Dave Manzella, currently the school designer at EL Education, was Eagle Rock School’s literature and literacy instructional specialist back in 2008 through 2011. Last month, he came back to Eagle Rock to facilitate a training program for another Colorado school.
Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts (MESA) is a grade 7-12 public school in the Mapleton School District located in Thornton, Colo. MESA has been an EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) School for more than a decade, and MESA’s administrators wanted to begin the new academic year grounding the staff in the school wide objective of developing more self-managed classrooms and school.
They partnered with us here at Eagle Rock in a daylong program that saw the MESA staff gather off campus for some focused time away from other beginning-of-the-year distractions.
The day (August 8) was spent developing a common language for what it means to have a self-managed classroom and school. MESA teachers began the day by focusing on one of the most (but not the most) important factors in the classroom — themselves. While discussing the importance of having a confident and positive teacher presence, these instructors were reminded that their relationship with their students sets the tone for virtually everything that occurs in a classroom.
The MESA staff also had an opportunity to dig into instructional practices that support the engagement of all students. Sessions were designed so teachers were able to experience the instructional protocols as their students will see them. Teachers said they appreciated seeing approaches and protocols modeled for them.
While there are always new tricks and tools to learn, the day also provided MESA teachers the opportunity to share the best practices that they are currently implementing in their classrooms. These instructors participated in consultancy protocols to support the everyday dilemmas teachers face, as well as success analysis protocol that provided some reflection on what works well and why.
The MESA staff finished the day by committing to putting these new and improved practices into place.
In addition to Manzella, the event was conducted by John Humphrey, MESA instructional guide, and our own Michael Soguero and Dan Condon.