Tuesday, September 3, 2013

From Ordinary to Extraordinary...

From Ordinary to Extraordinary... A Hero's Journey

That is our theme in the Coppell Independent School District this year.  Personally, I think it accurately describes the work ahead of us; transforming an ordinary/stale/broken educational system into something meaningful/engaging/relevant.  That's no easy task, and as the slogan implies, it will take a group of educational "heroes" to achieve such a gargantuan feat!

After attending the 2013-2014 CISD Principals' Academy over the summer, the administrative team @ Austin Elementary (Laurie O'Neill, Principal and Cooper Hilton, Assistant Principal) was charged with continuing to lead this transformation.  Though our professional learning for this year has only recently begun, we'd like to share a little bit with you from our learning on August 23rd and highlight some of the tools that are helping enhance our transformation.

Our Return to Confratute...

If you've read any of our previous posts, you may have come across this strange word that we keep throwing around... CONFRATUTE.  Don't try looking it up.  If you do, you probably won't come up with an accurate definition or description (chances are the definition will say something like Conference, Fraternity, and Institute).  That is because CONFRATUTE is indescribable.

Educators from Austin Elementary have been attending CONFRATUTE at the University of Connecticut for several years now.  It is, after all, the "hub" of professional learning for the Schoolwide Enrichment Model and gifted pedagogy.  We were fortunate enough to have our very own Liz Malone, GTI Facilitator and SEM Coordinator, attend again this summer.  Check out her "take-aways" below.  Hopefully, they'll help you come a little closer to understanding what CONFRATUTE is all about!  For more details on the Schoolwide Enrichment Model @ Austin Elementary, check out           Learning Made SEMple .


CONferenc...FRAternity…InstiTUTE  - Put it all together and you have CONFRATUTE, an amazing, weeklong adventure in learning on the beautiful University of Connecticut campus in Storrs, Connecticut.  If you have been following this blog for very long, you know that CONFRATUTE is where our SEM dream began four short years ago.  That summer, eight educators, accompanied by our principal, Laurie O’Neill, visited CONFRATUTE for the very first time.  When we arrived, we were immediately immersed in a culture of enrichment and talent development that would forever alter the way each of us thought about education.  It didn’t take long before we were absolutely convinced that the journey of SEM implementation was one our school needed to make.  Since that time, we have taken great strides towards full implementation of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model at Austin Elementary.  As a staff, we have spent countless hours on professional development, exploring the research behind The Schoolwide Enrichment Model, and designing what it would look like for our learners.   We have redesigned the way we form our classes, and have implemented “E-Time” on Friday mornings to provide a dedicated time each week for school wide, learner driven enrichment.  Last year, we moved forward with the implementation of Enrichment Clusters.  During these 5-8 week enrichment journeys, our learners were engaged in authentic, real world learning experiences through which they had the opportunity to pursue their interests, develop their talents, and make a difference in our world.