad to prove to Torge, who was part of that conversation, that Social. Media. Works! :-)

Guest posts

Sometimes there are blogs that cater to your intended audience that are happy to accept guest posts.

A while back, I wrote a guest post at Sci/Why, a blog for Canadian science writers for kids. They invited me to write the guest post, and why not? It was fun!

Screenshot of the Sci/Why website

A really good example for a very successful guest posts is one I recently hosted on my blog: Dan’s post on an analogue activity to understand how machine learning works. This post received a lot of attention on Twitter and I am excited to provide my platform to give visibility to such a great project! If you are interested in writing about anything related to “Adventures in Oceanography and Teaching”, please get in touch and I am happy to host a guest post!

Another example of a guest post I did is on my friend Alice’s blog and Instagram for her #experimentalfridays series.

Guest post on Alice’s Instagram @scied_alice

What makes guest posts really convenient is that you can write them whenever it suits you, edit them as often as you might like, talk to your host about how to make them the best fit for their audience, etc.. So in a way it might feel like it is the “safest” way to do online scicomm, because it’s the slowest, most familiar way.

Being featured on accounts

There are also a lot of accounts that are happy to feature you and/or your work because their goal is community building.

For example, I was recently featured on @WeAreCAU on Instagram. Their goal is to feature people with a connection to Christian Albrechts University Kiel (CAU — hence “We are CAU”), and as an alumna I thought this was a great opportunity to connect with people at this university.

Me being featured on @WeAreCAU on Instagram

Being featured this way was also a super easy thing to do, all that was needed was a picture of myself and a short text, which I wrote when it suited me, and which they then posted when it worked with their schedule.

Providing information to other accounts

Sometimes, the goal is just to get a message out there without necessarily becoming visible as the person / project / institution behind the message. I recently met the person behind @doktorwissenschaft, a very popular german Instagram account, “Dr. Science”, who posts two science facts every day. He was happy to receive a list of ocean facts (complete with references ;-)). And using his account with 38k followers (and 3k “likes” on my most recent post on his profile) gives my content so much more visibility than I could achieve with my own channels, so I am really happy about this collaboration. Win win!

The popular Instagram-profile “Doktor Wissenschaft” posts twice daily facts in physics, chemistry and biology!

One of the ocean facts I provided to Doktor Wissenschaft

Again, this is a super easy collaboration, as both parties can work on their own schedule.

Giving interviews

This might actually be the most conventional way of reaching new audiences. And in a way it might also be the easiest way, because you are interacting with a host that will help you tailor your message to their audience, that they know a lot better than you do.

I’ve done this several times over the last year, for example on Susanne Geu’s blog, and on Ronja & Maxie’s podcast “Treibholz”.

My experience doing these guest posts, take overs, etc.

Time commitment

Depending on the kind of collaboration you choose, you need to be aware of how much work it will bring with it. I did the two twitter takeovers mentioned above while being a visiting scientist in Bergen, thinking that then at least I would have something to talk about. But trying to work on other things at the same time and going on student cruises, and that was actually a little overwhelming. Maybe also because it was the first time I tried doing something like this, but I would definitely recommend doing such takeovers on a slow week at home rather than a week where you want to make the most of visiting a place, chatting with people you don’t get to see regularly, go on cruises, etc.. Also do it during a week / in a place where you know you will have good internet access. So being on a ship might not be ideal.

On the other hand, if you choose to work with pre-produced content on channels that you will not be administering yourself when your content is being posted, this is something that you can prepare over as much time as you like and thus fit it around your schedule. So this might actually be something worth considering for a really busy and important week, on a field trip, a conference, whatever, the week your big event is taking place, to raise awareness for whatever you are up to that week without actually having to do anything about it during those busy times, and without depending on having good internet access. Provided everything is prepared beforehand…

Would I do it again?

Yes!!! As I was writing this post, more and more examples of where I have contributed to other people’s online scicomm came to my mind. I didn’t realize I had been doing it so much. And it was fun, I enjoy looking back at each individual interaction and all the different products that came out. It was also work. Of course, being suddenly able to reach audiences that I wasn’t familiar with and some that were so much larger than my usual audience was also both exciting and terrifying. I would totally do it again and I would totally recommend trying it!

And also if you are thinking about taking up a new-to-you form of scicomm, doing a guest appearance somewhere is a great way to test the waters. The coolest scicomm idea doesn’t actually carry very far if it turns out that you HATE the app you need to work with in order to communicate on a specific social media channel, you really can’t find a lot to say on a specific topic, or you find it annoying to write for a specific kind of audience. So this is a really great way to see what it would be like to do this kind of scicomm and get some reactions!

Cool podcast about oceanography! Also useful if you were looking to improve your German! ;-)

Just in case you have not listened to Ronja and Maxie’s podcast Treibholz yet, you definitely should! Ronja and Maxie are learning about oceanography and taking everyone along with them. Educational and entertaining to listen to!

And then I also got to be part of it last year, which was great fun! Check out the episodes that include interviews with me:

  • In the first one (actually their episode 15), we talk about what made me want to study oceanography, what drives the gulf stream, the importance of eddies in the ocean, and a lot more.
  • In the second one, we talk about my favourite topic: Double-diffusive mixing!

And then there are three advent specials, each approximately 10 minutes long, talking about being at sea on research cruises (1. Advent on why it’s awesome to be at sea, 2. Advent on what is being measured on oceanographic cruises, 3. Advent on what it’s like at sea).

And now I am eagerly awaiting the new and exciting stuff that will happen on Treibholz in 2019, looking forward to listening to more oceanography with Maxie and Ronja!

Dipping my toes into podcasting: “Treibholz” with Maxie and Ronja!

Last month I got the super exciting opportunity to participate in a podcast! Maxie and Ronja are running the oceanography podcast Treibholz (“driftwood”) and I got to be in it! Very exciting for someone who tends to speak extremely fast and prefers writing over public speaking. But I had a great experience, Maxie and Ronja and their producer Freerk made me feel super welcome and at ease, and chatting to them was so much fun!

Treibholz producer Freerk, Maxie, myself, and Ronja

Since Ronja and Maxie had tons of questions, and I don’t stop talking once I’ve started, we ended up with two full episodes as well as some “advent specials”.

In the first episode, we talk about what made me want to study oceanography, what drives the gulf stream, the importance of eddies in the ocean, and a lot more. Listen to it here (in German).

In the second episode, we talk about my favourite topic: Double-diffusive mixing! This episode isn’t online yet, but I will let you know once it is!

And then there are the advent specials, each approximately 10 minutes long, talking about being at sea on research cruises (1. Advent on why it’s awesome to be at sea, 2. Advent on what is being measured on oceanographic cruises, 3. Advent on what it’s like at sea). I’m not actually sure what else I talked about, but there is probably a fourth one coming!

Cute gift I got from Maxie and Ronja, featuring their cool postcard

Maxie and Ronja were such amazing hosts, not only being super well prepared for the interview in terms of what questions they had, but making sure there were food and drinks available and giving me a cute gift: a bag decorated with their new merchandise! They have these super cool postcards, asking “Do you like the sea?”. Well yes, I do! :-)