Sunday, October 26, 2014

#Ccourses Has Ruined Me and I Don't Know How to Fix It

I am typically a very optimistic and positive type of folk.

But lately there's been no balance in my life. And that's not me.

Work. More work. No walks.  No exercise. No real feeling of accomplishment other than not falling off of a mental treadmill.  Lots of trying. Hamster-wheeling.  More trying.  Reflecting.  Action planning.  Susan-What-Are-You-Doing self-chats.

So I went on a walk today.   You know how when you get a new car, and you notice that kind of car wherever you go, for weeks?

I noticed signs on my walk.  Signs.  
OK, universe, I get it, not too subtle on your part.

Two "No Outlet" signs.  Yep.  That's accurate.  Thanks, universe.

A "walker" sign, with an arrow.  A mindless, neutral, robotic walker on a sign.  Yep.  Accurate.

I was starting to understand that this walk was trying to yell at me.

Don't worry, I also noticed beauty. Everywhere.

But what struck me as the perfect analogy for my brain was a bunch of stormdrain leaves, all crammed and forced and mashed together.  Sure, there is a sort of beauty there, but mostly I saw a lack of intention.

And lastly, an arrow pointing at a curb.  I likened it to beating my head against a wall.  Lookie here, look, nothing!

I am big on taking responsibility.  I have been having a lot of WTF moments.

Year three of trying to facilitate a new program at my school.  This week, a team meeting where blank stares were the predominant feature.  Where people did not do things that they were supposed to do.  Simple things.  Team things.  "I am a part of something" things. That they had agreed to do.  Phoning it in.

Clearly, I am doing something wrong.  

So, I reflect.  Why am I so dissatisfied?

My goals have been changed by #ccourses.  I now expect people to want to connect.  To thrive on connecting.  To make time to connect.  To think and research and have fun sharing ideas.

#Ccourses has ruined me.  There's no going back.

I love this course, but am I better at getting other people to want to do this connection thing? Apparently, no. I have modeled, and encouraged, and cheered and all that.  

So, I go back to my question from a couple of months ago - how do I create a connected experience for people who are satisfied with boxed macaroni and cheese?


  1. Know the feeling.
    Let go.
    Connect widely.

  2. Thank you, Simon. I love your perspective.....

  3. #ccourses is saving you, even if it's throwing the "disconnected" / dead-end areas of the universe into high relief right now. I know what you mean about feeling really overwhelmed. I'm so eager to soak up and act on everything #ccourses has to offer that it's making it hard to keep all of the other balls in the air. Would it work to shift the focus of your desire for collaboration and connectivity from the mac and cheese crowd to your students? I find that they are the best remedy ever invented for the downer set.

  4. Hi Susan. Takîng a few steps back...
    Do u want to share in more detail your expectations, numbers/profiles/attitudes of team.
    Time scale of change proposed.
    Technology available
    Potential levers.

    I reckon we can work on something together to reduce self-flagellation.

    Let's get practical. I reckon we sometimes get too tired to see things realistically.

    In my experience pragmatism linked to low expectations and high hopes saves you much grief.

    Maybe we need a connected courses development map.

  5. An enthusiastic amen to Amy's question and finding: "Would it work to shift the focus of your desire for collaboration and connectivity from the mac and cheese crowd to your students? I find that they are the best remedy ever invented for the downer set."

    I have a great job, most days, but I miss teaching. I miss it terribly. For me, the students I am privileged to lead always demonstrate to me that not only is there hope, there's joy and exuberance we will find as we build together. Adults in an organization? Not so much--though I recognize I got into higher ed in part because I hoped for those companions. Yet they are here, after all, in the Amys and Susans I have been privileged to meet and break bread with.

    But oh I hear you. Sometimes my night thoughts are overwhelming. Can anything good survive the business we have made?

  6. Connected Courses has been a great success for me... but not as I had expected. I also had as my main goal in joining in here to get someone (ANYONE...) from my school to join in. But no one did. And then, esp. reading Mariana Funes's great posts about fear and Simon's also great posts about being in the world, I realized that the lesson I needed to learn was just to let go and stop worrying about my colleagues.
    My classes are going great. My students are amazing. And a focus on students has proved absolutely true for me: the more chances I give the students to connect, the more they want to do and learn.
    That is all I need.
    You can't always get what you want...
    But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find...
    You get what you need.
    And I needed Connected Courses to think about that. :-)

  7. I know the feeling of being confronted by the blank stares too... and how the "right" and "wrong" of what you're doing is situational/contextual. Facing the blank stares is endemic to being an innovator...I've always found that being part of an emerging community of practice brings great benefits when I find values and approaches that resonate, but the flip side is those black sheep moments in relation to institutionalized practices. I like the suggestions to look to students for sustenance and also to focus on practical moves. I'll have to keep that in mind when I feel like I'm banging my head against a wall too!

  8. Agree with Simon and Sirius - connect more widely - connect with the students - connect with us! Good luck - and chin up that woman!

  9. Mac and cheese can be improved if you add bacon... or to really a hot red spice like Old Bay ;-)

    I have asked this same question over 20 years in the field. The thing I have found is people are generally receiving more than you think from their blank stares, and that their pace of understanding or readiness is nearly always slower than you've prefer.

    In my first long stint at the Maricopa Community Colleges what I found often was just after I gave up after promoting a new idea, strategy, technology, out of the blue, someone would contact you and ask, "I'm really interested in trying ______"

    So its a patience thing. Its leading horses to water, but giving them time and nudges to drink. And going on long walks. And getting your fill of connectivity externally until it gels internally.

    It takes a long time. And it becomes more and more difficult to understand the reluctances.

    More long walks. More seeing patterns in the drains. And not giving up.

    And more bacon

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  11. So many different approaches. Now it is time for you to poach one or two or decide none of them fit you. The lesson I learned from community organizers like Myles Horton is to start where they are, not where you are. And know this. Moses led his people to the promised land, but he didn't get to go there with them.

  12. Some random annotations: