How are you at making lemonade out of lemons? I am typically a glass-half-full person, so I have always considered myself to be pretty good at it. That can all go out the window, however, when a flight home (after being gone a long time) gets cancelled or someone is talking while I trying to pray quietly in church (big deals, right? Insert your own sarcastic emoji). I'm also really good at making lemonade out of someone else's lemons. You know the game: someone else complains that it is too hot outside, and I just want to roll my eyes. We live in weather that gets up to 114 degrees, and I just want to say, "Hop in a pool" or "Wear a short-sleeved dress" (I would have to carry a sweater). In other words, first-world problems that occur to others are ones I always have a solution for. My issues? Now those are big deals.
So, at a university for which I teach several Educational Leadership classes, we moved to a new electronic platform several months ago. Great! I'm all good with new technology. In fact, I love it. I joke with my workshop participants that, "I love technology! I just love it even more when it works without glitches." I also tell them that I hesitate to let them know that my doctorate was in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialty in Technology, lest something goes wrong with my audio or video and I can't fix it. Who needs that judgment? :)
Back to the change in electronic platform. We were told to transfer over our Discussion Questions and Announcements for the courses we teach, as the "old version" would soon disappear. Okay, that's fine, I figured. I had converted most all my old courses to the new platform. What we weren't told (or maybe I, along with all of my fellow professors, missed the memo) was that the new platform had a feature that our course information would completely disappear five weeks after the course ended. So, picture this: I've taught an Education Finance class three months ago on the new platform. I want to use my same announcements and first responses to the Discussion Questions that are part of the "set" curriculum for that course. But when I was assigned the Education Finance course that starts this week, I couldn't find the materials from the last time I taught the course. What?! How could this be? I called and wrote emails, asking questions like: Can someone please tell me the reason why that material could not be available to a professor 2 or 3 months after the last time I taught the exact same course? Otherwise, I am reinventing the wheel. This would be akin to a high school teacher being told they couldn't use the same material for their 2nd period American History course as they did for their 1st period course. What would be the reason? This is current material, and all of us who teach know the students are going to change the dynamics of the course each time so much, I can never predict where the discussion will ultimately go. BUT...I can at least have access to the same starting point!! No one could give me the answer to my question, except it costs more to keep materials archived. I guess that makes sense, but it still didn't keep my lemons from beginning to taste pretty sour!! The "solution" I was given was: make a Word document that includes the Announcements and the initial posts for each Discussion Questions. Super. That will be great for future occurrences, but for this course, the horse has left the barn! So that platitude actually frustrated me even more.
I spent a couple of futile hours looking for any hints from the textbook that would show me what I had used in the past...to no avail. Finally, I put on my big girl panties and said to myself, "There is no crying over spilled milk" (I know, I am mixing lemonade and milk, which is likely quite disconcerting to some of you). I decided to simply start everything from scratch. I actually got the new version of the Finance textbook, printed out some new articles, and checked out a couple of ideas from fellow professors on how to use videos and memes to engage the online students in the material (and to get to know me, as a person, a bit better). Pretty soon, I had materials covering our couch, our ottoman, and our coffee table. I was ON FIRE! I got so excited about the analogies I was able to make, the new "take" I was using for some of the topics during the course, and the provocative questions I was going to use to engage the students in the learning.
What had frustrated me to no end three days before has now become a subject for which I am more passionate (yes, it is Education Finance, you didn't read that incorrectly) than I ever been before teaching this course. I absolutely cannot wait for the students to start on Thursday. My lemonade is strawberry-infused and half-frozen with bits of real pieces of strawberries in it. In other words, I truly was able to make something that totally was eating my lunch into something that I was ecstatic about.
What did it take to get me there?
Acceptance was the answer to all my frustration and venting. And after acceptance, my "get your butt in gear" mode kicked in as well.
We all likely have times in which we are frustrated by what look like minor problems to outsiders. What do you do when this happens to you? I want to hear from you! Most certainly, we can all benefit from the support of one another.
In the meantime, I am going to make some lemonade, as it is scorching hot in Tucson today! :)