C!E Practice Areas
Equity-Seeking Learning Community Stewardship
The work of systems transformation is long and difficult. Those advancing it can find sustenance in community with like-minded peers. Peer communities gather for all kinds of purposes, but a learning community is especially oriented around a shared set of questions - called a learning agenda - and serves as a safe space for peers to surface vexing problems, share hard-earned lessons, and inspire new solutions that each member can adapt in their own context. In doing so, learning communities expand the capacity of each member to carry out systems change. Further, learning communities add legitimacy to the work by connecting similar efforts across separate contexts into a broader movement.
C!E stewards learning communities that hold equity-seeking learning agendas, meaning their members are united in transforming education systems toward new visions that foster agency, belonging, and opportunity for children and communities least served, to the ultimate benefit of all Americans. We support learning communities in regular reflection and learning from one another’s successes and challenges by creating spaces of mutual trust in which members share insights and increase each others’ capacity to seek equity in their local contexts.
We also support movement of learning across communities that work at different system levels (for example, practitioners and state policymakers) or on different, but complementary, areas of focus. By spanning boundaries, we help increase pressure for full-scale systems change.
Importantly, when we steward equity-seeking learning communities, we are attentive to how those communities gather, believing that how we do the work shapes the work itself. In other words, if the learning communities are to bring about equity-seeking change, we should also seek equity in the way we gather. That means careful cultivation of spaces that are inclusive; that notice and disrupt unfair patterns in who gets invited and whose voices hold sway; that encourage vulnerability; and that foster relationships and trust across lines of difference.
Place-Based Inclusive Co-Creation
Improving systems requires not just new ideas but also shared investment and ability to execute on them. And in complex social systems like public education - which different people experience in different ways and sometimes hold fundamentally different beliefs about its purpose - there are no pre-packaged, silver-bullet solutions that can be handed down by experts. Instead, advancements are made by marshaling the collective wisdom and capabilities of diverse actors across the whole system - whether state or local - to find emerging solutions. Changes must be owned by, not imposed on, those most impacted by them in order to achieve meaningful shifts in system behavior, culture, and outcomes.
Through the practice of Inclusive Co-Creation, we support coalitions of diverse stakeholders who gather to collaboratively design parts of the education system that impact all of them - such as a strategic plan or systems of educational assessment and accountability. Our process intentionally places shoulder-to-shoulder stakeholders with varying degrees of influence over the current system, ranging from current decision-makers to the students, families, and community members held farthest from seats of power. Over multiple engagements, these coalition members work to understand the system - and each other - from different perspectives. Their work builds toward a shared understanding of the system as it currently exists; the intended future state in which all people in the system have their needs heard and met; and a learning agenda that will guide movement from here to there. While the process may conclude with a concrete set of plans or designs to be tried, the greater aim is to build new habits that enable system leaders and the community to implement the work, monitor progress, and continue working in mutualistic ways.
C!E’s approach inclusive co-creation especially emphasizes building empathy across lines of difference, weaving new relationships, and lifting up collective well-being as a shared priority that impacts not just individuals but the community and the system as a whole.
We celebrate that we are neither the first nor the only group of individuals who want education systems to be more equitable and responsive to the needs of every learner. Change of this order requires multiple actors at all levels of the system to work in concert. Therefore, we seek to maximize impact by actively partnering with kindred spirits.
Aligned partnering takes multiple forms, such as joining and supporting learning communities sponsored by others; fostering alignment among multiple organizations working in a particular place; and convening individuals and organizations united by a common interest or purpose in order to learn alongside and strengthen each others’ work.
C!E approaches aligned partnering with curiosity, care, and criticality - aiming to practice the habits and dispositions that we believe are central to effective collaboration, shared learning, and connectedness that can hold and sustain the complex work of systems change.