How this got started

I’m starting this Friday a bit tired from staying up late watching Halloween. The opening scene with the piano music and point of view of the young Myers keeps me coming back every year. I’ve seen this movie too many times to count, and this time around I was struck by all of the telephone conversations which drive the plot. I cracked myself up (and hopefully my viewing partner) with questions. Why does the doctor stand in a tall glass box to talk on a telephone? Also, nobody calls the cops when they see a guy in a hockey mask driving by a school in  a station wagon with a mental institutions’ logo on it. What?! Where are the amber alert text messages? Oh, the suspension of disbelief and cinema, how I love you.

For this post, I wanted to give some background on how this FLC all started.

We have the Five Star Consortium which includes Shoreline, Edmonds, Everett, Lake Washington Tech., and Cascadia. Around the time that this MOU was established, I was part of the adjunct pool for three of the five stars. Somehow I managed to keep up with three email accounts, three different institutional cultures, and three very different perspectives on professional development for faculty–especially adjuncts. While I was in the trenches of trying to piece together a living, I never saw the five star connection.

I actually forgot about this consortium until I received an email from Melody. She was looking to have a conversation about what we do at Everett CC., and so we invited her to visit us. Peg, Jeanne, and I had a fantastic chat with Melody who shared with us the work she has done to research other institutions. Melody will, hopefully, post a summary of her work on this blog sometime this year. I haven’t officially asked her to do so, but it’s a necessary piece of this giant puzzle.

Her ideas got me thinking about how we are wasting resources by not working together. Her energy and spirit was infectious, so when the call came to apply for the FLC grant, I was thrilled to get an encouraging email from my dean to gather my thoughts. Say no more, boss! Peg and I had already been talking Big Picture when I sat down with the application. When I read the grant application packet, my inner student went straight to the rationale for the grant from the perspective of the SBCTC. I thought, “What’s the purpose of this assignment?”

Awhile back, I wrote about bike share programs being a good metaphor for connected learning, and I’m going to take that idea up again. A big city to the south just rolled out their bike share program, and here’s what’s missing: the infrastructure (IMHO).

I understand the move to build something and hope that they will come. The bike share that I used in DC worked because they have bike lanes and wide streets for tourists. This big city to the south is a city on the verge of a crisis because of transportation.

People love riding their bikes, but they also like staying alive. I cringe when I see riders with no helmets riding in this big city, which is by all means, is a cycling town. But not all drivers know that. I hope the bike share makes it, but I’m not seeing the infrastructure. I’m not seeing the plan. I’m not seeing the Big Picture.

And what a marketing failure to start this program right at the start of the rainy season! How many tourists will pedal up to Capitol Hill from downtown in rain that falls in inches? Maybe it will work in this big city to the south. Maybe it needs to fail in order for us to figure out how to make urban cycling work. All we know for sure is the status quo is not working.

Here’s a positive idea: The bikes are supposedly built so that thieves can’t steal the parts. You need special tools to access the inner workings of the bike. The bike mechanic/designers clearly did their homework.

Even though I sound a bit skeptical in this analysis of this big city bike share, I’m optimistic because we are trying something new. I want us to be out of the saddle and charging towards to the finish line of a better city (and a better education system). I want this change to a be sprint for the finish line but it’s really about endurance, grace, and commitment. For every exciting sprint finish, there were long brutal miles to get there.

Like the bike share movement, I see our FLC setting up the infrastructure for teachers to find what they need and they go from there. What that looks like, I don’t know, but I’m offering my time to help figure it. I’ll try to figure out this puzzle because I love educators. After NWeLearn 2014, I’m so motivated to help build a space that’s faculty-driven and equitable to both FT and adjunct faculty to learn about state of the art technology and pedagogy. 

How we get there, I’m not sure, but I know we’ve got to keep this going because the status quo is not working. And we’re not alone in needing this infrastructure.

FLC co-facilitator tip: Start talking to people who are like-minded. Accept that you need help. Find the yin to your yang and then make them your co-facilitator.

I’ll close with a quote from the great Fausto Coppi that I think helps set the pace line for what we need to do. When he was asked how to become a great champion, he said, “Ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike.”

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