Classroom Culture Works When Teachers and Students Construct Norms

Every other Wednesday, our Eagle Rock School instructional team convenes for a professional development session that revolves around a predetermined annual theme. The theme this year is classroom culture, which rests on the notion that effective teaching and learning best take place in a healthy classroom culture built on high support and high expectations.

Among the founding principles of our organization is the simple idea we are all in this together, and it takes everyone — staff and students alike — all pulling the oars in the same direction to make a place as unique as the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center truly work. However, in order to effectively pull those paddles, there needs to be a solid foundation of trust and acceptance. We believe this foundation inside the classroom is built on classroom norms, which have a decisive impact on culture.

School Reform

Educational researchers Robert and Kana Marzano explain this foundation in their article entitled The Key to Classroom Management (PDF file). They write, “Research has shown us that teachers’ actions in their classrooms have twice the impact on student achievement as do school policies regarding curriculum, assessment, staff collegiality and community involvement.”

We couldn’t agree more! Healthy classrooms help teachers react to Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellow Develops His Own ‘Sense of Place’

jordan-cernaI arrived at Eagle Rock School a year ago as a contract instructor tasked with co-facilitating a wilderness experience for new students. The 38-day contract was to help provide a wilderness experience in which all incoming Eagle Rock School students must participate prior to becoming an official member of the Eagle Rock community.

While getting to know many students and staff at Eagle Rock during those initial days, I began to feel the connection and commitment these educators and kids had to their environment. Whether it was an educational opportunity or a place of employment, each individual knew they belonged to something very special.

This mountainside setting simply felt like a force of influence. As we all settled into our new environment, I saw students taking time from their learning environment to work on personal growth. I saw staff members who told me they returned to Eagle Rock after trying out new positions in other locations with other organizations. What powerful bond brought these individuals back to Eagle Rock?

As I walked the trails on campus and wandered around the rustic buildings in town, I purposely spent a lot o Continue reading…

Understanding Eagle Rock’s ‘Service Saturday’

Service to the community and to those less fortunate has always been in Eagle Rock’s DNA. We’re fortunate — we have numerous opportunities to provide community service, which we define as “a selfless contribution that helps and assists others, and which creates a positive impact.”

Saturday Service at Eagle Rock School

These “give back” opportunities are outside of our students’ regular responsibilities and discipline-related obligations, and offer on- and off-campus services that contribute to the well being or preservation of the broader local community (which Eagle Rock is part of).

Prior to the spring of 2016, Saturday mornings here at Eagle Rock operated as a half current events gathering that was followed by a Saturday seminar. These session, known as Saturday Seminar, were operated as Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Jack Hilbrich, Adjunct Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist

Jack Hilbrich is a huge part of our outdoor education department, responsible for stewarding our wilderness curriculum, as well as instructing and supervising on our new student wilderness course each trimester. A semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) launched his career as a course director, taking Jack to the deserts of the American Southwest, the Northwoods of Canada and other wildernesses areas. We caught up with Jack — who previously served as our 2014-15 Public Allies Fellow in Outdoor Education — in between paddling, biking and ice hockey to ask him about another favorite interest: Eagle Rock School.

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

Jack Hilbrich: Prior to coming to Eagle Rock I worked as a Continue reading…

Applicants Sought for Eagle Rock’s Public Allies Fellowship Program

Public Allies Eagle RockIn just five short months, Eagle Rock’s 2015-2016 Public Allies Fellows have made significant impacts on our community, and have helped better serve our students, as well as our national mission that supports re-engaging high school youth in their own education.

A few of their initiatives include the development of new courses, including Other Worlds, Street Art as Social Action, Alternative Energy, Call of Duty, The Shape of Space, and Holocaust & Indigenous Genocide. In addition, these dozen 2015/2016 Public Allies fellows were instrumental in creating new student programs, such as our Writing Center, Workout Warriors, Youth Radio, along with affinity groups and support mechanisms that foster a healthier culture around sexual health and relationships.

Michael Grant, our Music Fellow, established regular Instructional Fellow meetings on his own initiative to discuss and reflect on experiences in the classroom. Our Residential Life fellow, Aranda Salazar, is defining her newly created position by creating a more structured and engaging curriculum for out-of-class time.

When not on wilderness trips, Monse Alvarez, our Outdoor Education Fellow, has been translating our outdoor education materials into Spanish, and is eager to help support literacy across the Eagle Rock curriculum within her department.

With the help of Claire Oliphant, our Visual Arts fellow, Mia Stroutsos has taken lead on a new project in Santa Fe, N.M., as our Professional Development Center fellow. In that capacity, she is partnering students from an underserved community with a video storytelling nonprofit called Little Globe in order to tell their stories.

These are just a sampling of the projects and initiatives our Public Allies fellows are engaged in. All 12 of them are making their mark on Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellows 1

These are huge accomplishments that, without question, will Continue reading…