Sunday, August 26, 2007

One year ago today, I was settling into a hotel room in Boston anxiously awaiting my first day of work at Bridgespan. It feels like its been longer than that.

I remember worrying about whether I could cut it as a consultant. Whether I'd be smart enough, likable enough, and of course, whether I'd wear the right shoes. I wondered if Bridgespan was the right job for me and whether I was right for it.

A year has passed and I realize that I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it - people like me! I feel like the consultant position at Bridgespan fits me like a glove and I believe I'm a valuable member of the team. And I KNOW I'm wearing the right shoes.

Despite my love for the job, the commitment to the causes we serve, and the pure adoration for the people I work with, this year has not been without its challenges. Consulting and its lingo and frameworks is not a natural state of being. I'm still learning a lot - which is great. But I still worry that I may not be learning fast enough or that my approach to the work might not be "consulting-ey" enough. I guess no matter where you are or what you do, life isn't without its anxieties.

In addition to the case in early learning, I just got staffed to an education case. We're working with a charter management organization (CMO). Bridgespan does a lot of education work, but this is my first foray into the K-12 world. My work stream (which just means the part of the case I'm working on) includes looking at school performance data. It was shocking to me to learn how poorly schools all over the country were doing. Don't get me wrong - I knew schools were bad but I had no CLUE how few kids graduate or can pass a standardized math test or have a chance of getting a college education. The stats are incredibly scary. And I also wonder about the data we collect on kids. The data I've been looking at is all about test scores - but is that the point of school really? It reminds me of the grade non-disclosure debate at Wharton (whatever happened with that - it's funny how something you care passionately about can fade from view over time... out of sight out of mind I guess). Are those who do the best on tests the ones who received the best and most fulfilling education?

But like I said - I'm completely new to the ed space. Who knows? Maybe what I learn over the coming months will make me a believer in the proof that tests matters most. Maybe I shouldn't say this, but I hope not.


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