Professional Development from Eagle Rock Continues its Blistering Pace

Our staff returned last week from our most recent trimester break, and most Eagle Rock School students are back this week as we kick off what is arguably the best part of the year — summer trimester.

Classes for returning Eagle Rock School students begin on Monday, May 20, while our new incoming class of students is set to arrive on campus on Tuesday, May 21. The following Monday the new students head off for our school’s traditional three-week Wilderness Orientation program that is a requirement for all new Eagle Rock School students.

Not only are we enjoying the bright sunshine and longer days in Colorado, but we are also initiating the school’s 78th trimester — also known as ER 78. And while administrators, staff, instructors and students take on the work of reengaging in education here in Estes Park, our Professional Development Center (PDC) facilitating school improvement workshops throughout the country as well as hosting educators here on campus in Estes Park. In this post, we bring you the latest update on the working engagements of the PDC.

As you can see below, we have listed the schedule of professional development deliveries that we are hosting, participating in, or offering from now until the middle of August. Continue reading…

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…

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…