Summer 2017 Professional Development Center Update

Editor’s Note: The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center works with educators and schools committed to making high school a more engaging experience for our youth. That’s because we envision high schools as high functioning centers of learning that are fueled by engagement. Through our offerings (click here for a full list), we facilitate school improvement and support the implementation of engaging practices that foster each students’ unique potential and help young people use their minds well.

Below is a list that’s inclusive of where we’ve been thus far this spring, along with information about where our staff is headed between now and August. Complied by Eagle Rock’s 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development, Sebastian Franco, this list demonstrates just a portion of Eagle Rock’s relevance on a national scale, and offers inspiration for educators and schools interested in professional development initiatives of their own.

Traveling separately, and sometimes as a team, our professional development staff members facilitate, convene, support, participate and work with local schools through the following engagements:

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May 8 – 10: Austin Independent School District (AISD), Austin, TX — The Austin Independent School District is responsible for the quality of education in the Austin District of Texas. Its mission is to prepare students for college and beyond as they live in one of the best cities for working and living. Eagle Rock’s director of professional development, Michael Soguero, will continue working with the leadership of AISD, as it continues to develop and support an entrepreneurial education program. This is part of efforts to better prepare students for 21st century demands. Michael will be traveling with Eagle Rock Human Performance and Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist, Jon Anderson to continue working with AISD from June 26 – 30.

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May 11: Estes Park School District (EPSD), Estes Park, CO — 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. Sarah Bertucci, Professional Development Center Associate, and Sebastian Franco, Professional Development Center Public Allies Fellow, have supported the school district on outreach efforts in conjunction with the district’s Estes Thrives initiative. This Professional Development Center’s work focused Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Michael Soguero Highlights ‘Getting Smart’ Podcast

Michael Soguero, Eagle Rock’s director of professional development, discusses what he believes high-quality professional learning looks like — within the context of secondary education — and what it entails for educators in a recent podcast produced by Getting Smart.

The 20-minute podcast focuses on Michael’s take on the quality professional development offered through our Professional Development Center and how great teaching is the key to increasing student engagement. The Getting Smart Podcast covers topics in K-12, higher education and lifelong learning, with episodes that cover developments in educational research, technology and methods. Michael was interviewed by Emily Liebtag, herself a teacher in settings ranging from K-12 public schools to online institutions of higher learning.

As you listen using the embed above, you’ll hear as Michael uses the metaphor of a cooking school, stating that the concept of quality learning is based on teaching students how to cook with the ingredients to be found in their own kitchen. Calling it an “asset-based approach,” he said good educators begin by completing an inventory of the assets on hand.

“What we do is ask the folks that we work with,” Michael says, “what got your attention? What is it that you’re aspiring to (what is your vision)? And then we help them develop their own answer / version of that aspiration by building on their local context.”

Michael then goes on to say Continue reading…

Spring Break at Eagle Rock School is Worktime for Many Eagle Rockers

Eagle Rock School’s 71st trimester officially ended last week, with students from all points of the compass heading home for a well-deserved break. Same goes for many staff and instructional specialists — many are welcoming a short break afforded by the trimester cycle. But as you’ll see from reading on, not all who call Eagle Rock home are on break.

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Staff that are on break return to campus on Monday, May 8, followed by veteran students who come back on Sunday, May 14, to participate in some All School activities and house retreats before classes start on Monday, May 22.

Eagle Rock’s new students — the incoming group we’ll refer to as ER 72 — arrive on Saturday, May 20, just in time for a week of being on campus before heading out for their Continue reading…

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…

Eagle Rock Staffers Recommend Their Favorites Podcast Episodes

If you’re a frequent reader of our blog, you’ve noticed that our staff isn’t the least bit shy about recommending books and movies to our peers in progressive education. It is in that vein that we’re pleased to recommend the below episodes from among some of our staffers favorite podcasts. If one or more of them grab your attention, just click on the title and listen in:

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Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem? An episode from the Freakonomics Radio Podcast

This episode of the Freakonomics Radio Podcast goes to great lengths to explore the notion that maybe some students aren’t succeeding today because of teacher quality. While it’s true we spend more money per student than practically any other nation in the world, the U.S. education system is failing on many fronts — especially in math. It begs the question: Are our students getting the Continue reading…