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 Students Dive Into Professional Development

Students at Eagle Rock School are beginning to play an important role in the work done by our Professional Development Center (PDC). Starting with some rapid prototypes, we’ve experienced impressive results thus far. Here was our best thinking, which brought us to where we are today:

Eagle Rock students can offer unique contributions to our professional development offerings because, unlike adults, they have a vastly different perspective on education. And when we involve them in our on-site consultations and work with schools around the country, they have the inside track when it comes to interviewing other students for their particular take on issues and projects we’re working on.

JHP_0002To be sure, participating Eagle Rock students also benefit from this partnership. They gain important skills that will serve them well after graduation. Things like professionalism, organization, interview skills, and knowledge about change processes.

Like we said, the results so far have been impressive. For example, in Vermont, six of our students participated in trainings about assets-based change, assets observations, and appreciative interviews. Student Myles Grant-Pollack traveled with Sarah Bertucci and Anastacia Galloway, two of our PDC associates, to Winooski, Vt., to conduct an assets inventory for the Winooski Middle/High School (WMHS).

Winooski has determined that Physical, Social, and Emotional Well-Being are among their graduation expectations and the school is now working on articulating the key aspects of well-being that they desire their students embolden. Once those are established, they will work on how to assess well-being.

Myles worked on the assets inventory in order for WMHS educators to see where their students are in terms of learning aspects of well-being. This meant that he observed classes, hallways, and Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s PDC Checking Off Items on its “To-do” List

Once again, a quick look at our “to do” list here at Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center (PDC) shows we’re running in all directions to get things done. And by get things done, we mean working hand-in-hand with educators who seek us out for our expertise and thoughts in retaining, reinvigorating and re-engaging the students in their particular areas of the country.

In February, we hosted researchers from the University of Michigan to study our approach to personalized learning. Researcher Jeremy Golubcow-Teglasi heard of us through his study of the Big Picture design and connected to our work.

Later that month, on Feb. 25 and 26, Opportunity Nation heard from our very own Dan Condon (Associate Director of Professional Development) at a conference in Washington, D.C. (read: Eagle Rock Participates in National Opportunity Summit).

During that same week, Innovations High School in Reno, Nev., invited Sarah Bertucci from Eagle Rock and Eunice Mitchell from Big Picture Learning to collaborate on supporting staff as they shift into Year Two of their Big Picture journey. They have a well-established student culture in Year One and we are working to help them sharpen their focus on instructional practices going into Year Two.

In mid-March, we hosted representatives from Holy Heart of Mary High School (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada) and New Village Girls Academy (a Big Picture School) from Los Angeles. New Village was working on integrating outdoor education more seamlessly into their school, while Holy Heart was working toward more fully engaging their disengaged young people.

Later that month, we began a search for a new Public Allies Director to replace Mark Palmer, and that search resulted in the hiring of Christi Kramer from Family League of Baltimore.

Dan Condon was at MetWest High School on March 26 and 27 and we have been providing ongoing support for them around their strategic plan and making data-based decisions as they work toward achieving their goals.

At the end of March and into April we conducted observations of competency-based systems for the Iowa State Department of Education. We also visited a pair of school districts in Collins-Maxwell and Van Meter near Des Moines. This is all part of a larger project where our team is developing a cohort of trained student observers and interviewers to look at schools through the eyes of students. Our professional development center fellow, Kelsey Baun, has contributed significantly to the design and delivery of the student trainings and will soon accompany students to Iowa. Her efforts are part of her contribution as a Public Allies fellow to build Eagle Rock’s capacity to better use students to extend our national reach.

Also in early April, representatives from Innovations High School in Reno, Nev., and Big Picture Learning came to Eagle Rock for a leadership retreat focused on sharpening focus for the year ahead.

The second week of April saw Kelsey Baun travel with Eagle Rock students to conduct focus group interviews of students at four schools: Health Leadership High School, ACE Leadership High School, South Valley Academy and Amy Biehl High School (all in Albuquerque, N.M.). The intent here is to assist our partners at New Mexico Center for School Leadership to better understand personalized learning.

Below are some of the activities scheduled from now through the next several months. If you would like to know more about our work or how your school or organization can work with our Professional Development Center, please contact our associate director of professional development, Dan Condon, by emailing DCondon at EagleRockSchool dot org.

April 20 — 24, and May 27

Eagle Rock’s professional development associate, Anastacia Galloway, is leading our work in Bronx, N.Y., at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School (FLHFHS). There, Anastacia is following up on two previous FLHFHS visits focused on deploying Fred Newmann’s Authentic Intellectual Framework. This time around Anastacia is Continue reading…

Sustainable Solutions in Education Supported by our Professional Development Center

At Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, staff and students alike share in the principles of positive growth and addressing the greater good.

And while Eagle Rock’s backdrop is beautiful Estes Park in Colorado, our Professional Development Center team travels throughout the United States, engaging in the improvement of other learning institutions through consulting and coaching. This spring, that “greater good” took our PDC staffers to Albuquerque, N.M., where they worked with three new charter high schools — all part of the New Mexico Center for School Leadership — and all at various points in their development.

The New Mexico Center for School Leadership currently consists of three leadership high schools:

The center, founded by Tony Monfiletto, is dedicated to the premise that “learning by doing, positive youth development and the highest level of private industry collaboration, results in schools that can dramatically improve the graduation rates in our (their) community.”

As the New Mexico Center for School Leadership grows, we provide guidance and support through professional development, aiding in teacher learning, community development, metric development and any number of other projects.

Participants discussion designing new metrics.

Participants discuss designing new metrics.

At Health Leadership High School, where our focus is on aiding teacher learning, our Professional Development Team recently engaged staff in a session on improving group-work in the classroom. Dan Condon, associate director of professional development, engaged teachers through Continue reading…

Innovative Interview Process Finds Innovative Teachers

Opening a new charter school is challenging, yet energizing in so many ways. Over the past few months I have worked as the primary contact of the school. Often times it can feel a bit isolating. However, beginning the process of hiring staff to join me on this journey is exciting. Knowing we are creating a team energized by each other, willing to become trailblazers in school reform, and eager to think from a new perspective gives me a sense of hope and confidence in the work we will embark on with our students at Health Leadership High School.

As an experienced principal, I approach the process of hiring new teachers with a bit of uncertainty and hesitation. I always hope to bring in teachers with positive attitudes, teachers that are enthusiastic about their contribution to their school and society through their work as a classroom teacher. As I look at bringing on new teachers to our staff, I also have to be cognizant of the effect the culture of the school will have on the teachers’ ability to work with students.

Often new teachers coming into the culture of the school are affected by veteran teachers. Their colleagues influence these new teachers as they navigate the culture of the school. Colleagues disenchanted with the work of the school may have a damaging effect on these new teachers and their longevity in the field of education.

In addition to bringing new teachers into an established culture of the school, I often had little choice in the teachers I could hire each year. District offices often give principals a ‘must-hire list’ that includes teachers who need to be placed in other schools due to budget constraints at their current school, as well as other issues that may cause them to be placed on this list. Prior to hiring teachers who apply directly to the school or may be applying from outside of the district, I must hire these teachers who are often placed to work in my school. This process of placing teachers in schools forces the school leader to Continue reading…