One of the major “perks” of becoming a part of our cohort of Public Allies Fellows at Eagle Rock is the opportunity to participate in a Colorado state alternative teacher licensure program, which is paid for by Eagle Rock.
An important portion of that program centers on weekly meetings with new licensure candidates on campus to hear fresh teaching skills from our Professional Development Center team members as a means of boosting the candidates’ instructional techniques.
Offered through our Fellowship Program in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education and Public Allies Inc., these “mini” lessons — known as Teaching and Learning Convenings (TLC) — are intended to improve the quality of teaching and awareness each candidate can produce within a classroom setting. The learnings range from classroom culture to simple and effective practices that can improve each student’s experience.
At the same time, the lessons allow each candidate to receive feedback from his or her peers — in addition to our own Professional Development Center staffers— who facilitate the training, allowing for personal and professional growth.
After each training, the candidates take what they have learned and implement those new skills in their respective classes. Having the chance to immediately practice their learnings allows each Fellow to see what works best for them and what might need improvement.
Gathering this information is essential to their success because they are able to bring back their learnings to meetings and describe to the group how these lessons were helpful. Bringing it back together as a whole provides each member of the cohort the opportunity to hear how others practice their new learning, thus providing ideas on other ways they can improve their lessons.
Not only do they get an opportunity to perform “hands-on” skills in class, but they also get a front-row seat to observe their peers in action. Between January and April — the second trimester of each school year — the candidates have the opportunity to sit in classes taught by other Fellows, observing how each member teaches through our version of Lesson Study.
This enables each candidate to seek similarities and differences among their peers in order to continue improving their recently acquired skills. For those who don’t get an opportunity to observe a peer’s class, a recorded version is available. These recordings are produced so candidates can review and replay them as they compare styles of teachings.
Having the opportunity to observe others and compare his or her methodology with their own style of teaching is instrumental for our Fellows personal and professional growth. During the third and final trimester of the experience, candidates participate in and learn how to facilitate a Professional Learning Community using School Reform Initiative protocols. As a result, by the end of their fellowship, the licensure candidates should have much better skills and tools they can utilize when needed.
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About The Author: Sebastian Franco is the 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo. A recent graduate of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., Sebastian holds double degrees in political science and international studies and a minor in Spanish.