April Coffey

Homewood Middle School, Homewood AL

Participate in world-renowned culinary and textile workshops in London to increase proficiency in national Career Technology standards and create innovative, and engaging learning opportunities Family and Consumer Sciences students.

Where I've Been

  • London, United Kingdom

My Fellowship in Images

Learning to cook Spring rolls at Le Cordon BleuB London
Marinating and learning the process for Peking Duck
Learning from world-renowned chefs, who are experts in French and Indian cuisine
Taking a cakes class at the London cookery school
Attending an evening tea party in true British fashion
Exploring a trout farm and having lunch in the beautiful Cotswolds

Igniting Personal and Professional Growth

What changed as a result of your fellowship? Why was it vital for you to pursue this particular opportunity/experience? What learning gaps (yours and/or your students’) were/will be filled as a result of your fellowship?

I have spent my 15 years in education as both a history teacher or as an administrator; therefore, the FACS curriculum is new to me. Many professional development offerings focus on instruction methodology rather than specific curriculum standards, and opportunities for FACS PD are limited. Because of my fellowship, I now feel better equipped to teach students in two areas of significant interest, cooking and fashion.

How do you see your teaching evolving after your fellowship? Your students’ learning?

By deepening my knowledge of cooking and Fashion, I have been able to implement more creative student learning experiences. For example, at the Cookery School, I learned to create a multitude of cakes by mastering one simple recipe and then add to it to create various flavors of cake. Now I can teach students to bake more conceptually instead of using individual recipes. Another significant result was learning to prepare foods from other cultures, as my students are very ethnically diverse.

What were some unplanned or unexpected experiences or outcomes of your fellowship?

By attending many teas throughout London, I was intrigued by the history of and food served for afternoon tea. I researched recipes and ideas for afternoon tea, and last week, my students did an incredible job preparing food and decorating for a tea, while learning the history and evolution of afternoon tea. I was excited to discover many fashion exhibits. I was able to deepen my knowledge of fashion history, and I look forward to incorporating it into my fashion and textiles unit.

Impacting Your Classroom, School and Community

How will your students learn differently because of your new knowledge or skills?

-Teach more conceptually: Gaining knowledge of correctly holding and maneuvering a knife and performing specialized cuts (ie: mincing, julienne). Taught skill to students the first week of school in Kitchen Safety unit, as proper use leads to less accidents. Students learned specialized cuts using a knife and Playdough with a goal of learning cuts and proper holding and maneuvering a knife -Increase cultural appreciation and historical knowledge by preparing foods from all parts of the world

What specific events, projects or deliverables will your students experience related to your fellowship?

1. Event planning: Students planned and prepared decor and food (finger sandwiches, cookies, Victoria sponge cake, Assam tea, deviled eggs) for an afternoon tea; learned history and evolution of the UK afternoon tea 2. Cross-curricular cooking activity: Students will learn to prepare foods from other cultures, as they discuss that civilization and its main crops in World History 3. Fashion Etiquette: Compare US and UK interpretations of proper fashion for black tie events, business casual, etc

How, specifically, will your fellowship extend beyond your classroom? (e.g. families, school-at-large, afterschool groups, surrounding community, colleagues, etc.)

1. Social Media: Created Instagram account (@ms.coffeysshop) to share about Fellowship and classroom activities. Students follow the account, as do many parents and community members, who were told about the grant and provided the account name at Sept. 3 Open House. 2. Constructed a newspaper article about Fellowship; provided to community paper (Homewood Star) 3.Shared with Career Tech teachers in CTE meeting 4. Will be sharing teachers during school PD meeting (in Oct.)

Inspiring the Future

Why was this opportunity transformative for your teaching on a macro-level?

1. Conceptualization: Learning more about specific topics that I chose allowed me to better plan activities of deepest interest and greatest benefit for students 2. Purposeful planning: Students learn more if experiences are intentionally planned and grouped in a specific way. My increased knowledge allows me to provide students the greatest number of and most beneficial learning experiences 3. Differentiation: Deeper knowledge helps me create appropriate and

Why do students benefit from this type of teacher learning?

Teachers and their students are partners in learning, and an excellent teacher designs such a wonderful opportunity to target areas of weakness, thereby improving students’ learning experience. I was very intentional in the design of this fellowship to: 1. Address my knowledge gaps in areas of significant student interest, such as baking and fashion 2. Learn to prepare foods to promote deeper understanding among my widely diverse group of students. 3. Teach fashion in a more active manner

How would you describe to a friend or grant funder the fundamental ways in which your fellowship changed your personal and/or professional perspective?

The outcomes of this fellowship were even greater than I anticipated and changed my perspective in many significant ways: 1. Instilled in me greater confidence in my ability to teach conceptually rather than in individual units 2. Because of my significantly wider knowledge, it increased my ability to differentiate instruction in response to student needs 3. Because of my focus on learning the preparation of culturally diverse dishes, my skill in developing cross-curricular activities increa