One Day Down, a Lifetime of Innovation to Go!

I am currently sitting in my hotel room overwhelmed by our first day in California.  We started off the morning having Fellows design their ideal schools and identify what their personal and collective learning goals are.  In a short period of time, they were able to deeply articulate the needs of their students, schools, and communities.  They pushed the EIF team by asking challenging questions around implementation and realization.  These questions were so exciting because they illustrated that our Fellows are not here to simply theorize and dream; they are here to change the educational landscape in D.C. in a transformative way, and they want to start NOW!

After spending the morning context setting for the week, we hopped on the bus and rode over to the d.School at Stanford University.  Our hosts, Katie and Gabrielle, walked us through the design process, and by the end of the session, Fellows were already using the design process to address real issues that they are currently facing in their classrooms!  It was incredible to start seeing their mindsets and thinking patterns change on the very first day.

We had some incredible leadership stories interspersed throughout the day.  Emily Hueber, Diane Johnson, Adam Zimmerman, and Alex Brown really set the tone for leadership stories this year.  They were extremely personal, thoughtful, and inspiring.  I felt honored to be in a space where teachers who are just getting to know each other felt so comfortable being vulnerable around their peers and really speaking their truth because they trust that the visions and desires of the group are aligned.

I could really feel the energy today, and I am so pumped that I get to spend a year working closely with these incredible people.  These teachers are top-notch, and the possibilities are limitless for this cohort!  I am feeling reenergized and reminded of why we do this work every day.  Our Fellows are the future of innovative D.C. school models, and I feel blessed that I get to play a small part in that.  The week has only begun, and it just gets better from here!

Arielle Ford, Program Assistant, Education Innovation Portfolio
CityBridge Foundation

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And we’re off!

I am currently cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet and am surrounded by strangers, colleagues, and most importantly of all, the 2015 cohort of Education Innovation Fellows.  We are on a mission to be inspired by school leaders, experts, researchers, and students who are leading the charge in the field of personalized and blended learning. Our secondary and equally important mission is to share our experiences with everyone back in D.C.—from family members to school leaders, colleagues, and anyone else who is searching for a way to provide a better learning experience for students.

This group of teachers has signed up for a year of discovery and an opportunity to better meet the needs of their students across all eight wards of Washington, D.C. The first third of our program year (January through April) is focused on exposing the Fellows to what is possible when you reimagine what classrooms can look like. This is why, for the next five days, we will speak with a handful of thought leaders (Gisele Huff of the Jacqueline Hume Foundation, Greg Klein of the Rogers Family Foundation, Shauntel Paulson of NewSchools Venture Fund, and Brian Greenberg of Silicon Schools Fund), demo five edtech products (NewsELA, Engrade, GameDesk, Zaption, and Nearpod), and visit ten schools across the Bay Area and Los Angeles:

Since December, our team has been planning every minute of this trip, from hotel reservations to facilitation guides for speakers to the meals that we will have across the week. You might think that I am already exhausted, but rather, I am more excited than ever! This year, we selected an all-star class of Fellows, and they have already set the bar high. Their thoughtfulness, humility, and passion for their students is tangible and quite contagious. Despite the rockstar lineup that we have for the week, I am most looking forward to connecting with each Fellow so that I can better understand what drives them to teach every day.

It is going to be an exciting and mind-blowing week. We invite you to follow this blog for an intimate view of our lightbulb moments, our frustrations, and our celebrations of success for the duration of the trip and the program year.

Lauren Bryant, Program Manager, Education Innovation Portfolio
CityBridge Foundation

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