What makes a person an evaluator?
Is it the job they do? Is it the training they received in grad school? Is it through membership in a big professional association like AEA? Is it because they’ve taken enough courses and paid enough money to get a certificate from somewhere like the Evaluators’ Institute? Did they pass a test and get a professional designation?
Or is it something deeper, more personal. An artist can be an artist without ever selling a painting, can the same be true for an evaluator?
I don’t have those answers.
Really, it’s weird that I draw evaluation cartoons.
My career has been a mix of professions. Over the past few years I have spent far more time designing/developing digital content, devising online strategies, and facilitating virtual communities of practice than I have evaluating anything.
I studied sociology in grad school. Most of my evaluation knowledge is self taught or drawn from personal experience.
I have only published an evaluation journal article once, and that was years ago now. Occasionally I’ll pick up a journal and skim an article or two. But only to try and get inspiration for more cartoons.
I can’t help but feel like an imposter. Or at least I would if the evaluation community wasn’t so welcoming. And that’s really what’s kept me here over the years, the people.
When I connect with my evaluation friends I learn new things. They notice stuff that other people don’t notice. They go deeper down rabbit holes when most other people would just let it go.
Evaluation is such a diverse field, with all sorts of people doing all sorts of interesting things. But when hanging out with evaluators I feel a sense of shared spirit, of belonging, that I don’t get when I join friends in other fields.
In all my other fields, people just seem to be so busy doing things. And they seem to spend a lot less time reflecting on what it is they are trying to accomplish.
It’s in the times that I’ve ventured into other communities that I’ve felt the most like an evaluator. Sure I could fit in talking UX design, developer-speak, social media stuff, entrepreneurship, or eLearning. But in all of those spaces I couldn’t help but notice questions that weren’t being answered. Or often, the questions that weren’t even being asked.
Today, June 2, at 2PM Eastern.
So this afternoon I’m starting something new.
It’s a series of networking sessions for evaluation people. I talked a little about it in last week’s post: Awkward Evaluation Networking.
Not sure what you’re up to this afternoon, but I’ll hope you’ll consider joining us.