Got to do some fun things in class today. Credit to Jamie for curating these (and every other element of the awesome, so fun and challenging A2H curriculum):
In addition to the mathematical challenges the day posed, I felt challenged by the time of year and all of the time-sensitive, human needs I ought to be attending to as we send home feedback in the form of grades and comments to our students as well as recommendations for courses for next year.
The following excerpt from this article, which I read to prep for a Strategic Plan working group meeting last week, felt especially timely:
The same principle applies: Do whatever you can to take instinct out of consideration and rely on hard data. That means, for instance, basing promotions on someone’s objectively measured performance rather than the boss’s feeling about them. That seems obvious, but it’s still surprisingly rare. Be careful about the data you use, however. Using the wrong data can be as bad as using no data. Let me give you an example. Many managers ask their reports to do self-evaluations, which they then use as part of their performance appraisal. But if employees differ in how self-confident they are—in how comfortable they are with bragging—this will bias the manager’s evaluations. The more self-promoting ones will give themselves better ratings. There’s a lot of research on the anchoring effect, which shows that we can’t help but be influenced by numbers thrown at us, whether in negotiations or performance appraisals. So if managers see inflated ratings on a self-evaluation, they tend to unconsciously adjust their appraisal up a bit. Likewise, poorer self-appraisals, even if they’re inaccurate, skew managers’ ratings downward. This is a real problem, because there are clear gender (and also cross-cultural) differences in self-confidence. To put it bluntly, men tend to be more overconfident than women—more likely to sing their own praises. One meta-analysis involving nearly 100 independent samples found that men perceived themselves as significantly more effective leaders than women did when, actually, they were rated by others as significantly less effective. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to underestimate their capabilities. For example, in studies, they underestimate how good they are at math and think they need to be better than they are to succeed in higher-level math courses. And female students are more likely than male students to drop courses in which their grades don’t meet their own expectations. The point is, do not share self-evaluations with managers before they have made up their minds. They’re likely to be skewed, and I don’t know of any evidence that having people share self-ratings yields any benefits for employees or their organizations.
– Designing a Bias Free Organization, Harvard Business Review
I want my students to know I see them and value the ways they give themselves to our mathematical endeavors each day. I worry about recommendations (Honors, not Honors) and the messages they send to students, intended or not. I worry about the different ways in which different student groups receive these messages, based on internalized oppression and a lifetime of being told they probably won’t measure up.
My day ended with two other colleagues – sharing, venting, laughing, and making ourselves wholly vulnerable over drinks and dinner. Our upcoming spring break will be energizing and so needed. The work will continue, soon enough.