Beyond Big Ideas Fest: Featuring Tara Jahn


We love having educators come to Big Ideas Fest for the first time. When they come back year after year and bring their colleagues, it's even better. We caught up with Colorado Education Initiative's Tara Jahn @Tara_Jahn to see how she has been incorporating the things she has learned at Big Ideas Fest through the years.


How did you first come to attend Big Ideas Fest?

The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) is an independent statewide nonprofit that supports education innovation by training educators to be changemakers in their school communities. We began to identify design thinking as a route to accomplish both the discovery of innovative solutions to “sticky challenges” as well as a way to support educators building their creative confidence and collaboration skills to personalize learning. We found Big Ideas Fest through a search for design thinking conferences. The first year I was the only staff to attend, but on account of my great experience, the following year I returned with a team of seven colleagues. Then the following year we were able to send myself and two others to the ISKME Action Collab facilitator training.

How have you been using what you learned and experienced at Big Ideas Fest in your work? 

Upon returning to my organization from my first experience at Big Ideas Fest, what struck me most were the lessons I took from it about the culture of the event. From the program to the buttonology to the full program, it created a sense of intentional culture setting in addition to the content being delivered. In my role at CEI, I used this experience to influence how our organization creates and delivered professional learning experiences for educators.

From a content perspective, my training in design thinking, improv and group facilitation were greatly improved by my participation in Big Ideas Fest and in the subsequent Action Collab facilitation training I attended. I was able to learn specific skills, mindsets and processes to bring back to my organization and immediately employ.

You have continued to bring colleagues to Big Ideas Fest. What was it that you shared with them that encouraged them to also attend?

I did bring colleagues and I did so initially to experience the culture and the organization of the event and then I brought a different set of colleagues to the facilitator training to build our skills and learn a tool we could use with educators.

Can you share a highlight from Big Ideas Fest that illustrates how it has impacted your work? 

I remember feeling like I was a part of something. The first year I attended… the way my group had to work together, how I was pushed beyond my comfort zone, and the excitement I brought back with me to my organization…all of it made me feel like I had experienced something special.


Photo credit: By Mimi Giboin [CC BY-SA (]

July 26, 2016