Thursday, February 04, 2021

feeling some joy

It's a real double-edged sword.

In deploying the Stellarium training courses, I wanted to take a fresh tact, come at it from a good place, not bog it down with baggage, be energetic and open and highly accessible.

But I'm getting really frustrated and irked and... bitter? A number of people are... presenting challenges. 

People are not reading emails. At all. People are skimming emails. RSVP requests are being ignored or not followed. When I send bulk emails by BCC, I'm terribly concerned they are not getting through. So I beg for RSVPs. I need acknowledgements and feedback. Only 50% are returned.

I know I'm not perfect. My communications can be unclear. I try very hard to avoid typos and grammar errors. But overall in this regard I think I'm doing well. I think I'm a good communicator, above average. Thorough. Focused. And, at the same time, humble, always improving, optimising, looking for better ways.

For an upcoming course that people were getting a little pushy about, not quite demanding, I asked for confirmations. Nothing. So I've lowered these people, dropped them back into the waiting list, and pulled others keen to go ahead up into the roster. I'm expecting, dreading, the heated argument... "Why did you not include me?" Well, you were not expressing your interest.

And, I'm doing this all for free!

I wanted to try a high-touch approach with this, keep it human, personable, responsive. When it works, it works, and it fills me with great joy. 

Thanks again, Blake.  I checked the roaming folder and found everything I was looking for.  I also applied your tip to add semi-transparent view outside of ocular.  That is very helpful indeed.

The psychic energy from that, the uplifting, the pedagogical rewards are soul-satisfying.

It buoys me for days. My buddy from high school calls it "friendly juice." I was recharged, ready to take on the world...

Then someone sends a message with the word "instruction" in the subject line asking to attend the webinar and then doesn't show up reporting they could not connect with the "Zoomer" software. Pinging my email multiple times after the webinar has started. I think they were expecting corporate level service and respond time from... us. Me. One person.

This has highlighted an issue. I need an assistant to process people. Humans arriving late even though I told them to arrive early. Not reading their emails properly and botching a login to a virtual meeting. Doing both things at once. Arriving late and botching the login. Then getting angry that no one is helping them. I don't know. Is that harsh? I just assumed people would be on time and know how to get connected. I did tell people in advance, well in advance, they could reach out to me to practice.

With a new instructor coming online, maybe this issue is moot. While Ian teaches, I can run block.

This drags me down. I know well that some struggle with information technology and that many of the RASC members were born when there were no personal computers on the planet. 

But I do think it is reasonable for me to assume that people will meet me half-way. I cannot be your personal IT assistant. Is that discriminatory? I feel awkward about that. But I'm working hard. I'm learning every day. I've learned a LOT in the last couple of months. 

I set out, from the start, wanting to come from a different place. In my corporate training environment, everything is commodity. Base price, then extra this, plus that, premium this, platinum that. I didn't want to work that way. I wanted to be open and sharing and accessible.

But this is VERY taxing.

The people with high demands (maybe unreasonable) are taking away from my capacity to give to those in need, legit, having done the work.

Is it naïve of me to think so lofty of society members?

Some say I should automate all this. And I think we will have to if we get dozens or hundreds of people wanting it. Let the robots deal with the majority, the tech savvy, the self-sufficient. But then of a personable, human, high-tech for those struggling. Maybe a hybrid approach is needed. Still, and this is uncomfortable to say, I think some are taking advantage, consciously, and some unwittingly.

This is a free service.

I'm a volunteer.

You should be grateful

This is a slippery slope. A few bad apples are making me feel bitter. 

I really want to rise above this.

Already I'm enjoying some things in this new approach. Stronger connections with students, a relationship, something possibly ongoing, a friendly face. Greater sharing (but still room for improvement there). A good sense of community and comradery. Continuous learning. I'm learning stuff through course prep and questions from students. Participants pointing out things, sharing their discoveries. Participants sharing breakthroughs. We're working together. I like to think that excitement is transmitting to the participants. We're all in this together.

These rewards were what I was after. It is what fuels a teacher. It is so... it is satisfying. But I'm looking for a bigger word. It is a pure thing. A pure emotion.

It makes my heart grow one size.

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