Spring 2017 Update from the Professional Development Center

Since beginning my Public Allies Fellowship with Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center last fall, I have taken note of the many traits that make our professional development team so successful.

As background, the Professional Development Center team is charged with executing on a mission to support schools (we refer to them as “partners”) around the country to increase high school student engagement. What is not well known is that the team provides those services to our partners at no cost to them, and our team consists of just four facilitators who regularly provide our services. This presents an interesting challenge as we cannot increase our headcount despite the ever-increasing demand for our services.

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To meet that challenge, the team has developed a set of practices characterized by working smarter rather than harder. Hallmarks of the team’s practice include organization, efficiency, and constant communication among staffers. Everyone understands what the goals are for each trimester and how their portfolio of partners needs to be shaped for maximum impact.

In normal circumstances, observing such traits among a high-functioning team should be a simple matter. But circumstances here at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center are not normal, with all six members of the professional development team constantly Continue reading…

Summer Institute Helps Educators and Students Grow Equity Together

Editor’s Note: Courtney Coleman of Harlem, N.Y., arrived at Eagle Rock in May of 2015 as a member of ER66 (the 66th trimester since our founding in the early-1990s). This blog post describes Courtney’s exposure to, and experience with, Eagle Rock’s Growing Equity Together Project, where our young author discovered the difference between Equity and Equality and helped to coordinate and facilitate Eagle Rock’s Summer Institute for educators seeking to improve equity at their schools.

By Courtney Coleman

The first seeds of the Growing Equity Together Project were planted in 1994, when Sarah Bertucci, Eagle Rock’s professional development associate, was an intern during Eagle Rock’s first summer in existence.

Eagle Rock is known for its positive influence on people. Sarah was one of the early staff members who were changed forever by getting to know Eagle Rock students and seeing them thrive in our innovative learning environment.

Her summer internship was Sarah’s first experience working in a non-traditional high school. As she adjusted her lessons and provided individualized support to meet students’ needs, she experienced what equity entailed, even though she didn’t yet call it by that name. This was also her first exposure to deeper learning — an approach to learning that focuses on knowing a smaller set of topics in depth while developing lifelong learning skills, rather than covering vast amounts of information at a surface level. Sarah says Eagle Rock internship is what inspired her to become a teacher.

Educator and student participants — Eagle Rock's 2016 Summer Institute.

Educator and student participants — Eagle Rock’s 2016 Summer Institute.

The Growing Equity Together Project was inspired by Sarah’s Deeper Learning and Equity fellowship. Part of the fellowship included a capstone project, so Sarah designed a project with three parts: Continue reading…

Spring 2016 Update from the Professional Development Center

“Plan your work, then work your plan.” I’m not sure who said it first or if it really matters. All I know is if you decide in advance precisely how you’re going to get from where you are to where you want to be, you stand a much better chance of getting there.

At the level of the lowest common denominator, that’s the essence of any plan, including Eagle Rock’s strategic plan for 2015-2020, aptly titled Vision 2020. And as I shared just last week here on the Eagle Rock Blog (see: Strategic Plan Update: National Contribution), the Professional Development Center team is hard at work facilitating programs, trainings and other custom offerings that lead the high schools with whom we work to transform themselves into high-functioning centers of engagement and learning.

Eagle Rock Professional Development Center Update June 2016

More than half of Eagle Rock School’s instructional specialists — those educators who work within our own school — are now engaged in supporting this national mission-related work, along with the entire professional development center team. As a reminder, “national contribution” is the fifth domain within our strategic plan, a document that enables us to fulfill our organization’s mission and make significant steps toward realizing our vision. And, of course, that vision is that this country’s high school youth be fully engaged in their education.

The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center staff kicked off the spring by actively participating in a number of seminars, retreats, focus groups, workshops and educational events across the country, including the ones mentioned below. If you would like to know more about our work — or how your school or organization can work with the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center — please contact Dan Condon, our associate director of professional development, by emailing DCondon at EagleRockSchool dot org.

May 2 and 3

The Professional Development staff traveled to the Ryan Banks Academy in Chicago, helping to develop STEM and Humanities curriculum for the academy, which is an urban boarding school scheduled to open in September 2017.

May 2 and 3

Our staff also attended an advisory leader retreat to develop advisory vision and plans at Randolph Union High School in Randolph, Vermont.

May 4 and 5

We conducted asset-based observations and appreciative interviews with the staff of Continue reading…

Winter 2016 Update from the Professional Development Center

Maintaining its vision that this country’s high school youth should be fully engaged in their education, our professional development center (PDC) team started off the New Year the same way they start every week — busy and engaged.

The PDC staff kicked off the new year with Dan Condon, associate director of professional development, and Mia Stroutsos, our 2015/2016 PDC Public Allies fellow, making their way to New Mexico for four separate leadership events. Our PDC associate, Anastacia Galloway spent that same week providing follow-up support for Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School (FLHFHS) in the Bronx, New York, where we are engaged in a multi-year project to institute peer observations.

On Jan. 5, Dan Condon found himself in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for leadership support of Tech Leadership High School’s senior management team where he spoke on the importance of intersecting technology with pedagogy for the next generation of students. And on the next day, he visited ACE Leadership High School for project tuning, and then attended an event for a soon-to-open charter school focused on entrepreneurship.

Siembra Leadership is the latest school we support through our work with the New Mexico Center for School Leadership. Mia Stroutsos and Dan Condon wrapped up their stay in Albuquerque by focusing on supporting formative assessment in the classroom for the Health Leadership staff.

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Anastacia Galloway’s four-day visit to New York included a follow-up visit with the staff at FLHFHS where, through a series of class visits and teacher interviews, she surfaced the most successful practices for integrating peer-coaching into their professional learning plans.

It was a busy week, but the PDC team is just getting warmed up. Here’s a quick look at what’s to come in the next few months: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center Staff Crisscrosses the Nation

If what Newton says is true, a body at motion will remain in motion unless it is halted, and so far this year, nothing has slowed down our Professional Development Center (PDC). Our PDC staff has been working nonstop since late summer, and there are still plenty of engagements to facilitate, guide and complete before year’s ends.

Since late summer, we’ve been working side by side with educators from throughout the country who borrow our expertise and experience in a continuing effort to retain, reinvigorate and re-engage young people in school districts spreading from Washington, D.C. to Washington State.

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In late August and the first week of September, PDC staffer Anastacia Galloway and world languages instructional specialist Brighid Scanlon visited Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in Bronx, N.Y., to launch peer observation cycles focused on Fred Newmann’s Authentic Intellectual Work framework. Teachers were asked to focus specifically on substantive conversation in the classroom.

Also in early September, PDC associate director Dan Condon visited Tech Leadership High School in Albuquerque, N.M., a project-based school that develops leaders in the technology field. These young students explore the technology, startup and business professions by engaging in collaborative work within in a small, supportive, school environment.

At the same time, Sarah spent three days at Innovations High School in Reno, Nev., focusing on learning that is relevant, interesting and vigorous. Sarah performed an assets observation of this “engaged learning” concept that she will use as examples at a work fair this winter.

Mid-September found our director of professional development, Michael Soguero, in Santa Fe, N.M., for youth summit meetings sponsored by the city of Santa Fe. Eagle Rock is a cosponsor of the 2015 Youth Summit, training local young people beforehand in the planning of this youth-oriented event. The summit is run on behalf of Santa Fe’s Children and Youth Commission and the youth recommendations gathered by Michael will be a source of a position paper drafted by the Santa Fe mayor’s office.

While in New Mexico, Michael attended a Continue reading…