What Drives Ensemble Learning? Core Values Series: Fun (Post 3 of 5)

Ensemble Learning is still a relatively new organization, and we think it’s important to tell you what we’re all about.  Ensemble Learning is extremely mission-driven. We focus all our work around the goal of increasing equity for English learners. To organize our work around the mission, we have five core values that dictate how we work. In this series, we review and explain each of these values.  See other blogs in the series here and here.

In this post, we’ll talk about the core value of “fun.”  We define “fun” as “sustaining ourselves and each other with joy.”  What this means to us is that we really want Ensemble Learning to be a fun place to work and a fun organization to work with.  This doesn’t mean we will always come into your schools bearing pizzas and DJs, but it does mean that we will take the time to know each other and our partners in a way that allows us to genuinely enjoy those relationships.  This involves jokes and asking you who you are outside work to get a better understanding of our partners as whole people, not only educators. We believe this allows us to really work together with respect to increase equity AND it makes work more enjoyable for everyone! 

Elise and James attempting to draw one another quickly for a conference activity.

As a team, we take this very seriously.  We are required to spend time with one another in a casual (usually over a meal) setting when we are traveling to the same places, we open all our team meetings with a “get to know you” question not about work (this week’s was “what is your favorite rap lyric?” and we build games and activities into our team retreats,

Katherine opening baby gifts at her shower during the team retreat.
The coaching team and stragglers after a lovely dinner in Austin for our coach team retreat.

we have regional meetings monthly to keep in touch, 

The Texas team celebrating Kettisha’s birthday at our last regional lunch.

and we look for opportunities to have fun together wherever we can.  

We took a caricature break at one of our conferences.
We even have fun on our way to other fun!

We also do this with our partners (although less formally).  We like to hang out with partners during meals and chat. We celebrate successes and encourage partners to share what’s going on in their lives.  These pieces that are often forgotten or deemed “unimportant” to other organizations are key to Ensemble making a deep connection. This is important to us because we don’t see partners just as a way to make money or a lever to pull to improve education, but rather as real people who are working to improve their practice and who are valuable partners in making the school system in America more equitable!  Plus, it’s a lot of fun! 


Dr. Leigh Mingle is the Senior Director of Research and Data Analysis at Ensemble Learning. Continue the conversation with her at lmingle@ensemblelearning.org. To learn how you can partner with Ensemble Learning for powerful adult learning and FUN, contact Ensemble CEO, Elise Darwish, at edarwish@ensemblelearning.org.


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