It’s Tuesday night at 12:30 AM and I just finished work.
This IAP, I (Evan) am working at Project Invent — a non-profit started by an MIT alum bringing design-thinking and real world impact to the hands of high school students. For the last two days I’ve been reading, and writing, and thinking about what Project Invent is and how to bring it to mentors and students everywhere. This means getting ~15 book recommendations, reading through an ESP-sized Google Drive, writing the same blurb 25 times until it sounds (possibly) better, and lots and lots of thinking to no end about what we can do better and how we can do it.
My particular project is “How can we better get the word out about Project Invent?” (where better is defined a yet-to-be-determined metric), and I’ve spent a good amount of the last two days thinking about this — thinking about how to break this problem down into smaller parts, thinking about who are the greatest influencers for educators, thinking about the best pitch we can make to potential mentors, thinking about how teachers look for new resources or opportunities for their students, and so much more! I think I have yet to finish a day before 10 PM (though to be fair, I start late, and take food and football breaks), but if you know me, I’ve loved it.
Over the next month, I hope to share with you all some of my reflections and thoughts on the problems we face at Project Invent, the workings of non-profits, and education in general.
To hopefully prevent my post from becoming too long, I’ll try to limit myself to
two one topic s today.
ESP is for real.
I think I actually started having this realization before I landed in California, but in some sense, non-profits are the grown up version of ESP. A lot of the work we do in ESP directly translates to useful work at Project Invent (at least so far). Being able to do things from writing professional emails, understanding complex systems, writing effective website text, to creatively reaching potential mentors are the workhorses of getting Project Invent up and running. I think everything I’ve done in ESP has trained me to jump right in and make a positive impact at Project Invent.
Conversely, this also means that ESP does real work. Though we may have lower standards and less time than the average non-profit, we’re doing the same work and, just like lots of them, making a real impact on the world.
I think when we’re reviewing classes at Scheduling Weekend, doing work at an HSSP, or even running around on a Splash, it’s easy to forget how awesome this really is. ESP isn’t just a club where we compete in a made-up competition or do fake simulations. The work we do can really change the lives of students and teachers — it’s work with an impact others wish they could make.
2 thoughts on “Late Nights”
‘ve been having the realization of the transferrability of skills a few times over the past few years and it only ever really dawns on me when I do something different, something that doesn’t involve the “cushion” that is the institutional knowledge ESP has. It happens when you have to recruit for something and immediately see that a strategy will not be effective. I had to be interviewed for a tutoring job once and they basically asked the HSSP/Cascade/Junction questions. After interviewing other teachers so many times I couldn’t help but keep chuckling internally the whole time (I hope that didn’t come off as weird). I particularly enjoyed the five minute teaching sample.
Which makes me wonder if we can expect this realization to come naturally to all admins eventually or if we could think about ways to make it more apparent to ourselves and to other people like employers etc.
If I look at all of the things that ESP does with my snake-tinted glasses, the things that ESP does are insanely relevant to the real world. Organizing logistics for thousands of students and hundreds of teachers? Designing and redesigning programs to better address the educational needs of those that participate? Outreach to thousands of potential students and teachers? Building specs for websites to be used by thousands of people?
I think one of the reasons it’s not apparent to ourselves is that people don’t join ESP to learn skills that are marketable and transferrable in the real world. We’re not like other clubs, in that people don’t join to learn how to do X and get skills to succeed in job Y. People join because they care about education and the joy of learning and teaching, because friends dragged them in, because of juice, whatever. And then later, they realize that all of this work is *actually* for real.
While having all of these real-life skills is just a natural consequence of ESP work, I think ESP culture is cool because it’s the *byproduct* of things that we do, not the *main reason* that we do things. (Although I suppose it’s a part of our value of “Be an ESPhamily” – “and we promote the growth of admins, both in terms of their skills and as people.”)