Three years ago, I sat down to write my first article for Empowered Learner as the incoming ISTE board president. I was about to take the leadership reins of an organization that had guided and supported me throughout my career. In that article, “We’re all in beta – together,” I referenced many of the opportunities and services ISTE was offering to support our members, and how I saw powerful changes in our futures. Little did I know the extent to which these “powerful changes” would impact our lives.
Obviously, the most memorable and widespread change for all of us is COVID-19 and the response by schools over the last two years. Regardless of your position, region or experience, this was a change that impacted us all. The disruption to our daily classroom way of life was unprecedented. I think we can all agree we’ve had a rough go of it.
Throughout our entire experience, the global ISTE community stepped up and made an impact on our educational systems, all in the name of doing what we needed to do for our students. I'm in awe of the work I’ve seen from teachers and the commitment they have to their students. As hard as it has been, we’ve seen our field rise to the occasion. Was it perfect? No! Was it ridiculous, difficult, but ultimately amazing? YES!
However, there is an urgency to our response that especially holds true today. Our schools, communities and students need us to make a difference for them, and they need it now. “Getting back to normal” can’t be our goal. Getting to a place where we serve all of our students has to be the goal.
We have an opportunity to reimagine our future and plan for what we want and need, not just accept what we inherited. The opportunity is here, but it will take learning, leadership and intentional design if we are to truly take advantage of it.
Here’s the good news: ISTE is here for you. Here to help you learn from each other, here to provide guidance and support, and here to bolster you when you need encouragement. During the pandemic, we have managed to put on two amazing virtual ISTELive events, developed partnerships with other organizations around initiatives like #DigCitCommit, and brought focus and transparency to the ever-present equity gaps we find in our schools. ISTE is here to help you grow, change and amplify the voices of educators around the world to create better experiences for our students. It’s an organization that exists for you, and will continue to help you solve tough problems in education.
This is one of the many reasons I’ve dedicated so much of my time and energy to the work of ISTE throughout my career. As an organization, we’re an innovative group that simply can’t be stopped. The field of education always seems to have twists, turns and priority changes, and as educators, we’re often just trying to keep up. However, even in that “keeping up,” we find comfort, support and clarity when we rely on each other to navigate this ever-changing world. We, as members, are ISTE. We are the heart of the organization, and I’m proud of the work we do every day.
My time on the board came to an end this month. It has been an amazing ride, and I will cherish the experiences and family that I’ve met along the way. The urgency we faced three years ago will continue for us as we work through our current and future realities. ISTE is made up of dedicated members who have been leading change for more than 40 years, and will continue to do so into the future.
Thank you for your commitment to education, your students and fellow educators. Through all of the strife and uncertainty we’ve endured, the ISTE community continues to grow and thrive because of each of you. We are truly still all in beta.
Bill Bass is a former ISTE Board of Directors president and head of innovation at Parkway School District in Missouri.