Among the things we’re proudest of at Eagle Rock School are our thrice-annual Presentations of Learning (POLs), during which our students present a self-appraisal of their educational progress during the previous trimester. And they do so each time before a live audience of teachers, administrators, notables and community members interested in alternatives to educational assessment.
This “rite of passage” gives students the chance to show what they’ve learned in the preceding months — a sort of show and tell for learning and academic progress. (Note: If you’d like to learn more about POLs, please read: Understanding Eagle Rock’s Presentations Of Learning.)
With that in mind, what we’re presenting below are the thoughtful memories and experiences of 15 Eagle Rock School graduates who, over their time here, presented their share of POLs. Some of these recollections provide insight into the process and others describe the life-changing effects such sessions have had on these grads lives since their departure from Eagle Rock.
We’re delighted and proud to hear from these former students, and we’re impressed with their take on POLs:
Hutch: There’s a saying that I have loved and thought on for a long time. The saying is “To teach is to learn twice.” POLs exemplify this saying. By giving a POL, a student has the ability to teach what they have learned to their audience and therefore go a step further and solidly their knowledge base simultaneously.
Jaylene: POLs were an integral part of validating and showing proficiency in academic and personal development understanding. The experience granted by this opportunity not only builds confidence in public speaking engagements, but also ensures that we as students are held accountable for our learning, in a way that can’t be quantified by traditional testing measures.
Song: I value my experience giving POLs for a couple reasons. One is that I became a lot more comfortable speaking in front of people in a formal setting. Public speaking gets less intimidating with practice. I also appreciated that POL prep time gave me a way to reflect and get my thoughts on paper in a more organized way. It’s great thinking back on what I did during a period of time, but I cant’ figure out how I’ve grown until I am asked to articulate it.
Writing what I’ve done helps me start to think about the lessons I’ve learned; then planning a presentation helps me think deeper about why these lessons are important. ERS encourages us not only to say what we did, but also to talk about what we have found out about ourselves. I especially like to realize where I still need work.
Javonnie: The importance of POLs is that it helps student/people learn how to give a presentation. It also helps their public speaking skills.
Julien: POLs for me were something that taught me responsibility and gave me confidence. By being able to include actual photos or projects or just provide evidence of actual learning and spiritual growth with facts and examples from real life events proves not only to myself but to an audience that the past few months of my life were life-changing and had value.
If I am unable to teach to others what I have learned, I don’t think the experience will have such a lasting impact in my life and in my future endeavors.
Alejandro: The value in doing a POL is that it forces you to share the knowledge you’ve received. I believe that sharing that information serves as a critical final step in the learning process. Once you can teach someone what you know, then you truly have a fundamental understanding of the lesson and are on your way to mastering it.
Beyond that, public speaking is quite literally a hurdle that some will never overcome if not persuaded to do so early on. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to speak publicly before my professional career. I’ve come to learn that it is an illogical fear that must be tamed. There is also value in public speaking, beyond professionally. The ability to speak publicly means that you are less likely to be silenced or even worse, overlooked. The world’s greatest leaders had to share a message for a greater cause and most all had to rely on the ability to speak for those who couldn’t speak for themselves.
Erin: I think POLs are one of the most valuable things that Eagle Rock does. Looking back, they teach students skills that are critical in their adult lives — public speaking and being able to thoughtfully and succinctly present in front of an audience; being able to demonstrate, articulate, and take ownership of their learning and personal growth; and being able to speak off the cuff as they are questioned about their presentations and ideas.
I can’t tell you how many times I have walked out of a meeting thinking, “I’m so glad I started practicing that at 17.” As a parent, I think POL’s are beneficial to students and teachers as well. Instead of teaching to tests, teachers can teach to students. And for students, the process of learning becomes much more personal, organic and engaging. Long live the POL and may it spread into schools everywhere!
Samantha: POLs gave me the opportunity to build my confidence, while showcasing what I’ve learned. POLs allowed me to reflect on the trimester, and gave me the attention I needed in a positive way. POLs also made me feel heard and important, something I wasn’t getting in public school.
I really enjoyed delivering my POLs in a creative manner — and getting genuine feedback. POLs allowed me to be my authentic self and take time to acknowledge my successes and failures along the way. I also felt inspired by other student’s POLs. Now as an adult in social work, I use these same skills during various meetings I’ve had in my career. In addition this practice (POLs) helped prepare me for college presentations!
Stacy: POLs are a great asset to student’s educational careers because they allow students to reflect on their learning and make personal connections to their learnings. It’s also great practice for public speaking, which is essential because the ability to project your thoughts clearly is essential. The ability to comfortable speak in front of an audience of strangers will prove valuable once students depart Eagle Rock.
How we present ourselves and how we speak, will determine how people perceive us. Realistically, this makes a difference in whether we receive a certain job or certain scholarships or certain acceptance in a professional setting. I believe if students across the nation preformed POL, they would understand the importance of their education, while making personal connections. And they would be better prepared and have a leg up in public speaking and presentation.
Amanda: Reflection has become a huge piece of my life. The POLs were a great way for me to learn how to do this, both personally as well as academically.
Leia: I was talking about this with a coworker who is also an old co-worker of Kelsey Glass. POLs have taught me that unless you can prove that you have learned something — or regurgitate what you have taken in — it is useless and your brain will prune it because you have not connected it to life or where you will ever use it.
Zoe: POLs have really helped me be able to step outside myself and reflect on how I’ve changed and developed as a person. They’ve also really aided my speaking skills, making it much easier for me to be comfortable in front of an audience.
Ruthy: POLs are important because they teach one how to organize information, build self-confidence, and strengthen communication skills. POLs have aided in my success academically and professionally. As a freshman in college I was comfortable presenting in front of large audiences. While at work I was able to answer questions directly because POLs improved my listening skills. Students across America should do POLs because they expose them to all of the skills that are required to be successful; communication, organization, attentiveness, and confidence.
Hannah: POLs taught me the ease of public speaking and how to present myself in a professional and confident manner.
Philip: I think POLs are integral with the alternative education model that has been created through Eagle Rock School. It allows the student to solidify their learning and experiences by expressing themselves to their peers and faculty. I learned public speaking, presentation preparation, time management, as well as sense of accomplishment.