What I Found There: CXNats Sucks & Reflective Blogging

CXNats Sucks

“Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don’t know exactly what they are!” ~Alice from Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There

So, I usually keep my twittering in check, but this morning, I lost it. After spending two hours researching on my adjunct question, I needed a break. The plan was to curl up next to the laptop and watch Cyclocross Nationals in Austin, Texas. Yeah, bike racing in America! Woohoo, Katie Compton, you know, the most decorate PERSON–male or female–in bike racing who most Americans have never heard of, but that’s fine. CX is a silly niche sport within cycling. I love it.

When most of the PNW is consumed with Seahawks mania, I’m happy to hike on trails while they are 12th Manning or whatever. And I know a woman competing at this level, and she’s amazing. Every time I think, “man, it’s way too cold/windy/miserable to ride,” I see Courtenay McFadden on her bike (Best quote on her website: I know, I pedal like a girl. Try to keep up). I know her sister-in-law pretty well, so I feel a bit invested in this race. She’s a hometown girl done good. Her husband’s a local firefighter who also races, if you want to get all patriotic. Well, get this, they postponed the race because of the weather. Seriously. Cyclocross was invented to help cyclists stay fit in the off-season when the weather is bad. If you don’t know anything about the sport, then here’s some advice I got at my first bike clinic.

I asked the teacher, how do you know when to get off your bike and run with it?

He just looked at me very serious-like and said, “Alyson, if you can’t ride something. Get off your bike, pick it up, and run as fast as you can. If you’re resting, you’re losing.”

So, okay, Austin, TX, here’s the story, your organizers blew it. And USA Cycling (USAC), you suck too. The rain was unfortunate, but your planners should have known all about this sport and what it does to the terrain. That mud is part of the fun. That grass grows back. That delicate trees should not be near the course. A bit of education could have saved a lot of people money—in particular junior racers and female privateers. By the percentage, more women are privateers, meaning they have little or no team support. Even the teams who sponsor male cyclists give very little funding. And they give women even less.

USAC, you should have known better, but then again, I’ve had little love for you as female recreational cyclist. You don’t care to encourage women or junior racers into the sport, but you’re happy to cash our checks to “join” your organization. Thanks for the free sticker! It seems like you’re more interested in trying to prove something globally that nobody really cares about—the rest of the world thinks very little of US cycling—they hated Lance Armstrong before America did. And now we cancelled our own CX nationals because of mud. MUD?! That’s like not having beer at Oktoberfest! Had you scheduled this race in New England or the PNW, this may not have happened. (That’s where most of the women racers are from, but who hell cares about that?). Even still, I’m never ever doing any races where I need one of your licenses. Boo, hiss. The pro-men will likely be there en force, but some of the ladies and the juniors had to go home. So, in short, you suck.

Here’s something I need to recognize. I’m angry about the CXNats postponement because I wanted something to cheer me up after doing my adjunct question research (I’ll talk about this topic another time). The postponement means I won’t get to watch the race live, because I’ll be at work like most of the female privateer racers, and well, I stayed kind of cranky until my husband cheered me up by making fun of American football, by imagining how an old Belgian is trying to understand American CX, and reminding me that Downton Abbey is on tonight. Okay, readers, I feel better now, thanks for listening.

What I Found There: Reflective Blogging 

Then I saw an invitation to the #ETMOOC two year anniversary Twitter chat. Two years! Bob Dylan’s right: Time is a jet plane.

So I decided to look back to see what I was thinking 2 years ago on my very first blog, which was a result of the ETMOOC and my educational technology class. Here’s the question I was asked to answer post-ETMOOC

How have you changed as a digital educator and citizen? How do you see yourself (your identity) now?

This is the exact question I am dealing with right now. I’m applying for two instructional design positions, and I’m (re)creating who I am as educator. I am still, and always will be, a writing teacher. This is my ninth year teaching writing, and reviewing my CV has been a reflective, slow, painful process. For instance, there is a huge gap in my CV from 2005-2008 when I worked constantly. (To clarify: Twenty-two comp courses a year=constantly). I have very little to show in the way of professional development. Those were not especially happy years for me personally, and it was all due to the amount I was working. I was not chosen for a position that I really wanted, and it took me awhile to figure out what’s next. In 2009, I made some radical changes in my personal life, and my professional life has been slowly evolving. Everyday, it gets a little better. As I mentioned before, most of my online persona has been within the learning management systems. When I saw a listing for a job that mentioned “an online presence,” I laughed. I didn’t have one! My mid-pack bike racing results weren’t going to help me!

