Eagle Rock Students Dive Into Professional Development

Students at Eagle Rock School are beginning to play an important role in the work done by our Professional Development Center (PDC). Starting with some rapid prototypes, we’ve experienced impressive results thus far. Here was our best thinking, which brought us to where we are today:

Eagle Rock students can offer unique contributions to our professional development offerings because, unlike adults, they have a vastly different perspective on education. And when we involve them in our on-site consultations and work with schools around the country, they have the inside track when it comes to interviewing other students for their particular take on issues and projects we’re working on.

JHP_0002To be sure, participating Eagle Rock students also benefit from this partnership. They gain important skills that will serve them well after graduation. Things like professionalism, organization, interview skills, and knowledge about change processes.

Like we said, the results so far have been impressive. For example, in Vermont, six of our students participated in trainings about assets-based change, assets observations, and appreciative interviews. Student Myles Grant-Pollack traveled with Sarah Bertucci and Anastacia Galloway, two of our PDC associates, to Winooski, Vt., to conduct an assets inventory for the Winooski Middle/High School (WMHS).

Winooski has determined that Physical, Social, and Emotional Well-Being are among their graduation expectations and the school is now working on articulating the key aspects of well-being that they desire their students embolden. Once those are established, they will work on how to assess well-being.

Myles worked on the assets inventory in order for WMHS educators to see where their students are in terms of learning aspects of well-being. This meant that he observed classes, hallways, and the cafeteria to see demonstrations of well-being. He also interviewed a number of students to ask them in which elements of well-being they had experienced success.

Myles was an invaluable asset to our Professional Development team, and his work helped advance the transformation working to support at WMHS.

In Iowa, Eagle Rock students Cha’Asia Rucker and Cristian Aguiluz traveled with Sarah Bertucci and PDC Public Allies Fellow Kelsey Baun to perform an assets inventory for Van Meter Community School District, located just outside of Des Moines, Iowa.

Van Meter educators want to do a better job of ensuring that all students are learning the skills articulated in its schools’ Vision Points (Communicate, Collaborate, Create, Innovate, Adapt, Solve Problems, Think Globally, Live Ethically, Persevere).

Like Myles’ work in Vermont, Cha’Asia and Cristian worked on assets observations and appreciative interviews. They also observed elementary school students’ news reports, touched fish eyes in a biology class, and heard about great student projects such as making biodiesel and a deer stand.

Their day’s work resulted in a 34-page report that was presented to the school’s Competency-based Education team; a report that was met with great interest — and many questions and comments — and can now serve as key information for Van Meter to determine its next steps towards achieving their objectives.

Finally, in Albuquerque, N.M., Eagle Rock students Stacy Escobar, Martin Araiza, Tara “June” Jones-Knight and Myles Grant-Pollack conducted focus group discussions at four schools in that city: South Valley Academy, Amy Biehl High School, ACE Leadership and Health Leadership High School.

In preparation for the focus groups, the Eagle Rock students underwent intensive Qualitative Analysis training that totaled eight hours over several days. As a result, they learned how to conduct interviews by asking probing questions rather than leading questions.

They also learned the power of body language, vocal tone, and active listening techniques. In addition, the students learned to interview in teams and take thorough notes of the interviewees in order to collect qualitative data.

Prior to the trip to New Mexico, the student participants interviewed some of their peers at Eagle Rock, giving them the opportunity to hear the stories behind the success of the students’ experiences at their very own school.

Some of our students have told us the biggest gains they received from participating in our Professional Development Center’s work — beyond the skills sets — were the new insights they acquired from our national work and the power of education and the influence it has on student lives all over the nation.

Comments (2)

  1. Lois Easton says:

    This is so exciting! It is what we always wanted for Eagle Rock — to unite the PDC and the school itself. We achieved part of that goal while I was there, but you are definitely exceeding it! Hooray! I’m going to send this blog to Kathleen Cushman who wrote a chapter for the third edition of Powerful Designs for Professional Learning, which Dan, Michael, and I contributed to. Kathleen’s chapter is about accessing study voices, and I know she’ll appreciate what Eagle Rock is doing to make the student voice count, to help adults learn from students, etc. Super!

  2. Justin Pollack says:

    Great write up!! Myles, we’re so proud of what you’re learning, and the opportunities you’re taking advantage of there at Eagle Rock School! What a great “graduation expectation’ at that one school you visited: “Winooski has determined that Physical, Social, and Emotional Well-Being are among their graduation expectations”, because it has been shown that it leads to more successful adults.

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