In July, the SWIFT Center gathered with 250 colleagues from around the country to launch the first SWIFT Professional Learning Institute (PLI). Participants included representatives from nearly all of the 64 schools, 16 school districts, and 5 states selected to receive technical assistance to implement the SWIFT model. Teams spent time exploring the SWIFT Framework in detail, identifying strengths of their current practices, gaining a foundational understanding of the science of implementing large-scale reform efforts, creatively expressing their values and vision, celebrating successes, and articulating initial steps of implementation once they get home.
During the 4-day Institute the SWIFT Center welcomed U.S. Department of Education guests such as: Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Sue Swenson, Director of the Office of Special Education Programs Melody Musgrove, Director of Research to Practice Division Larry Wexler, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Michael Yudin. These federal officials shared their words of support, excitement, and encouragement for the work that the SWIFT Center is embarking on; they also shared their enthusiasm for the educators gathered from around the country.
It wasn’t all celebration and patting ourselves on the back, participants spent significant time working in small groups to establish their own detailed implementation plans to take home. Utilizing multiple tools developed by the SWIFT Center, these teams began the hard work of dismantling the silos that exist in their current environments. A SWIFT advisor, who served as the group’s guide and facilitator, coordinated this work. In addition to the SWIFT Advisor, groups had access to SWIFT Content Advisors who provided detailed information about the SWIFT Domains and Features. SWIFT Content Advisors presented information during group break-out sessions and they were also available for direct consultation on their specific content.
Along with our SWIFT Schools and state partners, representatives from all six of the SWIFT Knowledge Development Sites attended the Institute. These educators came to share some of the best practices that are helping their schools experience success, but they also found that there were many opportunities for them to learn from each other. The dynamic nature of the PLI allowed for great sharing opportunities between and among all participants.
TASH is excited to be a part of the SWIFT Center and serving as the lead for the Policy and Stakeholder Engagement Team with IEL. The work of the SWIFT Center is bringing us into important conversations and collaborations that support the equity framework adopted by TASH.
For more information about the SWIFT Center visit www.swiftschools.org.