Summer 2018 Professional Development Center Update

Editor’s Note: Whenever the summer months begin to make themselves known, you can be certain Eagle Rock School’s Professional Development Center (PDC) staff is fully immersed in working with schools and learning organizations throughout the United States with the mandate of helping engage students in their own education.

Our knowledgeable Professional Development staff is on a tight schedule that continues through the summer months, visiting teachers and administrators at high schools in cities across the nation. For a quarter of a century, our PDC staff has been tasked with facilitating high-functioning oases of education — one school at a time.

Below is the ambitious schedule for Summer 2018 that includes areas where we’ve already met with educators and what’s on the agenda for the remainder of the summer season. The schedule was painstakingly prepared by Sebastian Franco, our 2017/2018 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development.

MAY 2018

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May 10

Toronto High School, Toronto, Ohio: Toronto High School, part of the Toronto City Schools, provides various enrichment opportunities for students, including Destination Imagination, science fairs, and the debate team. The district offers more than 30 semester hours of college credit as it prepares students for post-secondary education. Eagle Rock Professional Development Associate Anastacia Galloway Reed and Professional Development Center Public Allies Fellow Sebastian Franco conducted an asset observation throughout various classrooms, based on the Universal Design for Learning model.

May 10

Estes Park School District (EPSD), Estes Park, Colo.: The EPSD is in charge of all education programs in the Estes Valley area and its focus is to prepare students to shine as citizens in a world that is increasingly diverse and technological. Professional Development Associate Sarah Bertucci  worked on essential learning outcomes with the school district’s superintendent and teacher leaders on the district’s Global Outcomes team.

May 11

I Have a Dream Foundation (IHAD), Boulder, Colo.: iHAD of Boulder provides support and resources to high school students by helping them graduate and achieve their dreams of attending college. Most students in the program have the opportunity to Continue reading…

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.

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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…

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.

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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…

How Non-Cognitive Variables Fit Into Today’s Schools

By Michael Soguero and Sarah Bertucci

Michael-SogueroOne of the advantages of working at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center is our good fortune to interact with so many different educational organizations. As a result, we sometimes see patterns or themes emerge among these disparate organizations that they can’t observe as single entities.

One of these themes we see emerging is the use of non-cognitive variables in such places as Albuquerque, Vermont or — on a national level — with the Big Picture Learning organization.

Sarah-Bertucci-eagle-rock2Before we get far into this, it’s important to note that terminology can be confusing. Whether in regional areas of work, specific organization decisions, or in the research literature, the term non-cognitive variable is sometimes known as meta-cognitive variables, interpersonal skills — and persistence and grit.

The norm for education has always been cognitive in nature, involving conscious mental activities such as memorization, rote learning and recitation. But to us, it seems intuitive that success in life — and what we hope for our students — is not just academic content knowledge.

There’s something more to the question, “What exactly is the purpose of school?” Take emotional intelligence, social skills and street smarts, for example. These are all elusive qualities that are challenging to name and measure, but most important in getting along in life.

Among our inspirations is Grant Wiggins’ March 2011 article A Diploma Worth Having, published in the ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) publication Educational Leadership. He wrote: Continue reading…