The Introvert’s Guide to Conference Presentations (Hidden Curriculum #8)

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had technical difficulties while giving a presentation.

How about if you’ve ever been given the five-minute warning from a session presider? Or if you’ve ever been asked a question in the Q&A that you didn’t have the answer to?

The unfortunate reality is that the possibilities for things to go wrong during a conference presentation are endless. I’m sure any seasoned veteran can confirm that they’ve experienced at least one or two over the years. I’ve been there, too. You know what we all have in common?

We got through it. And you will too. Your chances of getting through it are exponentially better if you do the following seven things.

Me giving a presentation at a small graduate conference in March 2019
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I Was on a Podcast! (+ 3 Tips For First-Time Podcast Guests)

Say “I” if you hate the sound of your own voice.

Usually, I would be right there with you.

After giving myself a solid pep talk, I finally sat down and listened to the latest episode of Proofing and Lies – featuring me – and guess what? I loved it!

It felt almost like reliving the whole experience of being interviewed all over again.

In the episode I talk about my dissertation research on pottery and drinking in ancient Greece, my experiences doing archaeological fieldwork, and why I started this blog.

If these are topics you want to hear more about, check out the episode!

If I’m being totally honest, being invited to give an interview for a podcast was both exciting and totally scary for me.

As I mention in the interview, I’m a pretty big introvert. On top of that, I usually avoid talking about my work like the plague.

I was nervous up until about ten minutes before the interview.

But I was calmed by two things. First, the fact that it really was just like a conversation (and the host was super nice). Second, remembering all of the advice I received when I asked folks on Twitter to help me out.

Here are the three pieces of advice that helped me the most:

This one was SO helpful.

Not just for trying to anticipate what topics would come up, but also for making sure I had some relevant examples on hand when they did.

I did ask about editing ahead of time, but in the end I don’t think anything (or very much besides an extra long pause I took when I needed to think) was edited out.

It honestly didn’t even occur to me to ask in the moment.

But this is definitely something worth keeping in mind!

I had water by me, even though I only took one sip the entire conversation.

I don’t know if I remembered to smile while I was speaking, but I was doing a lot of gesticulation (because that’s just what happens when I get excited). Close enough?

Proofing and Lies

Proofing and Lies is a podcast hosted by Elle Rochford and Andrew Schriver. In each episode the co-hosts talk about current events and take on a new baking project.

Want to check out the episode I’m featured in? It’s currently available on both Apple and Spotify!

Latest Posts

Abstract Writing (Hidden Curriculum #7)

For those of you who are new here, the hidden curriculum includes a set of things we’re expected to know how to do, from attending a conference for the first time to applying for funding to going on the job market, without actually being taught them. This month I’m talking about how to write an abstract.

One thing that I actually was taught to do that would benefit me academically is writing abstracts. Moreover, I was taught, as part of a graduate seminar on Ancient Medicine in Winter 2018, how to write an abstract before writing the paper.

Up until that point, I had only ever been confident in my ability to write abstracts based on papers I’d already written, and I’m sure most people can relate. Submitting an abstract based on a paper you haven’t written yet is scary

On the one hand, this nebulous idea that’s floating around in your head has to be coherent enough to be accepted. 

On the other hand, if it does get accepted, you’ve actually got to do the work, write the paper, and present it. Woof.

As it turns out, that lesson was extremely useful as I did go on to submit the abstract to CAMWS in 2019 and it was accepted. In the end, however, I decided to withdraw from the conference when the pandemic hit and everything went online.

Since then, I have become more and more comfortable with writing abstracts based on ideas rather than full-blown research papers and happen to be in the midst of writing one now. So, I thought it would be a good time to share what I’ve learned from the process as part of the hidden curriculum series. 

Writing an abstract doesn't have to be scary
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The Power of ‘I Don’t Know’

A few months ago, I described what scholars of the ancient world needed to sacrifice to make the field more inclusive and equitable. One of those things was feeling the need to be an expert in everything.

It’s not easy for any of us to admit when we don’t know the answer to something. Part of this hesitation, I think, stems from the high-pressure, high-stakes structure of our graduate education. 

