Last week, DelawareCAN hosted the first ever TEDxWilmingtonED event, “Education Possible.” Over 300 people gathered for the series of talks, and over 600 joined virtually via livestream. Throughout the full day of programming, a mix of local educators, parents, community leaders, and regional and national thought leaders shared their unique perspectives on issues in education. Topics included special education, authenticity, education pluralism, prayer, classroom innovations, and more. (Check out photos from the day here.)
Other advocates interested in leveraging this type of platform might benefit from some key insights and lessons learned by DelawareCAN as they went through the process for the first time:
- The TEDx brand is helpful. It attracts people—both speakers and audience members—which helps in raising awareness and building a substantial program. The TEDxWilmington team (separate from DelawareCAN) was also a huge support. It can be beneficial to seek out and build a relationship with an existing infrastructure and license holder in your area.
- Choose a theme deliberately. “Education Possible” sought to directly challenge the notion that some kids aren’t educable and to provide examples of educators getting results.
- Give more people a platform. This approach and structure provided an opportunity to go beyond the “usual suspects” in education reform discussions and broaden the tent for more voices to be heard.
- Related, the broad call for perspectives meant there was much more diversity in the room than other education reform forums. This included diversity of race, ethnicity, background, experience, perspective, and more.
- You can cultivate relationships by reaching out to others that have a different point of view, and actually giving them the mic. This is a great first step in establishing trust and strong working relationships (even with people you don’t agree with).
- Delaware is small. This event helped to put the First State on the map in the broader landscape of funders and influencers.
- Some of the conversations about race and equity caused some discomfort. That’s not usually the “Delaware Way,” but the event organizers were ok with that.