HCDE News Blog

‘An unknown better’: Center for Educator Success sends educators into new year with fresh ideas

Harris County Department of Education’s (HCDE) Center for Educator Success (CES) welcomed more than 100 educators and school leaders to its kickoff, “The Innovator’s Mindset,” on July 21, marking the official launch of the division.   

“We brought together the community that surrounds us and invited people to hear the message of George Couros to remind us of what really matters—putting children at the center,” said CES Senior Director Cynthia Brunswick, Ed.D. “It’s the kickoff of our programming coming in the fall. We wanted people to know that we’re here, we’re fresh, we’re new, and we want to be thought partners with our districts and education community.”  

CES, a new division of HCDE, offers four yearlong core programs that will lend support and hybrid learning throughout the school year, including teacher certification, the Instructional Coaching Institute, New Teacher Institute, and New Principal Institute.  

Attendees gathered at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where headliner George Couros—a former educator and principal and author of “The Innovator’s Mindset” and “Innovate Inside the Box”—offered transformational strategies for “learner-driven, evidence-informed schools.”  

“This is authentic, and he was very transparent through his story. He puts you in the mind of a teacher. He puts you in the mind of a student and paints how they feel,” said Aldine Independent School District Nimitz Ninth grade School Principal Charles Land. “Often in what we do, we overlook that. We look at what we have to accomplish over looking at the value of the person that we’re actually working with.”  

George Couros presents the Innovator’s Mindset during a kick-off program for the Center for Educator Success, July 21, 2022.

Couros implored the educators and school leaders to consider their messages in the classroom or on educational platforms and their delivery modes to empower and inspire students, parents, employees, and other constituents. To drive his point home, he asked attendees to take to Twitter.  

Using the hashtag #HCDELeads, teachers, principals, and superintendents shared their thoughts on Couros’ presentation in real-time.   

“He did a great job of making us feel part of the presentation,” said Land. It didn’t feel like he was trying to get through a presentation. It was like, ‘I need you to understand the reasoning behind my story,’ It didn’t matter if he finished early or we passed time. He really made us feel like we were a part of his journey.”  

An attendee takes the conversation to Twitter during a kick-off program for the Center for Educator Success, July 21, 2022.

The same approach applies to the classroom, says Couros.  

“One of the things that is really important to me is that as educators, we are learners first,” he said. “For example, I’ve been blogging for about 12 or 13 years. I probably wouldn’t even be here today if I didn’t start my blog years ago because people would know none of my ideas. So, we’re trying to show not only some of the ways that active reflection can push our learning but what doors it opens for our kids. The only way we can really understand that is by immersing ourselves in that first.”  

Couros discussed how teachers used social media not only to capture and hold their students’ attention but to give students the tools and freedom to take charge of their educational journies.  

George Couros and HCDE Instreuctional Coach Nkechinyere Washington during a kick-off program for the Center for Educator Success, July 21, 2022.

“’Engagement’ is more about what you can do for your students. ‘Empowerment’ is about helping students figure out what they can do for themselves,” he said.  

Couros hoped educators would take away not how they could add time and tasks to their workdays but how they could use their time differently to produce better outcomes for students and more job satisfaction.  

“It caused us to take a step back and think about the human need first. In a school system where accountability is so heavy and the requirements are high, stakes are high at all times,” said Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District Deputy Superintendent Demetrius McCall. “For me, today was a reminder of the importance of relationships and creating an environment where people feel safe to have resilience.”  

Building resiliency and transforming educator pipelines is a core objective of CES’ strategic design.  

“Teaching education is a human business, and we need to be grounded in the stories of the people we’re working with,” said Brunswick. “There’s a myriad of reasons why we have a teacher shortage, and we need transformational solutions to address those complex challenges. Districts need partnerships, and that’s why HCDE exists. We want to bring energy and thought to their challenges.”  

To learn more about the Center for Educator Success and its programs, visit hcde-texas.org/CES.

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