“Who dares to teach, must never cease to learn.”–John Cotton Dana
In March, the EdCom Professional Network is launching a new format for our EdComversations. If you haven’t joined us for one in the past, the idea is pretty simple. Get a bunch of thoughtful, insightful, dedicated museum educators together, and have a conversation about an issue we’re facing either institutionally or as a field. Last year we discussed everything from Developing a Strategy for Diversity and Inclusion to Race, Dialogue, and Inclusion, to Inclusive Storytelling in Museums. In retrospect, we had quite a focus on inclusion… which is one of the reasons why we are shifting format. Since the beginning of our efforts, our goal has been to invite the audience to join in these conversations. For the most part, we’ve seen engagement through the chat box or in the corresponding Twitter chats we’ve hosted with #museumedchat. As we’ve reflected on our practice, we’ve determined we can do better. So here’s how we’re shifting.
- Change of Platform: We’re moving away from the webinar style set up, and switching to Zoom. In this way, we can see your faces, we can hear your voices, and we can break up into smaller discussion groups. The possibilities are vast, and we hope you’ll give us ideas of how we can engage in even more powerful ways.
- Shift in Delivery: Though we’ve said we want to model a conversation style dialogue, we’ve had trouble putting our money where our mouths are. We’ve defaulted to scripting out the conversation as though we were presenting at a conference. Many times we’ve had multiple run-throughs where we find the best conversations happen during rehearsal. We don’t want this, but we do want to find the right blend of well-prepared and thoughtful speakers, combined with the natural flow of conversation.
- Alignment of Focus: With the AAM Annual Meeting focusing on Education this year, we have an opportunity to create an evolving conversation that ties into the Annual Meeting, so that those without the means or ability to travel, can still participate before and after.
- Power of Storytelling: As museum professionals, we recognize the power of narrative and context. We want the EdComversations to be a place where we can share stories- our greatest successes, our most embarrassing flops, those moments when the emotional power of the impact of our work brings us to tears, and everything in between.
- Iterative: We’re still learning. There will be some pieces that will work out well. Some will not. As educators, we’re open to learning, to reflecting, and to continuing to improve and be responsive to the needs, wants, and ideas of our colleagues. So thank you in advance for helping make us better.
The past two years of EdComversations offered a platform to more regularly prompt discussion across AAM’s professional networks that featured EdCom core goals to advocate for diverse audiences and educators, and promote professional standards and excellence in the practice of museum education. Seeking to highlight the intersectionality of theory and practice, program guests were asked to share about thought leadership, global thinking, cross-discipline opportunities, and models of “boots on the ground” applications for both short- and long-term inclusion at varying institutions.
However, if EdComversations are of no value if you, our audience and colleagues, are not finding value. What ideas, topics, and issues do we need to be discussing as a field? What can we learn from outside the field and then apply to our practice? What organizations are taking bold steps outside of traditional norms to reach new audiences and deepen impact? In the upcoming year, we hope to illuminate these answers through EdComversations. In order to do that, we need your help. We want to hear from you and to be frank, we need to hear from you.
Winston Churchill once said that “success is stumbling failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” While we certainly do not classify EdComVersations as a failure, as we successfully increased regular opportunity for dialogue in the field on varying topics, we recognize that we can do better. We are excited to adopt a “fail forward” mindset as we explore what can be in this new format. So we hope you’ll join us on the third Thursday of every month at 1 PM PST/ 4 PM EST starting on March 15th.