#Eval15 Week: Sheila B Robinson on the Journey from Failure to Exemplar and Back!

Hello All! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and very tired conference-goer, sharing some closing thoughts from some of evaluation’s thought leaders.

Today we celebrated the end of #Eval15 week in song,* much the same way as we have in past years. Throughout the week we listened, we learned, we observed, we met, and we networked. We (5000 of us, that is) did so from near (on site) and far (online). The tweeters tweeted and the bloggers blogged. They too, were conference presenters as they generously shared their learning throughout the week.

Lesson Learned: Reflect on failing and failures. This morning began with a session that could (should?) have been a plenary as the presenters and members of the audience bravely shared their evaluation-related failures and acknowledged learning from what doesn’t work. Executed with dignity and decorum, yet pleasantly peppered with lighthearted humor, the session with presenters Leslie Cooksy, Michael Morris, Stephanie Evergreen, and Michael Quinn Patton created a safe and welcoming space for imperfection and fallibility at a conference celebrating the exemplary.

Express gratitude. The closing plenary on exemplary evaluation featured numerous evaluation glitterati, each of whom shared important messages about our collective learning about exemplary evaluation, but several of them also reflected on the importance of expressing gratitude. Tessie Catsambas shared that the most important thing to her is to express gratitude for spaces such as what we’ve created here with AEA for democratic and inclusive thinking. Ashaki Jackson expressed gratitude for those who attended sessions on culturally responsive evaluation and an interest in learning more about CRE.

Identify the key take-aways (and use them!). Maria Bustelo reflected on this diverse and rich community and ways to accommodate different perspectives and approaches to evaluation, while Stafford Hood expressed hope that evaluation may someday serve as a conduit for change and social justice. Janet Clinton admitted that the elevation of evaluation and the work we need to do in order to move forward scares her but that we need to be able to describe the pathway from proficient to exemplary, and David Fetterman talked about the importance of translating what we learn into practice and urged us to become more engaged in the communities with which we work. And finally, Michael Quinn Patton encouraged us to position ourselves as part of a larger profession and to develop our elevator speeches to include the declaration, “I’m a member of an international evaluation community.”

Rad Resource: Take the time to revisit your own conference notes, #eval15 tweets, evaluation blogs, session recordings, and materials shared in the AEA public eLibrary to enhance, extend, and continue your learning. See you next year in Atlanta!

*Will someone please collect all of these songs into an evaluation songbook?

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “#Eval15 Week: Sheila B Robinson on the Journey from Failure to Exemplar and Back!”

  1. Sheila,
    Tremendous summary of conference highlights. Just excellent. Thanks for all you do for AEA and our international community.

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