As some of you may have noticed, we recently made the difficult decision to postpone Bespoke: A Day with Edjacent, our planned gathering scheduled to take place later this month. While some expressed disappointment, and even empathy for the organizers who had put so much time and energy into making this date happen, as the lead for the event, I myself felt positive about it. Why? Because for me it was an opportunity to affirm and live out my values: being of service to teachers, taking risks, and holding myself to seeking and using data with an open mind.
Being of Service to Teachers
Being of service to teachers of course had to be central in an undertaking such as A Day with Edjacent, which was essentially an in-person gathering that we were hoping would meet a need for teachers. What was the need we were hoping to fill? To create a space for educators to come together towards the end of a long year and consider what was next for them, what they truly wanted to be next for them if they allowed themselves to dream big, and embrace that they could design their own legacy. As a planning team, we sought to create an experience in which every detail, from the speakers and reflection exercises to the food and setting, would be designed to support that goal, and I felt that what we built met that aspiration.
It was also noteworthy that the experience reflected a significant level of risk taking. To offer something innovative is by definition to create something different, which requires a healthy tolerance for risk. What if one’s idea is not meeting the need you had hoped for, or what if you carry it out and it doesn’t go well? You have to be okay with that, and you have to have the humility to accept that despite your persuasion that what you are doing is the right step, at the right time, maybe it isn’t. After planning this day, which we hoped would be different (in a good way!), we found that educators weren’t signing up in the numbers we anticipated; based on this, my co-lead Doug Wren and I both felt comfortable with the idea that we needed to revisit our plans.
Seeking and Using Data With an Open Mind
And this connects to the last reason why I embraced our decision to postpone our planned date, which is that I always want to ensure that any of my decisions are informed by a clear-eyed review of the data. In this case, though I was fully expecting that we would meet our participant targets that were needed in order to fully cover the event’s cost, as I reviewed the registration numbers closely each week, I had to allow those numbers to better inform my expectations. Of course one data point is not enough to allow for a complete and nuanced understanding of one’s context; however, our metric of weekly registration numbers was significant enough to weigh heavily on my assessment of the situation.
With these values firmly in mind, I felt very confident in making the hard decision to postpone the event. What might a future iteration look like? How might we listen more carefully to our educator community, to ensure better alignment with what we are offering and what they are really looking for? These are questions that will inform the next cycle of planning for any such event in the future, and I welcome the challenge of building that next prototype.
NOTE FROM EDJACENT: If you have ideas or suggestions about this event, we’d love to read them in the comments below or by using our Contact form. If you’d like to be among the first to know about the future of this event, please sign up here.