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…

Bay Area Educators Learn About Legacy During Eagle Rock Visit

Editor’s Note: Today’s post details a visit to Eagle Rock School by Nora Houseman, former principal of San Francisco Community School (SFC), and Jessica Fishman, a literary specialist at the school. SFC is a Small School by Design (SSD), meaning the school community selects its leader and the school district cannot under policy remove that person unless the leader is ineffective.

By Jessica Fishman, Literacy Specialist — San Francisco Community School

When Nora Houseman shared our intention to start a lab school and professional development center in San Francisco, a former Eagle Rock employee suggested we bring our vision to Michael Soguero and Dan Condon at Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center.

For years, Nora had heard wonderful stories about Eagle Rock, so we arrived with high expectations, eager to see the school and learn from Michael and Dan.

Aside from the stunning beauty of Estes Park and the campus, the first thing we noticed was a poster that read, “What’s Your Legacy?” That query highlights the Eagle Rock tradition of culminating student legacy projects. The second thing we spotted was a comfy communal meeting area full of colorful throw pillows and handpainted signs signaling various student-led clubs and activities.

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Everything at Eagle Rock — from the physical spaces to the carefully worded curriculum and the two- to four-student advisories — is intentionally designed to support the school’s mission of engagement and community.

Everyone is encouraged to pitch in and play a role, and that includes visitors. We had the opportunity to participate in a rousing game of Continue reading…

Eagle Rock School Summer Break Means Saying Goodbye and Hello

To date, it’s been an incredibly busy month here at Eagle Rock, what with the graduation of five Eagle Rock School students on Aug. 5, our end of the trimester staff meeting on Aug. 9, bidding farewell to nine of our Public Allies fellows on Aug. 12, and then shortly thereafter saying goodbye to four of our staffers.

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So a break in the schedule is well deserved and welcome. However, while students and some of the staff will be taking some time off, our Professional Development Center (PDC) staff remains on the job, working in California, the Ohio Valley, and Boulder. Look for the PDC’s latest update here on the blog soon.

Meanwhile, here’s the game plan beginning early next month: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Shines at Coalition of Essential Schools’ Fall Forum

Eagle Rock staff and students returned from Portland, Maine, last week, savoring the time they spent working with educators from around the country during this year’s Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) Fall Forum.

This was the 31st such fall conference and Kim Carter, executive director of the QED Foundation kicked things off with her reflections on how the Coalition of Essential Schools came about, reiterating the core ideas put forth in 1984 by CES founder Ted Seizer.

Afterward, Michael Soguero, Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center (PDC) director, said he loved Carter’s keynote that outlined the history and connections of CES over the decades. He said he was most impressed with how Seizer’s ideas presented way back in the 1980s are today entrenched in school practices. As examples, he cited advisories, demonstrations of mastery (such as Eagle Rock’s own Presentations Of Learning), interdisciplinary courses and more.

As in past forums, Eagle Rock played an active role this time around, with staff and students presenting three sessions at the conference that attracted more than Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock Professional Development Associate Anastacia Galloway

As a professional development associate, Anastacia Galloway does a lot more than just coordinate POLs (presentations of learning), recruit panelists and create schedules. In fact, most of her time is spent working with schools and organizations across the country to reengage youth in their own education.

Anastacia says it’s re-imagining what public education can look like in this country.

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In just the past year, Anastacia has worked in Vermont on everything from service thesis projects to proficiency-based graduation requirements. She has facilitated protocols with visiting groups on projects or dilemmas they are experiencing in their schools and facilitated workshops for our licensure candidates.

In addition, this fireball has supported Eagle Rock’s curriculum department by helping to implement student-centered coaching. And last year, she was a core member of our Professional Development Critical Friends group as well as director of the student-led Adult Mentor & Peer Mentor program.

Get to know Anastacia Galloway:

Eagle Rock: It sounds like you have a full plate, but are there other duties you perform at Eagle Rock?

Anastacia: Besides my work as the Professional Development Center (PDC) associate, I’m the house parent for Pinon house. In every sense of the word, house parents are parents — I am my students’ biggest fan and strongest supporter, and I will push them to the edges of their comfort zones. And that means when it comes to keeping their areas clean or becoming leaders in the house or throughout the Eagle Rock community. Four nights a week and one morning, I open my home to them where we cook, make coffee, hang out, and otherwise spend time together.

Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock?

Anastacia: Let’s see, prior to coming to Eagle Rock I had just imploded my life plan. In the fall of 2010, I was in law school with ambitions to become an advocate at The Hague International Court of Justice defending sex trafficking victims, persecuting traffickers and being part of war crime tribunals.

Although I excelled, I regularly pulled all nighters, and I found my personal relationships suffered, and the debt I was accruing was unreal. Reflecting on my motivation, I realized that I didn’t need to become an international attorney to be able to use my talents to contribute to society in a meaningful way.

Prior to going to law school, I spent 50 hours a week in a windowless office building as a logistics coordinator and purchasing specialist for a building supply company the size of Coca-Cola called Ferguson Enterprises.

After graduating in 2008 from West Virginia University with degrees in business and world language, I moved to Villahermosa in Mexico where I interned for a marketing and advertising company, Signo Communicaciones.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock?

Anastacia: Since I had just imploded my life plan, I moved to Estes Park with my partner, Kevin, with no idea what my next step would be. In January 2010 I applied for the registrar position at Eagle Rock, thinking, “Other than direct experience with high schoolers, I have the skills and experience to be the registrar.”

When I did my full-day interview, I fell in love with the Continue reading…