What Do We Value At EP, And What Are We Willing To Do About It?

We know that Education Pioneers (EP) and the education sector as a whole are steeped in a history we need to understand. This history includes systems and structures for us to investigate, interrogate, and sometimes decenter or dismantle so that we ensure every student has the opportunity to reach their full potential when they’re in K-12, and beyond.

As education professionals, it is incredibly important that we do this work as a part of living our core values: who we are and what we value impacts how we show up at work – in how we lead, in our daily interactions, and in how we manage others. This is especially true when we work on behalf of improving our nation’s education system – a system that is built to disadvantage children of color. We have a moral responsibility to raise our voices and come together to advance justice on behalf of those who we serve.

One of EP’s values is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion so we can continually be a better, more equitable and inclusive organization in this work. We also don’t do this work alone. We regularly wrestle with our work and our impact related to these important topics alongside our partners across the country.

This is why I was so excited and inspired to be in Washington, DC in February alongside a group of 12 EP colleagues to start a year-long experience with oneTILT, our new partner in learning. oneTILT helps leaders expand their impact through self-reflection, dialogue, and action around race, equity, and inclusiveness.

The goal of our partnership is to build this team’s skills in leadership and people management (both individually and collectively) through a lens of equity and innovation. In addition to our initial convening with oneTILT, we’ll be working together throughout the year with ongoing development opportunities.

A member of the EP team who participated, Elliot Luscombe, Director of Fellowship Recruitment, shared his thoughts about his initial oneTILT experience:

The conversations we had as a team left me inspired by the importance of self-reflection as a leader in education. With the pace of work, carving out time to reflect on my week, day, or meetings that I run - I’ll admit reflecting on how I lead can be hard to situate as priorities. But it better enables me to give and receive more effective feedback as a team leader, creating a more inclusive space for my team’s work process (and outcomes).

I’m also walking away from our time thinking more about “fear of conflict” as an element in our white dominant culture and what it looks like to be an active disrupter. For example, if I withhold feedback because either I’m uncomfortable giving it or I’m worried someone else might be uncomfortable receiving it, it will not lead to meaningful change.

The biggest question I’m thinking about is, “what is in my control to change?” This resonates in my work here at EP, in the education sector, and beyond, and has manifested in some interesting ways. For example, I thought I spoke in “I” statements frequently yet realized how much I use the word “we” to describe challenges we’re facing. That focus on “we,” in this case, actually masks what is in my control - my agency - to confront our challenges and examine my own behavior.

It’s also important to hear why this work matters from oneTILT’s perspective, and Kimberly Diaz and Andrew Daub of oneTILT reflected here:

It’s one thing to set a priority of diversity, equity, and inclusion and another thing to actually live it out in the day to day, in your check-ins and team meetings, in your strategic plans, in easy moments and hard, in your everyday practice. We’re thrilled to be working with an organization like Education Pioneers that practices what they preach. At oneTILT, we help organizations actualize their commitment to diversity through workshops, coaching, and long term engagements.

While in DC, we engaged in reflection, we pushed each others’ thinking, we learned frameworks and built concrete skills. We ultimately put everything we learned together to make movement on a meaty issue in their work: racial diversity in senior leadership. That’s what you can expect from work with oneTILT: deep reflection to get to a place of concrete action (we also have fun, too!).

We’re excited to continue supporting this team over the coming months as we carry our conversation into the weeds of their work, all on the path toward making diversity, equity, and inclusion everyday action at Education Pioneers.

Making this kind of investment in our leaders in this way is providing them with the valuable gift of time, the learning that comes from being with a team in-person, and the permission to bring themselves to this work fully, with open minds and open hearts. They will be able to expand their thinking, and try new things, allowing them to influence and develop those around them fluently and with supreme care and authenticity.

This work can be messy. It is going to go back and forth. But we are committed to going through it as an organization because we value what we’re working towards. It is building EP leaders to work in leading systems-wide change through a lens of equity and inclusion to truly make a difference. One tiny inclusive little thing at a time.

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