Each fall for the last four years, The Rowland Foundation has offered a one-day conference for educators hosted by the University of Vermont at the Dudley H. Davis Center on campus in Burlington. It’s a popular conference, evidenced by the fact that this year’s event — themed Developing Character, Student Achievement and Socio-Emotional Learning (Oct. 30, 2014) — is completely sold out.
And while the event is open to all educators, the foundation specifically encourages eight-member teams from Vermont high schools to attend. Team members typically include the principal or head of school, two or three teachers and an additional administrator or two. In addition, each school is strongly encouraged to invite two students, as well as a school board member or superintendent.
What the Rowland Foundation does is provide Vermont’s secondary school educators with unique professional development and leadership opportunities, along with resources they can take back to their schools that positively affect student achievement and the culture and climate of their respective schools.
Eagle Rock — and in particular, personnel from our Professional Development Center — will be presenting a workshop during the conference, entitled, Cultivating the Synergy: Grit and Academics.
Note: Did you attend (or are you attending) our Rowland workshop? Downloadable resources from the presentation can be found here.
As you’re likely to know, our Professional Development Center has spent the last 20 years facilitating and inspiring organizational change processes in schools across the country. And with all that experience under our belts, we have discovered that many schools that place value on skills such as perseverance and grit do not necessarily know how to integrate attention to those qualities in academic contexts.
Our Rowland workshop is intended to help educators identify and develop opportunities for integrating the worlds of content knowledge and academic skills with those behaviors and attitudes that are typically referred to as non-cognitive factors. The objective is for these teachers to develop a clear plan of action to improve the integration in their own school setting.
We’re basing our workshop on the work of Camille Farrington, a research associate and an assistant professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Two years ago, Farrington and her colleagues at the Consortium on Chicago School Research wrote a literature review titled Teaching Adolescents To Become Learners: The Role of Non-cognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance: A Critical Literature Review. In the article, the educators wrote:
“Perhaps social skills have a weak direct relationship with course grades because many classrooms — particularly at the high school level — still tend to rely on lecture-style instructional delivery, which minimizes the social and cooperative aspects of learning. In contexts where individuals must work collaboratively in problem-solving teams, social skills are likely to be more directly related to performance.”
Our Thursday workshop will be led by Michael Soguero, Eagle Rock’s director of professional development; Dan Condon, associate director of professional development; and, Sarah Bertucci, professional development associate.
In addition to a variety of workshops and activities, the Rowland Foundation sponsored a “My School Builds Character” video contest, and the winners will be showcased at the conference. The challenge was for Vermont schools to create a video describing a unique program or element at their school that highlights the conference theme. In particular, the videos are meant to show how the path toward graduation doesn’t have to be a limited route. It can be unique and possess the added element of demonstrating proficiency in character development.
The winning videos will be shown to students, teachers and leaders from across Vermont at the closing of the conference. A fitting end to a productive day of educational advancement.