We All Just Want to Belong
I just had dinner with my friend Eric Cross tonight. We just met a few months ago and I feel like the depth of conversation that we can get to within minutes is something that has taken years for me to develop with anybody else. And why is that? It’s about connection. The MTV Innovator Energizer happened this past Saturday in Mountain View, California. I was one of about 50 Google for Education Certified Innovators to attend this amazing day at the Google offices in Sunnyvale. The one thing that I was left with by the end was a deep sense of connection. Actually, according to data, because, you know, we like that sort of thing, 35.4% of the Innovators that responded to a survey rated the most valuable part of the program to be “Community with other Innovators.”
This journey for me started almost a year ago when I decided to apply for the Google Innovator Academy. I don’t know how I got so lucky as to be one of the 37 Educators that got chosen for the cohort of #WDC 17 to meet up in Washington DC, but I did. It was at this place, that I really felt a deep sense of connection. As a matter of fact, I hugged every single person in the cohort upon first meeting them, even though I’d only met two in real life prior to the event. Then again, I am that person… Here’s the first selfie I took when I literally realized that I had a long lost family that I didn’t know about.
In terms of the actual Energizer itself, I got to connect with a member of my #WDC17 cohort, a friend that I’ve made on twitter but never met in real life, my assigned mentor for the year (and his lovely wife and the littlest of all innovators, his 1 year old son), someone who presented at a the same conference as me in Chico, members of the EdTechTeam, someone who led a workshop that forever changed the way I look at or take photos, a parent from a school that I used to work at, the greatest Innovator coach someone could ask for – ever, innovators of the #SWE17 cohort who came from faraway places, like TX and NC and of course some of the most amazing new BFFs that I could ask for.
One of the highlights for me was the Spark Sessions. I had the pleasure to attend two sessions and lead one. Seeing all the different things that people were pitching during the day, I wanted to attend every single one of them. From growth mindset football (y’all call it soccer here) to 360-degree storytelling to Chopped: The Innovator Edition to Machine Learning, there was a lot to cover, uncover, learn and unlearn. I pitched my own “playshop” in partner inversion techniques that can be used by adults and students alike in building trust, relationship and a whole lot of laughter. Especially when you fall/fail. The energy I felt in each one of these spark sessions was amazing and contagious. It’s been almost two weeks and I still feel like I’m talking about it on a daily basis.
In my view of life, there is thought and action. When the two meet and action takes place with a degree of thought is when I get all juiced up. I did a whole lot of thinking throughout the MTV energizer and asked myself, “so, what next?” Here are the most concrete things that I have taken action on:
- Reached out to a new connection to talk about the intersection of our Innovator Projects.
- Reached out to another new connection to talk about a leadership class they will be teaching and how they could incorporate some of the partner inversion techniques in their curriculum.
- Wrote this blog post.
- Encouraged three friends to apply for the Google for Education Certified Innovator program.
- Created a timeline to reconnect with three of my #WDC17 cohort and engage them in my Innovator project and get the next round of feedback and iteration.
- Registered for ISTE and realized that there will be an Innovator Energizer the day I arrive.
- Started to create a culture of ritual in my daily life. I have a morning and evening ritual. One of the things I do is filling out a daily google form reflecting on my day.
- Committed to a #365dayphotochallenge on Instagram to practice photography, inversion and have another daily practice.
- Wrote this blog post.
- Committed to having a “happy innovator hour” with local-ish innovators in the SF Bay Area.
In short, the energizer gave me the energy to tackle new projects, renew my commitment to other projects and gave me the opportunity to be connected to some amazing people. They say that you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most. If those 5 people are all Innovators, your life, well, let’s just say that this ride is just starting…
Director of Technology
San Francisco, CA
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