Tips for Videoconferencing with Professional Learning Communities

School Reform Initiative (SRI) protocols within Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) have more impact when they are facilitated face-to-face by a skilled facilitator.

Being a member of the professional development team here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, I personally support about 10 school network or district clients nationally, which means there are times when I can’t be with them in person. Such face-to-face meetings are important, and I try to arrange these more personal consultations when possible.

But for those times when that’s not possible, I’ve facilitated such gatherings using Zoom’s video and web conferencing platform — a simple to use online tool that allows me to increase the amount of support I can offer clients sandwiched between in-person consulting visits to their local context.

photo for virtual protocol

If you’re unfamiliar with them, School Reform Initiative protocols offer structured processes to support focused and productive conversations, build collective understanding, and drive school improvement. Thoughtful use of these protocols is an integral part of building resilient professional learning communities.

In recent months, I’ve gathered up and written down a number of tips I believe can greatly increase efficacy of such gatherings online. These tips, which I’ll offer here as suggestions, include: Continue reading…

20-Mile March Takes Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Team to Vermont and Beyond

Our Professional Development Center team members — usually individually or in groups of two — visit dozens of educational sites across the nation each year. While this “you go this way and I’ll go that way” approach enables us to serve more schools and cover more ground, we find that we can potentially lose touch with those practices that make our center so successful.

Among the tools we bring along on these coast to coast educational retreats, seminars and workshops is a concept called “20-Mile Marching,” which helps our team members achieve great things in their work — despite the chaotic schedule and workload that confronts all of us on an annual basis.

Eagle Rock's Professional Development Center staffers: (Back row - from L to R) — Sarah Bertucci, Christi Kelston, Dan Condon, and Michael Soguero. (Front row - from L to R) — Sebastian Franco and Anastacia Galloway Reed.

Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center staffers: (Back row – from L to R) — Sarah Bertucci, Christi Kelston, Dan Condon, and Michael Soguero. (Front row – from L to R) — Sebastian Franco and Anastacia Galloway Reed.

The noted business consultant, author, and lecturer on the subject of company sustainability and growth, Jim Collins, first offered up the notion of “20-Mile Marching” in his 2011 book, Great By Choice, and we here at Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center are particularly drawn to its implications about working smart and resting well in order to operate on a near-even keel as opposed to a constant roller-coaster ride.

And along the lines of “working smart,” we make a point once each year to arrive — as a group — at one client engagement that has asked for our expertise in facilitating the big picture work associated with reengaging youth in their own education. By traveling at least once per year as a complete team, we enjoy the bonus of Continue reading…

Fall 2017 Update from the Professional Development Center

Editor’s Note: Often traveling by themselves and sometimes as a team, Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center (PDC) staff works with educators and school administrators across the country with the goal in mind of ensuring high school becomes an engaging experience for youth.

We see all high schools as having the potential of being high-functioning centers of learning that are fueled by engagement. For more than two decades, we have facilitated school improvement and supported practices that foster each student’s unique potential, thus stimulating their minds, through the engagements we’ve facilitated under the work of our PDC.

Below is a list of what we’re working on this fall as our staff facilitates, convenes, supports, and participates with local schools spanning both coasts.

This schedule was compiled with support from Sebastian Franco, Eagle Rock’s Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development. The calendar is just a small illustration of what Eagle Rock does on a national scale, offering schools and communities of practice the tools necessary to develop their own youth engagement initiatives:

SEPTEMBER                                                                                       

Sept. 11

Toronto_HS

Toronto High School, Ohio Valley, Ohio — Toronto High School, part of the Toronto City Schools, is one of the newest facilities in eastern Ohio providing various enrichment opportunities for students. These include Destination Imagination (a program that teaches students the creative process and empowers them with the skills needed to succeed in an ever-changing world), science fairs, debate team, among others. The school also offers more than 30 semester hours of college credit as they prepare students for post-secondary education. Professional Development Associate Anastacia Galloway Reed revisited this school as it continues collaboration on implementing the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework.

Sept. 11 — 12… Continue reading…

School Foundry Incubator Launches with Eagle Rock’s Support

The situation at many of the nation’s secondary schools and school districts can be compared to purchasing a home in an older neighborhood. Sometimes all that is needed to make the space appropriate and usable is a fresh coat of paint and new carpeting. In other instances, faulty infrastructure of the home requires tearing it down to the studs and starting from scratch.

The same decisions hold true in the case of school improvement. In many cases, school districts are preparing the next generation of school leaders to run learning institutions that aren’t serving the unique and evolving needs of our nation’s students.

ER_SchoolFoundry_Large

Instead of putting the emphasis on the creation of innovative new schools or redesigning existing school systems, many educational leadership programs use the band-aid approach, focusing training on what’s generally observed as the status quo while doing little to improve professional development of school teachers and the administrators who support them.

Enter the Puget Sound Consortium for School Innovation (an initiative of Big Picture Learning), along with Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center. Our two organizations have joined forces to shake things up. Together, we believe that — much like a dilapidated ranch-style home — the nation’s education system should be revamped. What’s needed is a complete facelift, if you will, along with a deep dive to understand what is chronically failing our children in every region of the country.

Jeff Petty, the consortium’s director, and his colleagues are hard at work addressing two related problems: Continue reading…

Summer Break 2017 at Eagle Rock School

To paraphrase the American nonfiction writer Charles Bowden, summertime at Eagle Rock offers the best of what might be.

For new students who arrived in early-June, it’s the beginning of a new high school experience and the wilderness orientation trip that accompanies it. For our Public Allies fellows, it’s the end of an advanced year-long service and leadership development experience. And of course, summer signals the graduation of another group of Eagle Rock School students.

(Image ©2017 Joven Nichols)

(Image ©2017 Joven Nichols)

The summer months on our mountainside campus never fail to impress upon us some of the values we hold so dear — namely, that we choose to focus on continuous improvement and that we are a small organization with an outsized impact.

Along those lines, summer break at Eagle Rock School offers time for some staff, instructors, and administrators to regroup by focusing on Continue reading…