service and planning

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by Adam

It was one of those days. You know, you wonder where the time has gone, what you’re really supposed to be doing, and whether this is really making a difference. Usually, if I keep myself in a classroom for a good part of a day then I can really feel like I’ve done something worthwhile. Outside of a classroom, depending on the context, life can sometimes feel like I’m a character playing out a scene in a Dilbert cartoon. And then, during a conversation with someone above me on our org chart, I was told, “It’s nice that you reach teachers across [the state], but you need to think about how to help out [our university].” That statement, referring to some collaborative grantsmanship I’ve been working on, kind of capped off my day.

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http://dilbert.com/strips/2013-11-08/

I could go on to about the multiple problems with this mentality: that it’s not someone else’s job to direct my scholarship for which I’m accountable, that the university has a mission designed to serve the state and local community, that we have bigger ambitions, …

As I fussed about all this, I found myself thinking about people I’ve met at Crossroads who would agree and are also the people who work on projects that are not easy to execute or with  measurable outcomes. People grappling with how to frame an innovative research project, host their own conference, or reform a single classroom. The trouble is, I haven’t seen many of you, for an obvious reason: We didn’t host a meeting in fall 2013. By now you’ve figured this out, even though we didn’t send out a formal announcement (though a few actually asked what was up). You’ve seen a few extra posts here, as we’ve encouraged some of you to describe work that you’re currently involved in — and we still hope to see a few more examples of this. The idea has been, while John and I have been regrouping and trying to get out from underneath other projects, that you people would be out there continuing to do important, fulfilling work.

Yes, we’d still love to hear about this. So would everyone else. Send us your story and we’ll get it posted right here.

But, also, there’s this, the thing that I can no longer hold back announcing. (This seemed especially apropos when I’m told to think smaller, internally, rather than broader and collaboratively.) We’re getting ready for a meeting the fall of 2014. We’re headed west, and we think we know the city; the RFPs are going out to sites; we’re having conversations with our keynote presenter; we’re planning a trip to visit the conference site in a couple of months. A call for proposals should be out in March.

John and I started feeling the need to ignite the conference again almost as soon as we’d decided against hosting a 2013 meeting. Frankly, we need a bigger perspective. We want to see what people are up to, what their projects are becoming, and what new initiatives they’re daring to undertake. I’m excited to review proposals, match people together in Incubator sessions, and even to pick out the menu for lunches. And the keynote … well, you’ll just have to wait.

More details are forthcoming. But for now we can say that we’re looking at an early weekend in October for the meeting, with proposals due around the first of May. Until then, I have a collaborative grant proposal to write so that I can work with science teachers around the state.

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