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.

photo for virtual protocol

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…

Summer Break 2017 at Eagle Rock School

To paraphrase the American nonfiction writer Charles Bowden, summertime at Eagle Rock offers the best of what might be.

For new students who arrived in early-June, it’s the beginning of a new high school experience and the wilderness orientation trip that accompanies it. For our Public Allies fellows, it’s the end of an advanced year-long service and leadership development experience. And of course, summer signals the graduation of another group of Eagle Rock School students.

(Image ©2017 Joven Nichols)

(Image ©2017 Joven Nichols)

The summer months on our mountainside campus never fail to impress upon us some of the values we hold so dear — namely, that we choose to focus on continuous improvement and that we are a small organization with an outsized impact.

Along those lines, summer break at Eagle Rock School offers time for some staff, instructors, and administrators to regroup by focusing on Continue reading…

Artist in Residence Highlights Summer 2017 Explore Week

As if a selection of diverse and interesting courses weren’t enough, we’re adding Scott James to our Explore Week mix this time around, which means this poet and artist is on campus and meeting with students all week long.

As our official “Artist in Residence,” during Explore Week, Scott is in the midst, on the periphery and face-to-face with students every day this week. In fact, during most lunch and dinner hours, he’s poised over his vintage typewriter, ready for a good poetic challenge. The deal is, any Eagle Rock School student can walk up to Scott and offer a word — any word — for inspiration and Scott will write an original poem around that word. In fact, that’s pretty much his specialty, and a few years ago he churned out and gave away more than 1,000 such impromptu poems.

An Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellow in ER 40-42 (that would be the 40th through 42nd semesters since Eagle Rock’s founding in the 1990s), Scott currently resides in Austin, Tex., where he performs his instant typewriter poetry for events and parties, and helps writers turn their ideas into published books. His tools of trade include a 1946 Smith-Corona and he uses high-quality and handcrafted papers and techniques in his art that blend improvisation, metaphor and classic poetry.

Scott’s artistic career has included performance around the country, including Chris Guillebau’s World Domination Summit and Austin’s SxSW Interactive festival. And during Explore Week, this poet is available for one-on-one sessions with students. He’s also sitting in on several courses and conducting four workshops.

Meanwhile, for the students themselves, they’re all participating in one of the following course offerings: Continue reading…

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:

MAY

AISD_Logo

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.

EPSD

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…

2017 Public Allies Fellows Tackling a Trio of Team Service Projects

Among the many responsibilities taken on each year by Eagle Rock’s cohort of Public Allies Fellows are Team Service Projects (TSP). This time around, our 2016/2017 fellows have their eyes set on three such projects that are expected to come to a close by the end of this summer.

Taking a step back for a moment, each year, we offer full-time apprenticeships to 12 Public Allies Fellows from across the nation. These fellowships provide an advanced year-long service and leadership development experience at our full-scholarship residential high school in Estes Park, Colo. Once here, the fellows are tasked with working with our educators in re-engaging, retaining and graduating our most prized assets — our students — many of whom have not found success in conventional school settings.

Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellows

Once on campus and acclimated to their new roles, each fellow participates in a Team Service Project that seeks to recognize the assets of a community instead of approaching communities in a needs-based manner. In small groups of fellows — and in partnership with community members — members of the cohort create, implement and evaluate a service project with sustainable and lasting positive impact.

What we offer below are updates to three such projects that have been taken on by our Public Allies Fellows: Continue reading…