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Connect, Cherish, Celebrate

Just imagine if you were asked what you wanted to do for triskderopa. Right!?!?!? Your first thought isn’t to all the things you want and need while simultaneously being overjoyed that someone cared enough to ask you. Instead, you’re thorn. Dear in the headlights. Not sure what you want but have experience with what you don’t want. We are at a time where “community” feels like this. There are all kinds of things we can blame. Tell me a time the blame game supported forward progression. I’ll wait. Ahem Still waiting. Exactly. Also, triskderopa is a made up word. 

Let’s not forget we are people. People need to be connected. People need to feel cherished. People need to be celebrated. Darling, you deserve all of this. 

Community engagement and outreach are constant work. Valuable and needed work, but constant work. What connected people once might not be connecting them today. Part of cherishing your community is the constant reflection of what is working and needs assessment. Take the time to work through what connecting, cherishing, and celebrating can look like. Feel free to be selfish. What do you wish was done for you? What would help you grow? What would help your day be better? Here are some possibilities to think on:

Then go deeper. Yep, more work. Create some How Might We (HWM) questions. Then, be kind, and select three to focus on. How might we create safe spaces for teams to organically connect on new projects? How might we provide mentorship for new and veteran educators? How might we design engaging virtual openings that build community connections?

Once you create possibilities for your HMWs look at the lift. What is easy and can be done with minimal effort? What needs more time, energy, and money? Start with whichever makes your heart happiest. Can you generate MTO (Minimal, Target, Outrageous) goals? Of course, we have to celebrate the process. Three tiers of celebrations!

In practice: How Might We make our community feel valued and wanted? Possibilities: Reach out to members, members only events, member swag, member priority registration for limited seating. My team decides to start with an easy lift and selects reach out to members. MTO goals: Minimal = 3 people a week, Target = 5 people a week, Outrageous = 7 people a week. Further thinking includes the how and making a plan of action. Perhaps you do this every Monday morning. Maybe this is one person a day as you go for an evening walk. If you want interaction, really think of your medium choice. A phone call is much more interactive than a bcc email. Note: an email you would want to use bcc on doesn’t count as a personal reach out.

Little shifts are huge ripples. How might we create more engagement with introductions?

Sitting through 15 minutes of introductions about where you are from yawn. I care but I don’t care. Shift that to share the project you are working on and what you hope comes from it. Now the speaker is excited. After all, they know what state they are from. The listeners will start making connections, offer suggestions, and continue a conversation at a later time. When every minute is valuable, how is that minute helping with the mission of the community?

Huge gratitude for reading and thinking about how to increase your community engagement and outreach. Major confetti!!!

About the Author

Katie McNamara serves as a teacher librarian at a public high school in California, director of the Teacher Librarian Program at Fresno Pacific University, and various EDU boards. Katie has authored contributing chapters and published many journal articles. She has won numerous awards for being innovative and sharing content.

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