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Notes from the Apotheke is now on Patreon!

As the one year anniversary of this blog’s inception rapidly approaches, I’ve been thinking more and more about how I can take things to the next level. So I decided to create a Patreon account.

What is Patreon?

Patreon is a membership platform that makes it easy for creators (artists, writers, instructors, musicians, etc) to get paid. 

Everyone who signs up pays a few dollars a month to receive content. A creator can set up their Patreon page to either allow individuals to pay as much as they want or to choose a membership level that gives them access to exclusive content or services.

Why did I create a Patreon account?

Naturally, my motivations for creating this page were primarily financial. 

On the one hand, I am a graduate student doing this out of the goodness of her heart. I have not, in the eleven months that this blog has been up and running, been paid anything to do it. 

I love doing this and I love amplifying the work that other BIPOC in the field are doing and I’d do it all for free. 

But being a graduate student isn’t cheap, and these last few months have been particularly challenging for me financially. So, I sought out ways that I could remedy that, and Patreon seemed like a good way to do so without having to totally reinvent the wheel.

On the other hand, the guests who write the BIPOC features each month are also doing so out of the goodness of their heart, but as someone who frequently reminds everyone to compensate their guest speakers, I have been unable to do so myself (see above). 

Thus, by becoming a Patron, you can support not only me, but also the wonderful BIPOC scholars who have contributed and will in the future contribute to the blog. Ideally I’d like to dedicate at least half of the proceeds to paying my guest writers.

Plus, you’ll get some cool perks for signing up 🙂

How do I become a Patron and what are the benefits of signing up?

There are four tiers of membership that you can choose from: $3, $5, $10, and $20.

$3 membership gives you access to all of the normal content (blog posts, Twitter threads, Instagram posts) + weekly photos of my cat

$5 membership gets you all of the things the $3 membership does, plus early access to new blog posts, voting power on future posts, and bonus monthly content (e.g. tutorials and templates, pedagogy book reviews, etc)

$10 membership gets you all of the above, plus I’ll send you a monthly motivational postcard in the mail and each month you’ll be entered into a drawing to receive an additional surprise token of my gratitude!

$20 membership gets you all of the above, plus the opportunity to schedule one-on-one consulting and/or feedback sessions with yours truly. I’m happy to sit in (virtually for out-of-state folks, in-person for Michigan folks) on one or more of your class sessions or give feedback on something (abstracts, statements, presentations, lesson plans) you’re working on

If you’re interested in supporting me and my guest writers, and getting some cool perks in the process (like a handwritten postcard from me every month!!), then you can sign up for my Patreon here!

3 Steps to Implementing Antiracist Pedagogy (ARP)

I have talked about antiracist teaching on here in the past. This week I want to delve deeper into why I think antiracist pedagogy (ARP) is important and some ways that we can implement it in our classrooms.

I’ve always been skeptical of diversity and inclusion initiatives that include offering more courses that might ‘appeal’ to people of color and draw them in. This manifests as offering or amplifying existing courses on ‘race and ethnicity,’ on ‘slavery in the ancient world,’ and on the relationship between ‘barbarians’ and Greeks and/or Romans.

In the absence of more structural reforms, I have always viewed such an approach as a trap. 

Courses on these topics are absolutely necessary (although certain choices in vocabulary are not) for exposing students to alternate perspectives, ones which both challenge and complement dominant narratives about the ancient world. Without such perspectives, our understanding of the ancient world would be incomplete.

However, when implemented poorly, these courses reflect a persistent two-part illusion. 

Plastic vases from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens
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BIPOC, POC, or Black?: A Note on Terminology

Last week I came across this tweet about the term ‘BIPOC’:

It reminded me of when I raised the question of what term people preferred to use when referring to people of color: BIPOC, POC, non-white, or some other term. I raised this question because even then there were mixed feelings about the use of ‘BIPOC’ when discussing the experiences of people of color.

I was genuinely surprised at the results (most people preferred ‘POC’) and the discussion it prompted. 

