Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why a One-Size-Fits-All Bio Might Not Be the Most Effective

Click on the picture to see the 9th edition of Dicho y Hecho; the latest edition isn't quite out yet. 
by Ann Abbott

Kim Potowski, a friend and colleague at the University of Illinois and all-around academic extraordinaire, shared on Facebook the bio that goes along with the newest edition of the textbook Dicho y hecho that she co-authored with another friend, colleague and amazing woman, Silvia Sobral.

I love the story that Kim's bio tells: her own story as a Spanish language learner, both in the classroom and abroad.

Kim's bio could have gone many different directions--her research, her teaching, her awards, her advocacy--but for an intro-level textbook she chose to tell a story that was closer to the project itself. And closer to the students who will use the book.

This made me think about how I would write future bios for myself.

For my two textbooks (Comunidades: Más allá del aula and Dia a día: de los personal a lo profesional), I could follow Kim's bio very tightly:

I was raised in a small village in Southern Illinois, where my interest in Spanish was sparked in my classes with Miss Eddings. While doing my B.A. in Spanish at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, I fell in love with Spanish, both in the communicative classrooms that Bill VanPatten and Jim Lee had created and during my wonderful junior year in Barcelona, Spain. ... One day I'll have to finish this bio.

Here are some other bios I could write and how I would slant them:
  • Community service learning. I would name my community partners and explain their role in my courses and my students' learning.
  • Technology. I would highlight my personal learning network (PLN), name platforms that have been most important for me, tout the potential of virtual volunteering in CSL and mention my experiences with campus-level IT shared governance.
  • Teaching. I would zoom in on one student in particular and tell a story about the arc of their learning in my classes--and afterward.
  • Languages for Specific Purposes. I would compare the reading and analysis of a short stories and business cases. I would share examples of client-based projects my students have done.
  • Entrepreneurship. I would recognize my father and my husband as entrepreneurs and role models for me.

There are so many more examples of how I would write a bio that reflects a particular facet of my professional life. What examples do you have?

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