Photo Credits to Michael Buh, Honors Design student from Iowa State University
Like many of you, I spent yesterday at the Iowa 1:1 Institute #i11i. It was a day well spent. I connected face to face with many people who have challenged and inspired me virtually for a long time. I had multiple opportunities to connect with others who are working on similar goals and initiatives as we are here in Waverly-Shell Rock. As much as I get out of my ongoing 140 character conversations with these people, the chance to explore and expand with unlimited words was priceless. I left feeling energized, inspired, and even a little overwhelmed. I fell asleep processing #i11i and woke up doing the same. There is so much to think about—and even more to do.
There are two big things I will start tackling today. I’m sure one of these is something everyone who attended yesterday will be doing today—that is starting the process of building outward within the district. There were only five representatives from our more than 200 district staff members. We have some serious work to do to get the right information, ideas, and challenges to the right people. The other is something I’d like to offer up as a challenge to everyone who attended #i11i yesterday—that is reaching out to my colleagues in districts who were not represented yesterday.
As best I can tell, only about 1/3 of the districts in our state were at the conference yesterday. That means one of my biggest fears is probably true. I’ve been living in an echo chamber, surrounded by like-minded people who shore me up and propel me forward. As much as this echo chamber is my happy place, today I’m going to force myself out of it. I was reminded yesterday that we sometimes unintentionally leave others out—like middle school cliques.
We get so wrapped up in our own little happy places that we forget there are others who are left out. I would even respectfully suggest that the name of the Institute itself may be a contributor to this phenomenon. Perhaps the name should be changed to increase inclusivity. There was much shared yesterday that is invaluable information to those committed to change and progress-regardless of whether or not they are 1:1 districts.
Most people I talk to lament some systemic barriers—things that are standing in between where we are now and where we wish to be. The next waves of change we long for will not happen until the mindset of innovation takes hold in more districts. As you know if you’ve read my blog before, I believe we have a responsibility to purposefully reach out and pull others along.
So today I will be crafting emails to my friends and colleagues in neighboring districts who were not at yesterday’s conference. I will be sharing my excitement for the ideas and collaboration. I will be filtering the resources shared yesterday to send relevant links and connections to them. I will be strategically inclusive and supportive of good work—even if it’s only in infant stages of development.
I challenge you to do the same. Look at the list of attendees. Who do you know who’s not on the list? Who can you reach out to today? Will you?