I’ll admit that when I first created this blog, I wasn’t 100% clear on how the term should or had been used. It was a new and thought-provoking term that I thought was more politically correct and inclusive than POC (which I now realize is part of the problem). 

Like most people, I didn’t do my research and just made the switch without really understanding the significance of (and problems with) the term.

When I asked POC studying the ancient world on Twitter last December to share who they were and what they studied as a way of signal-boosting historically excluded groups in the field, one individual claimed that using the term ‘BIPOC’ in my call for contributors was ‘insulting’:

Even now, it seems like the animosity toward the term remains. 

So, I figured that, since I continue to use the term in conjunction with this blog, it was time to set the record straight:

What does ‘BIPOC’ mean?

Where does it come from?

How should (and shouldn’t) it be used?

A Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020
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Ways to Support Afghanistan and Afghan Refugees

Social media has grown much quieter on the topic over the last few days, but Afghanistan and Afghan refugees still need our help. In solidarity, I have decided to highlight some ways that US citizens can offer support by donating, volunteering, amplifying Afghan voices, and through advocacy.

There are many other organizations out there; as such, this list is not exhaustive. 

If there are issues that you are especially interested in that are not listed here, I encourage you to seek out organizations that you can help on your own. Twitter and Instagram are good places to start.

Although I have chosen to focus specifically on ways you can help from the US, there are of course numerous ways that people all over the world – including the UK and Canada – can continue to support Afghanistan and Afghan refugees. This Twitter thread suggests several options for UK citizens. Additional options for both the UK and Canada can be found in this Instagram post.

Donate

Kabul Small Animal Rescue (follow on Twitter @KSAnimalRescue for updates)

“Kabul Small Animal Rescue is dedicated to providing safe, healthy boarding options for their rescue partners, who help international adoptions of Afghan cats and dogs. Through their veterinary clinic, they provide high-quality medical care to owned dogs as well as veterinary care, boarding and adoption options to injured or orphaned street animals. Their main focus is to provide a home-like environment for the animals in their care, so they employ overnight staff to keep their cats company and make sure their dogs get several hours of play and socialization every day through monitored playgroups.”

Recently on Twitter: 

Kindle Project Afghanistan Fund (kindleproject.org / Afghanistan Fund)

“The Kindle Project Afghanistan Fund will provide support to organizations working with artists, artisans, women, and girls who are at risk inside Afghanistan or have managed to relocate outside of the country. Our goal is to raise a minimum of $250,000 as soon as possible. We are looking for donations of $5,000 and above.”

Miles4Migrants (miles4migrants.org)

“Miles4Migrants was formed in 2016 with the goal of helping families rejoin their loved ones as quickly as possible, and without undue financial hardship. As of June 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that over 79.5 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide with over 26 million classified as refugees forced to leave their home countries. While many refugees are eventually able to return home, UNHCR estimates that over 1.445 million refugees are in need of resettlement, while at the same time, government resettlement quotas have dropped, leaving a significant gap in meeting resettlement needs globally.”

Nowzad (https://www.nowzad.com/donate

“Nowzad manages a dog shelter currently looking after over 140 dogs (most available for adoption!!) along with a cat shelter (over 40 cats and most available for adoption!) supported by a modern veterinary clinic staffed by a team of 24 Afghan nationals (including Afghanistan’s first female veterinarians) delivering care and attention to animals in distress.”

Rukhshana Media

From an article in The Guardian: “Now more than ever, Afghan women need a platform to speak for themselves. As the Taliban’s return haunts Afghanistan, the survival of Rukhshana Media depends on readers’ help. To continue reporting over the next crucial year, it is trying to raise $20,000. If you can help, go to this crowdfunding page.”

Sahar Speaks (http://www.saharspeaks.org/donate)

“The vision behind our programme can be seen in its name. “Sahar” is a common female name in Afghanistan, translating as “dawn.” Its meaning here is two-fold: it represents all Afghan women, and also heralds the beginning of a new era, where Afghan female reporters can tell their stories to the world. We hope to change the paradigm that has contributed to the marginalisation of women’s voices.” 

