The Seed of LEA Sprouts and Grows
The Leadership Education Academy (LEA) emerged from a December 2012 discussion between two ILA members who had the idea to offer a cutting-edge, cohort-based program that developed leadership educators personally and professionally to enhance the curricular work they do in an academic classroom or a student affairs program. In early 2013, they assembled a team of talented faculty and student affairs professionals to design a program that would help leadership educators learn foundational content in leadership alongside effective instructional strategies for teaching leadership in and out of the classroom. The team concluded that LEA should be immersive, cohort-based, experiential, intentional, and that there must be opportunities for reflection, feedback, and mentoring. After establishing a shared vision for LEA, the planning began. The team spent two and a half years designing the structure, curriculum, resources, and assessment plan for the first Leadership Education Academy held in August 2015.
2.5 Years of Preparation Produces Delicious Fruit
LEA took place over two and a half days in Orlando, Florida and included 57 participants from six countries as well as ten facilitators and one graduate student intern. The Academy integrated three distinct, but complementary, learning experiences, devoting a day to each.
Day 1 included a broad overview of foundational leadership theories, models, and concepts. As one satisfied participant noted, “I have used many of the theories and models, but as someone who didn't get my education in leadership education specifically, the ability for me to understand them more clearly as well as to really grasp the families of theory was extremely helpful. Now I may more carefully choose which theories and models fit situations in the future in my teaching. The entire day of theory … was exactly what I needed.” The content for Day 1 was delivered through interactive exercises and group work — the very same learning methods, instructional strategies, and pedagogies that would be explored in the second experience on Day 2. “In terms of teaching and learning expertise, I felt that LEA provided the participants with a plethora of pedagogical strategies, teaching methods, and creative ideas related to teaching leadership,” offered a participant from 2015.
The final experience, Day 3, integrated content and pedagogy from the two prior days in a learning environment that included feedback and coaching from peers and LEA facilitators. In addition, breakout sessions on topics ranging from reflection to pedagogical practice were offered. It was a shared value of the LEA planning team that participants had an opportunity to practice and apply what they learned the previous two days, reflect on their experience, and delve further into topics of interest. In addition to the unique format of the three distinct days, LEA integrated exercises around leadership educator identity exploration. Through reflection, narratives, storytelling, and images, leadership educators explored their own professional identities as a way to make meaning of how those identities shape what and how they teach leadership.
As LEA co-chairs Dan Jenkins and Corey Seemiller thought back and reflected on 2015, they shared that the creation of LEA was truly an innovative and collaborative grassroots process that brought together an array of leadership educators to construct a unique experience that contributed to the field of leadership education. The dedication and work they put into LEA is reflected in the rave reviews it received from participants.
I was so very pleased by the willingness that participants and presenters exhibited in sharing their expertise, their resources, and their strengths and weaknesses so we could all become better at what we do in leadership education.
It was exactly what I needed from a learning process and everything I wish I had in any conference I attend.
The LEA Conference that I went to this week was the best investment ever (for me) of our Palm Beach Atlantic development funds. I was exposed to so many innovative, creative, and effective teaching methods. I have never been more excited for the beginning of a new school year.
The 2017 Leadership Education Academy — What’s New This Year?
After the success of the inaugural LEA in 2015, the co-chairs were confident that there was a need for the Academy in the field and wanted to ensure that ILA would again offer a truly transformative educational experience in 2017. After careful consideration of participant feedback, facilitator ideas, and their own reflections, they added some enhancements for 2017. To maintain an element of consistency, six of the facilitators, including the co-chairs, returned to the lineup. Four very talented new individuals were bought on board through an application and selection process. They represent a variety of leadership educator roles and expertise, including those with a focus on student affairs as well as community and corporate leadership education, broadening LEA’s scope. Find out more about the 2017 facilitators on the LEA webpage. Because of the diverse roles and experiences of facilitators, the team was able to develop an affinity group element of LEA in which participants can cluster with others in similar roles and a facilitator with related experience. Affinity groups include undergraduate faculty members, online leadership educators, student affairs professionals, community leadership educators, corporate leadership trainers, and more. The affinity group experience is designed to help participants network with others in similar roles as well as have a space to apply content from LEA to their specific contexts and experiences.
In addition to the new faces, the program will be growing slightly for 2017. Given that registration filled early for the 2015 LEA, we wanted to expand the opportunity to accommodate 72 participants. This allows fifteen more people to participate, while still keeping the total number low enough to offer a tight-knit community of practice and ensure that participants have one-on-one access to the facilitators for coaching and feedback. The program will also be extended by an additional day, allowing facilitators to dig deeper with participants into LEA’s three key experiences. The additional day allowed the team to add new and innovative content, weave in more self-reflective pieces around the leadership educator role, and integrate a hands-on project that guides participants from program/course design all the way to assessment. As in 2015, the LEA experience will end with coaching and feedback sessions ensuring that participants have the opportunity to discuss their projects with a seasoned leadership educator.
Finally, as much as everyone loved LEA 2015 in Orlando, the team is excited to head to Denver this July and enthusiastically hopes “you can join us for an immersive, collaborative, and innovative experience to help you design leadership education initiatives on your campuses, in your workplaces, and in your communities.”