Center of Excellence for Teaching & Learning

CETL Podcast - Episode 7 - Madi Maynard

Tony Pellegrini: Good morning! Good morning, friends! Thanks so much for tuning in again. Tony Pellegrini here to with teaching and learning at Southern Utah University and this morning we have a guest—Madi Maynard—who is a student learner here at SUU and is an ACE particularly are participating with our ACE program. Maddie, maybe you could give us a little bit of background information on yourself take a moment and introduce yourself and tell us (you're going to a much better job than I am) tell us a little bit about your ACE activities and how they help prepare you to be a great learner here at SUU.

Madi Maynard: Absolutely! My name is Madi Maynard, as you stated, and I'm a senior this year, but I will be continuing my education at SUU getting a Masters of Arts in professional communication, so I'm really excited about that. I've had some really cool experiences here, some wonderful professors and mentors—specifically with the ACEs program. I have learned so much in being an ACE because we try to use a lot of different takes on learning. We deal with a lot of different students and we get to learn what helps them learn, and in turn it kind of helps us figure out the ways that we learn best which is really exciting. Yeah, so I'm excited to be here today!

TP: Fantastic! Fantastic! The experiences you've had with ACE, I'm sure you've reached out to work with numerous learners and teachers, instructors, as well. One of the things that through our conversations that we've had that you've shared with me is your appreciation to make connections, maybe across unrelated areas. You've got students across all different areas in the colleges at our university. How do you reach out and look at the challenges that they might have that you're trying to assist them with in these unrelated areas and try to pull that together into a meaningful support approach? Can you give some ideas of what you do?

MM: Yeah! One that's really coming to my mind right now, because it is class registration this week, is when students come to us and they have their major picked but they have some room to take kind of extracurricular classes, if you will. They don't need to take all major-related classes so one of the connections that we try to encourage them to make is say, "What else do you like? What other things would you like to be a part of?" And some students will say, "Bowling." So we'll say, "Great! Sign up to this bowling class, take bowling, and use that as a way to connect your other studies." So if you're also, you know, a chemistry major, how can the sciences determine bowling, you know? And chemistry is a little bit difficult to relate to things, but we've had some cool experiences where a student that I know in particular is a chemistry major took the bowling course and started using mathematics and science equations to try to figure out how they could get strikes in bowing. So it's two completely unrelated topics, but at the same time the bowling class allowed them to look at their studies a different way and still learn and study and relate to the information but have a different level of fun while doing it.

TP: Oh my goodness! You know, what a great example. I think, you know, "Bowling for Chemistry at SUU!" What a wonderful way to find those unique differences that we have in our lives that can create meaning for us. One of the things that you really hit on in that example was their particular—an individual's particular passion. You know, a passion for bowling and then trying to take that from bowling and loop that to chemistry. How (I can tell you're a very passionate educator and you're looking to engage with your master's degree) how do you pass that passion on to those with whom you come in contact? Help them to discover solutions to their problems through their passions? What are some of the things that you do or could share with our listeners?

MM: Yeah! One of the things that I do, and kind of like the bowling and chemistry, is I think that everyone has passion within their major, but I also think they have several other passions that might be more of, you know, hobbies or different things like that that can always be related to learning about their major. One thing that I have done that has helped me so much is I have a passion for dance. Dance is actually my minor: dance performance. But I decided that I was going to teach some elementary aged kids how to dance. So I joined a program at the Aquatic Center here in Cedar City, and I started teaching anywhere from preschool up to about sixth grade. And in figuring out how those students learned (since they're younger most of them are usually very kinesthetic, they want to move) and it helps them to be able to use their body to learn. As they can wiggle and move around and get all those wiggles out of them, then they're more apt to listen at that age, I think. So it was very interesting for me to follow that passion and learn how to teach other people, which helped shape the way that I learned—because I started becoming much more kinesthetic and I started wanting to do a lot more hands on things because I saw how useful it was for some of these elementary students.

TP: I think that's absolutely incredible. Wonderful that you with your passion regarding dance and that physical approach to life turn back to these elementary students and reached out to them. Talk to us for a moment: Certainly, somebody touched your life in regards to dance, that passion just wasn't always there. Was there someone in your life that you connected with or that inspired you in the area of dance or other passions that you have?

MM: Yeah, absolutely! I kind of have two very distinct dance experiences—and this is very interesting when it comes to learning, because in high school I was on a dance team that was very precision. Everyone had to be together, and there was a lot of, you know, "You can't necessarily do your own thing because if we want to win you all have to look the exact same." So that was the learning experience that I had in high school. And coming to SUU and choosing to do a minor in dance performance, I obviously had to take some dance classes here. And I was really excited about that and I got into my first modern class and it was worlds different than what I had done in high school because it was a lot more, "Okay, you need to feel your body. You need to feel the movements that you're making. You need to be in total control. I'm not necessarily going to tell you what to do, but I just want you to do what you feel needs to happen." And that was kind of a hard thing for me to grasp at first because I hadn't been used to learning that way. It was very different than what I had experienced before, but now that I've had both of those experiences where it was very direct and very intentional teaching versus a lot more, "I'm gonna teach you but I'm gonna let you lead."

I really appreciate having both of those experiences; so my high school dance teacher was one of those people that I really look up to for that kind of direct learning and direct teaching. But all of my dance professors as SUU—I don't think I could pick one to put in front of any of the others. But all the professor's here are very good at teaching that style where they say "I'm gonna teach you but I'm gonna let you lead in your own learning." And so I've really appreciated that as well.

TP: That, you know, giving back, being able to share what you've learned throughout your life is such a positive opportunity that we have here at SUU. I'm grateful for the opportunity that you've had and that you've shared with us today. Any last minute words of wisdom or advice for our listeners in becoming more engaged in their learning, here at SUU or anywhere?

MM: Yeah! I think my last piece of advice that I would any SUU students, or students in general, or just anyone who is looking to expand their knowledge, would be to always kind of push yourself a little bit further, push the envelope. Because that's when I have learned the most about myself as well as the subjects that maybe I'm trying to learn is when I've said, "I'm not very comfortable with this but I'm gonna try this out and try to make some connections throughout my learning." And that's when those light bulb moments have really happened for me.

TP: That is wonderful! I'm grateful that those have happened for you here at SUU and that they're going to continue through your Masters. Madi, I appreciate you. Thank you so much for your participation today. And listeners we'll have more in the upcoming weeks. Thank you very much! You make it a good day Madi. Bye-bye now.

MM: Bye!