So. Here I am. I don’t know exactly how to sum up my learning, ETMOOC, you are the first step toward something different. Something I’ve been looking for, and for that, I thank you.

Alec Couros tweeted the link to one of my blog posts, and I went from three readers to over 300 in four hours. What a swell dude. That was when I pretty shy on the Twitter machine–in fact I planned on canceling my account after the MOOC. Silly, ol’ Alyson. What a rube!

The next thing I found is my short reflection of the Annual Teaching and Learning Retreat where I was asked to present. Now two years later, I am on the planning team, and I pitched the idea of fear or I jumped on the idea when one of my colleagues said it. Whatever. We’re talking fear for two days. I think we have a solid program.

Here’s what presenter-Alyson said two years ago (she had no idea how much work goes into planning something like this. Ignorance is bliss, truly).

I hope that the audience got something out of what I said, and here are a few of the Big Ideas I took away from the other speakers:

An astronomy teacher reminded us of how little we know about the universe.

An IT worker made a video so he could be with us and his pregnant wife.

A history teacher made me see her passion for her subject.

A poet reminded me that students, like writers, work in isolation.

A nurse showed us the amazing technology our future nurses are using.

A welder explained how his program had to become viable or it was going away.

An early childhood educator showed us how children have a need and a right to question.

A cosmetology teacher showed how her students chart their success over time.

An art teacher made me work as a graphic designer, and I laughed really hard with my group.

This summary is one of the many reasons I love teaching at a community college.

Wow, and now I know all of those people so much better. It’s my job to represent their interests. They are now friends.

My blog post from Friday mentioned the Rabbit Hole, and I was reminded of my M.Ed portfolio. I decided to take a peek at that as well to see what I was up to a year ago. Silly ol’ Alyson was really, really thinking she’d jump into a doctoral program upon graduating. What a rube!

Check out this title and excerpt from a paper on educational leadership:

Title. What I Found There: Self-Assessment As Educational Leader

Btw, if I was asked to do one more self-assessment in that program I was going to lose my mind.

Excerpt:

In this course, aside from learning that I do not have the chops to be an administrator, I learned a great deal about the organization of institutional structures in higher education. What solidifies my lack of confidence in attaining a leadership position? Good question. In the excerpt below from the second assignment, I did a short case study on a manager of a nonprofit organization.

Question 4. What are the most critical skills needed to be a successful manager in your line of work?

Since we are a nonprofit, the management of our budget is crucial. I think that the most critical skill as a manager is being able to hire the right workers for the right job. It took me several experiences with firing people to learn how to hire better. At first, I was hiring people based on how much I liked them, and if their skill set didn’t quite match, I felt like I could train them. That was a mistake. I was just creating more work for myself. It’s also unfair to the employee who gets hired thinking he or she is suited for the position.

I’ve included this portion of the assignment as a way to document a reminder of why I should not take a management position. I believe, still to this day, that I want no truck with being in administration. In addition to completing a requirement of the assignment, this project gave me insight to how conflicted I am at times about leadership and management, but should I consider these positions in the future, I should remind myself of what is written here. This is a rabbit hole I should avoid. 

Well, well, what a rube! It so great to reread all of this about my former self. Silly, silly, Alyson.

I bolded all of the phrases that really scared me then (and now). When I worked on that assignment, I had just reread Alice In Wonderland, and many of the references were fresh in my mind, so I found a few quotes to include in the essay.

I identified mostly with Alice who never quite knows what’s going on around her yet she’s always in the thick of major events.

Funny how very little yet everything has changed on this jet plane of time.

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About Alyson Indrunas

Always learning about instructional design, educational technology, #OER, professional development, adult education, and the federated wiki. A Memoir.
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4 Responses to What I Found There: CXNats Sucks & Reflective Blogging

  1. Lisa Chamberlin says:

    And yet here you are…always leading. Some are just born to it. Liking it is not required.

    Like

  2. Maybe because it’s Monday. Maybe it’s the endless fog. Maybe because my dad is a huge Bruce Springsteen fan so my childhood song-track usually involved The Boss. The phrase “born to it” made me think of “Born to Run.”

    In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream
    At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines
    Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
    Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin’ out over the line
    Oh-oh, Baby this town rips the bones from your back
    It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
    We gotta get out while we’re young
    `Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

    Now some business: Do you have month (before June) that is good for you to come “guest speak” with my FLC? I’ll type up something formal for your superiors and the FLC grant will pay your way. I just need to nail down a month, and we can plan the agenda for your superiors to approve teaching “tramps like us.” Saxophone not required.

    Like

  3. Lisa Chamberlin says:

    Like

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