If you want to build the skills and mindsets to be a transformative leader in education, become an EP Fellow. Learn more about the Fellowship experience and then apply by December 18, 2017 for priority round consideration for the EP Summer Fellowship.
Senior Director, Learning Design
Education Pioneers does more than recruit talented professionals and connect them with our partners in education. We provide 10 weeks of leadership development programming to help our Fellows dive into the key issues going on in education and support them to become lifelong education leaders.
In 2016, EP updated our programming model to better serve our Fellows and our Partners. EP Senior Director of Learning Design, Lisa Munoz, answers questions about what’s different – and the experience we look forward to offering to our Fellows.
Why does EP provide programming as part of the EP Fellowship?
We work hard to match our Fellows with the right education organization and project for their skills and experiences, but that’s just half of the EP Fellowship.
The other half is the 10 weeks of programming we offer, which is designed to help our Fellows succeed in their Fellowship, support their leadership careers in education, and ensure they become advocates of EP and our collective work on behalf of our nation’s students.
What’s the goal of programming?
We have three overarching programmatic goals. The first is to make sure that, after Fellows are placed, they have a network of support, especially if they are new to the education sector. We want our Fellows to connect with others so they can share and problem-solve outside of their placement. We work to make sure they connect with people who have similar and different specializations (like those who are data analysts or marketing experts). We are working to strengthen the networking piece so our Pioneers find lifelong support within our network.
Our second goal is to give a broad overview of the K-12 education landscape, to ensure all of our Fellows have baseline knowledge of the sector, where it is today, and how they can make an impact on education through EP. We link the opportunity gap and EP’s organizational mission of supporting all students. And we put an emphasis of discussing how to support students and communities of color.
Our Fellows are exposed to a lens and mindset of serving all kids to work on behalf of equity and opportunity for students and communities. Regardless of your experience in education, EP Fellowship programming is a great way to talk about what it takes to be a transformative leader in education.
Third, we focus on honing leadership that is grounded in self-awareness. How do Fellows continue to be self-aware of the skills, knowledge and mindsets they need to develop in themselves? We work to help them understand their own backgrounds and how their experiences can either help or hinder them as they serve all kids – especially underserved students who are often low-income students and students of color. For example, we offer a webinar on implicit bias that has been very well-received by our Fellows.
What’s unique about EP’s Fellowship programming?
Our programming tackles topics that are not very common in other professional development programs. We enable leaders to have conversations on where they are in their journey of understanding the issues faced by kids and communities of color and how they can help serve different communities, especially when they are serving communities with different experiences than their own.
What I hear from Fellows is they appreciate the cohort experience – spending time together, and having difficult conversations around race, equity, and privilege. You hear folks say, “I’ve never had this kind of conversation with people beyond my close friends and family, in a professional setting. I’ve never put the equity lens to all of my work.”
I also hear that there is something about our Fellows themselves – something about the folks we recruit who have such a passion around service, and a commitment to underserved communities.
This is the first year of new Fellowship programming. What’s new or different, and why did you make those changes?
I believe we now offer a higher-level, more consistent experience for all of our Fellows around the country. We had heard feedback from some previous Fellows that our programming felt disjointed and there wasn’t a strong enough through-line of the opportunity gap. They also wanted programming that was unique to EP.
So we honed in on our three programming goals, aligned all of our curriculum around them, and strengthened the conversations around the opportunity gap. We also have hired several passionate EP staff members with expertise in adult learning to plan and facilitate our programming.
We also added more virtual learning experiences as part of the programming, including three webinars on networking, implicit bias, and the K-12 opportunity gap to enhance the conversations happening in the workshops. Virtual learning has allowed us to offer broader programming, such as virtual panels with national experts and EP Alumni. We’re also exploring using virtual programming to connect our current Fellows with a network outside of their cohort – with EP Alumni, EP staff, our Partners, funders, and more. We want them to build a sense of community before they go into their workshops.
How did you choose the three main topic areas covered in EP’s programming?
It was a process to choose these three topics. We went through a lot of white papers, and asked ourselves to think about what makes EP unique. As we reviewed previous EP survey data, Fellow feedback, and our previous white papers, such as Masters of Complexity: Leading Effectively in Public Education, and EP’s Theory of Action, we saw these three themes over and over again.
What skillsets or mindsets do EP Fellows learn to become transformative leaders in education?
When Fellows dive into the opportunity gap, you talk about where you are, hear leadership stories from others, and learn about the mindset of being able to share your own leadership story and be vulnerable regardless of the background you have. No matter your own school and personal experiences, it’s critical to have an understanding of and empathy for others’ experiences. There is something that prompted each of our Fellows to be in this work, and we explore that in the Fellowship.
When we talk about the K-12 education landscape, we understand the challenges of serving as a leader in the landscape, including how to problem-solve and how to leverage your network to lead more effectively. We build the awareness around skillsets and mindsets needed to be in education leadership for the long haul.
We’ve also added more focus on change management – understanding that changing the education sector requires a number of skills specific to change management. We talk about community organizing, and how to be inclusive and work closely with communities to be a transformative leader.
Being a transformative leader might mean chipping away at one thing, and that is OK. It takes many of us chipping away at different pieces. We talk about the contributions that leaders can make in a short period of time while they are Fellows, and then shift our mindsets to, “what is my long-term impact?” We ask all Fellows: “How are you going to prepare yourself beyond the Fellowship, and stay connected to your professional and leadership development?” We want our Fellows to seek and stay in long-term education leadership careers to effect change for kids.