“We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”
– Ella’s Song by Bernice Johnson Reagan, Sweet Honey in the Rock
As ISTE begins its fifth decade, I’ve been reflecting on our journey, impact and the path ahead. From reaching tens of thousands of educators around the world each year to the broader and exponential impact of your learning, leadership and innovation with and for students, there’s much to celebrate. And, as the adage goes, we’ve come a long way, yet we have a long way to go.
It’s not enough for us to rest on our successes and progress. Collectively, we’re pursuing something greater. Whether you define “freedom” as an excellent education, student and community access to emerging technologies, best-in class professional development, equity for all learners, next-level digital citizenship or something else, we can’t rest until it comes.
As I’m getting to know the ISTE community, one thing is certain. We don’t fit the “rest-on-our-laurels” mold! From transformational learning experiences to countless hours of collaboration and peer-led volunteering alongside the work you do everyday, this community is powerful, active and walking the talk of our mission to transform teaching and learning, accelerate innovation and solve tough problems in education. It’s incredible to bear witness to our impact.
But we can’t achieve our mission alone. Within and beyond our community, we need to link arms to pursue and realize transformation together.
You may be thinking, this sounds good in theory, but what does “linking arms” actually mean in practice? Here are a few starting points.
Boldly own your role as a change-maker. If you’re reading this article, you’re far from mediocre. You’re a prime mover, early adopter, influencer and active leader. You’re doing the work of transforming education, day in and day out, and often in the unseen moments. If you haven’t heard it lately, thank you! Thank you for being a change-maker and being a part of the ISTE community. We’re glad you’re here, and we’re eager to engage with you more deeply.
Speaking of deeper engagement, take a step to connect with our community in a new and meaningful way. Join an ISTE professional learning network (PLN), volunteer at an ISTE event or connect on social media. Consider mentoring fellow educators or pitching an at-scale idea. We’re eager to elevate and fuel leadership and collaboration within and beyond the community.
Share community connections, promising practices and partnership opportunities. In the past few years alone, more than 500,000 leaders have engaged with ISTE through learning experiences, products, services and professional development, but we’re only in deep community with a small fraction of that group. Let’s work together to change that.
On the staff side, I’m thrilled to lead the membership and partnership team in our mission to engage and collaborate with the broader education community, but we need your help to make this happen. Connect with me using @rhondadford on Twitter. Make an introduction. Share some feedback. And, most importantly, stay with us in pursuit of our mission – and freedom.
Rhonda Ford is ISTE's chief of membership and partnerships. (Photo by Eden Hansen)