Trust. It’s a simple word, but it packs a punch. Trust has so many layers of impact on our work. It connects to each of us personally, to our partnerships with districts, and to how we accomplish our mission and make an impact as a company.
I can trace it all the way back to when I started with e2L.
Every one of us took a leap of faith when we joined the team. The work engage2learn does means something. It affects kids in ways you hear of in stories that go viral. When the beliefs that drive this work mesh with your own so well, why wouldn’t you want to join the cause?
Still, leaving an amazing position in a great district was scary. It was not a decision to be taken lightly. In true analytical Jill style, it weighed heavily on my mind. In the end, even though I had a funny feeling that my work in the district wasn’t done (and I’d find out later I was right), my heart was sending me a clear message. I felt called to join engage2learn. So, I trusted my gut, took the leap, and I’m so thankful I did.
When I got here, I started seeing so many places where trust applied. Districts trust us with the lives of their kids. Our partners take a leap of faith when they decide we’re on this journey together. We know we can count on our processes to grow teachers and kids, because we’ve seen it happen over and over. When districts first partner with us, though, they haven’t yet seen it. They paint a picture of their vision, and they trust us to guide them as it comes to life, even though they don’t know what the journey will look like - and the challenges they will face.
We’re talking about shifting the culture. That isn’t easy. When you see people being challenged, it’s human nature to want to rescue them. However, shifting the culture shift requires changing people’s behaviors. Cognitive dissonance leads to a change in behaviors and is why we believe so much in immersive training and are willing to see it through - we know what growth and realizations wait on the other side. We’ve seen it.
In the beginning, districts haven’t. Sometimes we hear, “Our people are getting challenged, so let’s make it easier for them.” That’s when trust is more important than ever. Remember, we’re changing the culture. What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.
The hardest struggles feel the best when we overcome them. Every now and then we have to ask, “Do you trust us?” We’re so thankful that districts do. Then, they will soon see what we always see on the other side - that beautiful picture of their local vision coming to life.
Just as our districts trust us to guide them through their journey, we all trust Shannon, our CEO, to steer us in the direction where we’ll make the most powerful impact on students. When Shannon first introduced the idea of the districts designing their own learning framework, at a time when we were seeing kids grow in unimaginable ways, some of us wondered if perhaps she had missed thinking through that decision. In fact, I remember Lauren and I texting her about the amazing stories we heard from our districts and how surely we were doing something right if districts were seeing those outcomes.
Even though we didn’t know at the time that her thinking was on point, we trusted our leader. She saw what we didn’t yet see: the district and local community can unite to design the learner experience that’s meant just for their kids. How powerful is that? She was right, too. Those stories we heard before about how districts’ kids, teachers, and leaders have grown? They’ve only multiplied. I’m so thankful that we continue to trust Shannon.
When we work to serve kids whose needs are evolving more rapidly than ever, we can’t always see what the future will hold. At engage2learn, we continually iterate so we can meet those needs, and since it happens so quickly - sometimes quicker than we can wrap our heads around it - we have to trust. Even in our careers as educators, we set goals for ourselves and strive to meet them, but when we come to engage2learn, we really have to put that to the side. With an empathy-driven approach centered around the needs of learners, it’s impossible to know where we’ll be in 5 years. And that’s okay. One thing my years at e2L have taught me is that, no matter what happens, I trust it will be great.