Sunday, October 27, 2013

Show Me...How Big Your Brave Is!

World of Woodworking (W.O.W.) Cluster Preparing to Build Benches

Enrichment clusters are in full swing here at Austin Elementary, and they are bigger and better than ever!  Now I know what you are thinking.  "Sure they are...whatever...same old stuff..."  But if that is what is going through your head, you couldn't be more wrong.  Our learners are doing great things!  They are exploring the world of forensic science, investigating the impact of human choice and climate change on ocean life, analyzing environmental factors that lead to criminal behavior, and looking at the economic and cultural realities that often motivate modern day piracy.
 They are growing their own bacteria, developing a small business, and utilizing technology to communicate with the world around them.  They are learning new languages, discovering new talents, and developing a passion for seeking out those in need of their help in order to find ways to make a difference.   I couldn't be more proud of them, or of the educators and community facilitators who are leading them.  Together they have been willing to take huge leaps of faith as they follow the call of their  passions into some brave new worlds.

Young Austin Quilters Guild at Work
I recently heard a song that spoke of the courage and faith it takes to speak truth to a world that so often would prefer not to hear it.  The song struck a chord in my own heart as I grappled with a situation that shook the very foundation upon which my own sense of value and worth as an educator are built. As I worked my way through what I considered to be a defining moment in my own life, I found the words of this song speaking to me in a way that was probably far different from the writer's intent, but nonetheless, personally powerful.  As I listened to the song over and over again, one line kept going around and around in my head.  "SHOW ME...HOW BIG YOUR BRAVE IS!" As I heard that line, I couldn't help but think about the current transformation taking place, not only in Coppell ISD, but in the world of education as a whole.  I couldn't help but think about the courage and strength of the educators and administrators here at Austin Elementary.  I couldn't help but think about our learners who are stepping out into new adventures everyday as they forge new paths to learning and excellence in today's digital world.  Robert Frost once said, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I---I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."  Today's learners aren't just taking the road less traveled...they are building a whole new road!  What a privilege we have, as educators, to walk beside them on this share, at this moment in time, in the wonder and excitement that is "learning."  

Movin' and Groovin' Working on Choreography
So, you may be asking, "What does all this have to do with enrichment clusters?"  The answer is simple.  As educators, this privilege we have to help unlock the incredible potential of the future generation comes with an incredible responsibility.  And with this responsibility comes a need for strength, courage, and perseverance like never before.  Our world is changing at an astronomical rate. Today's learners will inherit a future that is faster, more dynamic, and possibly, more volatile than any other time in our history.  The issues our learners will face are far more complex...the decisions they will make, far more consequential...than ever before.  The young people sitting in our classrooms today will require a very unique skill set in order to take their place as leaders in this global community...a skill set that has not traditionally been valued in the world of education.  Innovation, creativity, collaboration, communication...these are the skills of the future...and these are the skills that are being developed in our learners through the enrichment cluster experience. Enrichment clusters provide opportunities for learners to pursue their passions, identify real world issues related to those passions, and find ways to use those passions to make an impact on the

Part With Your Art Cluster Member Drawing...With Her Eyes Closed!
world around them. Throughout the process, learners are asked to think, act, and speak like real world professionals, thinking critically,  collaborating with peers, and communicating effectively with the world around them.  Exciting?  Absolutely!  But successful implementation of enrichment clusters requires educators to step out of their comfort zone and explore worlds they have never seen.  It forces them to shift their mindset from control and compliance to interest and innovation.  It encourages them to learn right alongside their students...maybe even from their students, as they step eagerly into the role of learner,  allowing their students to show them the way.  And the cool thing is...our educators are doing just that.  One of the most exciting trends I have seen during this round of enrichment clusters is the willingness in so many of our educators to take on clusters outside the realm of their expertise.  A third grade teacher exploring cartooning and stop motion animation...something she knows nothing about!  Another diving into the world of robotics...and relying on learners from the high school to show her the way.  A third taking on the art of quilting.  She doesn't know a thing about it, but she is excited about learning a new craft.  The list could go on and on...piracy, forensic science, photography, journalism.  Our learners are being exposed to opportunities we have never before imagined because, together with our educators, they have been willing to dream big and step courageously out into the world of the unknown.   In short, they have decided to choose courage over fear and show the world, "how big their brave is!"

Want to know more?   Sign up for an E-Time tour.  We would love for you to see first hand the exciting things our learners are exploring and accomplishing every week!

Feeling brave?  Why don't you consider joining us as a volunteer?  We need speakers, assistants, facilitators, mentors, and so much more.  No special skills required.  Just a heart for kids, a desire to make a difference, and the courage to say "Yes, I'll do it!"

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