Brene Brown says something like, “Maybe stories are just data with a soul.” What a powerful phrase, and one I can certainly identify with as I work through the stories and anecdotes that make up the Innovation Diploma. Last week I wrote about the struggle we’ve had in creating team and understanding purpose. The story I told was one of disconnection, uncertainty, and disengagement. It was a story that seemed to have only one ending – one of failure. But the story I want to tell right now is one of hope and possibility. It’s one about a group of students who created connections with each other, discovered their voices, realized they can and should lead, and understood their voice matters.
The week began as usual, with our Traffic Meeting, which is a 20-40 minute all-hands meeting where we discuss upcoming deadlines and immediate needs. One of the priorities this week was the presentations to Meg Brown, our International Coordinator, to share ideas and propose plans for the CORE (on campus) Interim Term week in March. The two groups did an incredible job sharing their early prototypes for Interim CORE, and they listened to feedback with patience and grace. There were moments where I could sense the students were receiving constructive feedback as “negative” and associated any questioning or prompting to look at another angle as evidence that we didn’t like or appreciate the prototype. But I interjected to tell them that this isn’t a project you turn in to your teacher. You’re not done once you present. Your job in this presentation is to share your ideas thus far. You are serving as a catalyst and presenting new angles for Mrs. Brown to explore. All the feedback we’re giving you is to help you in the future. Remember, there is absolutely no grade. There was a visible sense of relief (although I’m not sure I was convincing enough!). After the presentations, we decided to wait until after trip sign-ups to pick up the prototypes again. In the meantime, we needed to focus on our passion boards.
For the next couple hours, the Cohort shifted gears and filled their passion boards with quotes, pictures, articles, and sketches that represented their passions and curiosities. While this continued into our few hours together on Thursday, I definitely saw an intense and incredibly welcome shift in thinking for so many of the iD students. I think they began to realize the stark contrast between class and iD, between project and ventures, and between an assignment and a choice. They decided to take control and called a meeting where they shared out their current ideas, searching for intersections and connections among members. I felt like a proud mom watching my kids discover their independence. Since we recently secured a satellite office-space for our start-up at ROAM, the Cohort realized they needed to decide which space they needed to meet this next week in order to satisfy the needs of all members. They decided to remain on-site for Tuesday and at ROAM on Thursday. While this meeting and decision may seem trivial, it was a pivotal and long-awaited moment.
I have data that details the engagement and perception of each of the iD member. I have graphs and pie charts that reveal how they feel they’re working together as a team. But that’s all useless without sharing with you the soul of iD. What is it that we embody? After this week, I can definitively say, we embody hope and the opportunity for change.