Volunteer

Afghan-American Women’s Association (a-awa.org)

“A-AWA’s vision is to build a Community Center, which will serve as a permanent structural foundation where the Afghan community can benefit from coordinated services aimed at preserving their culture and heritage and to unite the whole community together allowing them to reach their full potential.” Offering Virginia-based volunteer opportunities and taking donations.

Keeping Our Promise (keepingourpromise.org)

“Keeping Our Promise is the most comprehensive resettlement program for Afghan, Iraqi and Kurdish interpreters and support personnel in the United States today. ​Based in Rochester, NY, we assist with initial visa applications under the Special Immigrant Visa Program. Once visas are granted, we will find and furnish our allies’ first apartments, and help with finding employment. We help with a modest vehicle to get to work. Caring Circles help fully integrating families into their new lives so they can quickly become contributing members of the Rochester, NY community.” Opportunities for volunteering and community service, as well as fundraising.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (lirsconnect.org)

“Every day, our community of volunteers, ambassadors, congregations, and communities from across the country dedicate their time to welcoming new neighbors and educating their communities on issues related to migration and refugees.” This organization provides a lot of ways you can get involved, including donating money, taking action, and advocacy.

New American Pathways (newamericanpathways.org)

“New American Pathways is an Atlanta based nonprofit with the mission of Helping Refugees and Georgia Thrive. Our vision is for new Americans in metro Atlanta to become successful, contributing, and welcomed members of Georgia’s communities. We fulfill our goals by offering the most comprehensive, fully integrated continuum of services targeted to meet the specific needs of refugees and other immigrants in Georgia.” You can volunteer your time, donate items, or donate money.

Advocate

Video on the importance of contacting your local representatives by @zhashx:

Email the White House with a pre-filled form: act.rescue.org/yRqHe9p

Call script and email template: bit.ly/afghanistanemergency

Amplify

This whole Twitter thread by Bushra Ebadi:

Amplify the voices and work of Afghan scholars:

And, finally, resist the temptation to wax poetic or intellectualize about the loss of artifacts. Saving lives is more important.

Check out more ways to get involved in this Twitter thread by The Sportula.

Small (Anti-Racist) Teaching

Something that I’ve found interesting is thinking about how common or popular techniques in academia can be applied to anti-racist pedagogy. In particular, I did this a few months ago when I talked about doing anti-racism work the SMART way. More recently, I read James Lang’s book Small Teaching

While I found the book generally helpful and well-written, I found myself asking how could small teaching contribute to anti-racist pedagogy?

Small Teaching by James Lang

Every instructor, at one point or another, is faced with deciding how to deal with difficult subject matter and moments in the classroom. Ideally, such decisions should be made before anything difficult comes up, but often this is not the case. 

For some, dealing with difficult topics and moments – including racism – in the classroom can seem like a Herculean task. Being expected to know when and how to intervene in such situations is a lot of pressure, especially when you’re faced with them for the first time. Plus, it can be emotionally and mentally draining for both you and your students, depending on your positionality in relation to the topic.

So, it should come as no surprise that often, when we’re asked to make changes to the way we teach, we don’t follow through. We are turned off by the idea of some great upheaval in the way we’ve always done things because it seems like such an onerous, time- and energy-consuming task.

I can guarantee that this is one of the driving factors in many instructors’ hesitation to actively reflect and adapt in the face of recent calls for more anti-racist curricula.

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5 Things I Wish I’d Known My First Time Teaching

If there’s anything you know about me, it’s that I’m always thinking about teaching. It’s a wonder that this entire blog isn’t dedicated to the subject. 

But since it’s August (!) and a new school year is suddenly right around the corner (!!) I figured now was the perfect time to share some thoughts about teaching.

My first time teaching was in Fall 2017

Over the last year there have been tons of resources created and shared relating to pedagogy, including this recent workshop organized by the Women’s Classical Caucus. Many of these aimed to remedy the fact that pedagogical training is severely lacking in Classics, and provide support to instructors at all levels and stages in their teaching careers.

What all of these workshops and resources have taught me, at least, is just how much I was missing when I first started teaching. Here are just a few things I wish I’d known way back then.

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