Indianapolis Public School Butler University Lab School


  cadcollabA month ago or so, I finished up a long time contract with a favorite school, the Indianapolis Public School Butler University Laboratory School, better known in Indianapolis as the Lab School.  I have worked with Butler University for, let's see, 10 years! and have worked with the Lab School for 5, ever since they became a school.  It has been an inspiration and a privilege to work with such a dedicated and hard working group of teachers, professors and administrators at both Butler University and their Lab School.  The great majority of the teachers employed by the school are Butler University graduates and this creates a unity and loyalty to both institutions, the university and the lab school.  The school is always on the trajectory of learning...undergraduates, graduates, instructors, deans, professors, teachers, pre school and elementary students, everyone is interested in continuous improvement.  By that I mean designing and fully participating in making learning more meaningful, more effective, more relevant, more exciting, more real.


So, I have grown too, alongside them.  Working with the Butler Lab School was my first significant contract as a consultant.  Soon after Ashley and I founded Cadwell Collaborative, I was hired by Ena Shelley who is the Dean of the College of Education at Butler.  Dean Shelley believed that I could be an effective coach and professional development leader for the Lab School and that meant a lot to me.  As it turned out, we have worked closely together and also with Ron Smith, the principal of the school to co-design the shape our learning would take.


I am so grateful for and proud of the work that we have done together.  We are all close colleagues now and will find ways to keep in touch.  Congratulations to all of you at the Butler Lab School for all the good and hard work that you continue to do every day.

My last day there, the teachers and I gathered for a final meeting.  I shared images that I had captured during the week of the beautiful work at the school some of which are featured in this blog post, and they reflected on what they were most proud of and what they celebrated the most about their work. (They had also done this earlier that week with Dean Shelley.) I conclude with some of their comments.


I think our greatest accomplishment as a school is creating the school’s culture. We are now reaping the harvest of that hard work . It is such a joy and a blessing. I would not be the teacher that I am today if not for the staff with whom I get to teach.

Personally, I feel tremendous growth. One way that I have grown is in allowing children to be more and more independent each year.

I love thinking about the deep personal connection that I have made with families over the years.

I feel that I understand how to create a space that welcomes children and offers opportunities that provoke wonder and thinking.

I want to make sure that the tone of my interactions with families comes from a place of caring, mutual understanding, and respect.

I have been especially proud of how my teaching is responding to the needs and thoughts of my students. I feel my strongest Reggio Inspired area of practice has been in my child driven inquiry of multiplication!

One of the things I am most proud of is my own development is the process of writing engaging, inspiring curriculum.

I love our library. We visited other classes and we all decided that we wanted the library to feel like a tree house.

It’s like a family here. Everyone is just a question away.

I’m new and that is true for me too. I could go into any classroom and ask for help.

Those 5th graders…they have made it all this way. They say, “You were a football player and now you are a teacher!”

Some days I think, “Do I really know anything?”

I am a filter. I help mediate so that we can move forward in the best way.

My teammates helped me. Even if I was crying they would say, “You are not going to have a day like this tomorrow. We are going to help you set up your room and your plans for tomorrow.

I love it here every day. I am so proud to be a part of this community.

In our school there is a feeling of warmth, inviting experiences and engagement. A community of parents and children.

There is a genuine, authentic spirit, a joy, and excitement for learning.

We see democracy here …children’s voices, children’s ideas for guidelines and agreements in their hand writing and in their portraits. We hear their voices when we walk the halls.

There is so much life and light in our school…green plants, energy, enthusiasm, freedom and openness and thoughtful, prepared spaces.

I love it here every single day. I am so proud to be a part of this community.

cadwell collaborative