Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center Staff Crisscrosses the Nation

If what Newton says is true, a body at motion will remain in motion unless it is halted, and so far this year, nothing has slowed down our Professional Development Center (PDC). Our PDC staff has been working nonstop since late summer, and there are still plenty of engagements to facilitate, guide and complete before year’s ends.

Since late summer, we’ve been working side by side with educators from throughout the country who borrow our expertise and experience in a continuing effort to retain, reinvigorate and re-engage young people in school districts spreading from Washington, D.C. to Washington State.

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In late August and the first week of September, PDC staffer Anastacia Galloway and world languages instructional specialist Brighid Scanlon visited Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in Bronx, N.Y., to launch peer observation cycles focused on Fred Newmann’s Authentic Intellectual Work framework. Teachers were asked to focus specifically on substantive conversation in the classroom.

Also in early September, PDC associate director Dan Condon visited Tech Leadership High School in Albuquerque, N.M., a project-based school that develops leaders in the technology field. These young students explore the technology, startup and business professions by engaging in collaborative work within in a small, supportive, school environment.

At the same time, Sarah spent three days at Innovations High School in Reno, Nev., focusing on learning that is relevant, interesting and vigorous. Sarah performed an assets observation of this “engaged learning” concept that she will use as examples at a work fair this winter.

Mid-September found our director of professional development, Michael Soguero, in Santa Fe, N.M., for youth summit meetings sponsored by the city of Santa Fe. Eagle Rock is a cosponsor of the 2015 Youth Summit, training local young people beforehand in the planning of this youth-oriented event. The summit is run on behalf of Santa Fe’s Children and Youth Commission and the youth recommendations gathered by Michael will be a source of a position paper drafted by the Santa Fe mayor’s office.

While in New Mexico, Michael attended a Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s PDC Checking Off Items on its “To-do” List

Once again, a quick look at our “to do” list here at Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center (PDC) shows we’re running in all directions to get things done. And by get things done, we mean working hand-in-hand with educators who seek us out for our expertise and thoughts in retaining, reinvigorating and re-engaging the students in their particular areas of the country.

In February, we hosted researchers from the University of Michigan to study our approach to personalized learning. Researcher Jeremy Golubcow-Teglasi heard of us through his study of the Big Picture design and connected to our work.

Later that month, on Feb. 25 and 26, Opportunity Nation heard from our very own Dan Condon (Associate Director of Professional Development) at a conference in Washington, D.C. (read: Eagle Rock Participates in National Opportunity Summit).

During that same week, Innovations High School in Reno, Nev., invited Sarah Bertucci from Eagle Rock and Eunice Mitchell from Big Picture Learning to collaborate on supporting staff as they shift into Year Two of their Big Picture journey. They have a well-established student culture in Year One and we are working to help them sharpen their focus on instructional practices going into Year Two.

In mid-March, we hosted representatives from Holy Heart of Mary High School (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada) and New Village Girls Academy (a Big Picture School) from Los Angeles. New Village was working on integrating outdoor education more seamlessly into their school, while Holy Heart was working toward more fully engaging their disengaged young people.

Later that month, we began a search for a new Public Allies Director to replace Mark Palmer, and that search resulted in the hiring of Christi Kramer from Family League of Baltimore.

Dan Condon was at MetWest High School on March 26 and 27 and we have been providing ongoing support for them around their strategic plan and making data-based decisions as they work toward achieving their goals.

At the end of March and into April we conducted observations of competency-based systems for the Iowa State Department of Education. We also visited a pair of school districts in Collins-Maxwell and Van Meter near Des Moines. This is all part of a larger project where our team is developing a cohort of trained student observers and interviewers to look at schools through the eyes of students. Our professional development center fellow, Kelsey Baun, has contributed significantly to the design and delivery of the student trainings and will soon accompany students to Iowa. Her efforts are part of her contribution as a Public Allies fellow to build Eagle Rock’s capacity to better use students to extend our national reach.

Also in early April, representatives from Innovations High School in Reno, Nev., and Big Picture Learning came to Eagle Rock for a leadership retreat focused on sharpening focus for the year ahead.

The second week of April saw Kelsey Baun travel with Eagle Rock students to conduct focus group interviews of students at four schools: Health Leadership High School, ACE Leadership High School, South Valley Academy and Amy Biehl High School (all in Albuquerque, N.M.). The intent here is to assist our partners at New Mexico Center for School Leadership to better understand personalized learning.

Below are some of the activities scheduled from now through the next several months. If you would like to know more about our work or how your school or organization can work with our Professional Development Center, please contact our associate director of professional development, Dan Condon, by emailing DCondon at EagleRockSchool dot org.

April 20 — 24, and May 27

Eagle Rock’s professional development associate, Anastacia Galloway, is leading our work in Bronx, N.Y., at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School (FLHFHS). There, Anastacia is following up on two previous FLHFHS visits focused on deploying Fred Newmann’s Authentic Intellectual Framework. This time around Anastacia is Continue reading…

How Non-Cognitive Variables Fit Into Today’s Schools

By Michael Soguero and Sarah Bertucci

Michael-SogueroOne of the advantages of working at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center is our good fortune to interact with so many different educational organizations. As a result, we sometimes see patterns or themes emerge among these disparate organizations that they can’t observe as single entities.

One of these themes we see emerging is the use of non-cognitive variables in such places as Albuquerque, Vermont or — on a national level — with the Big Picture Learning organization.

Sarah-Bertucci-eagle-rock2Before we get far into this, it’s important to note that terminology can be confusing. Whether in regional areas of work, specific organization decisions, or in the research literature, the term non-cognitive variable is sometimes known as meta-cognitive variables, interpersonal skills — and persistence and grit.

The norm for education has always been cognitive in nature, involving conscious mental activities such as memorization, rote learning and recitation. But to us, it seems intuitive that success in life — and what we hope for our students — is not just academic content knowledge.

There’s something more to the question, “What exactly is the purpose of school?” Take emotional intelligence, social skills and street smarts, for example. These are all elusive qualities that are challenging to name and measure, but most important in getting along in life.

Among our inspirations is Grant Wiggins’ March 2011 article A Diploma Worth Having, published in the ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) publication Educational Leadership. He wrote: Continue reading…