Spring 2017 Update from the Professional Development Center

Since beginning my Public Allies Fellowship with Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center last fall, I have taken note of the many traits that make our professional development team so successful.

As background, the Professional Development Center team is charged with executing on a mission to support schools (we refer to them as “partners”) around the country to increase high school student engagement. What is not well known is that the team provides those services to our partners at no cost to them, and our team consists of just four facilitators who regularly provide our services. This presents an interesting challenge as we cannot increase our headcount despite the ever-increasing demand for our services.

Professional-Development-Center-Update-Eagle-Rock

To meet that challenge, the team has developed a set of practices characterized by working smarter rather than harder. Hallmarks of the team’s practice include organization, efficiency, and constant communication among staffers. Everyone understands what the goals are for each trimester and how their portfolio of partners needs to be shaped for maximum impact.

In normal circumstances, observing such traits among a high-functioning team should be a simple matter. But circumstances here at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center are not normal, with all six members of the professional development team constantly Continue reading…

CES Gathering Provides Educational Participants with the Essentials

Earlier this month, the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) – a national organization that works to create and sustain equitable, intellectually vibrant, personalized schools and to make such schools the norm of American public education — held an extraordinary national gathering in Providence, R.I., where its work first began back in 1984.

Called Fall Forum 2016, this most recent event featured a gathering of educators and progressive education advocates skilled at — and committed to — student-focused, teacher-led, equitable, and challenging learning.

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During the Dec. 1-3 event, participants reflected on the work of the Coalition of Essential Schools, the contributions of CES Founder Ted Sizer and generations of CES educators, the inheritors and sustainers of CES’s work, and the future of schools led by the passions of students and teachers.

Eagle Rockers in attendance included Jeff Liddle, Head of School; Dan Condon, Associate Director of Professional Development; Sarah Bertucci, Professional Development Center Associate; and Eagle Rock students Nigel Taylor and Soren Arvidson.

On Thursday evening of the event, Dan and the students attended a viewing of the film Most Likely to Succeed, followed by discussion with local and national education change leaders. (As an aside, if you haven’t watched Most Likely to Succeed, add it to your list. Many people are saying it’s the best film ever made on the topic of Continue reading…

Winooski School Tackles Equity in Personalization

Editor’s Note: Inspired by Sarah Bertucci, our professional development associate, Eagle Rock is leading five schools through a yearlong project with the objective of improving equity at those schools by means of independent projects. Last summer, Growing Equity Together was launched with representatives from all five schools gathering on at our campus in Estes Park, Colo., to make plans. Today’s post is an update from Winooski Middle/High School — one of the five schools involved in this innovative program.

From Lindsey Cox, iLab Humanities Teacher — Winooski Middle/High School

As one of the schools participating in The Growing Equity Together Project, Winooski Middle/High School is nearing the end of its first continuous improvement cycle aimed at supporting students in Grades 6 through 9.

ilab-winooski-logoThe objective is to develop the confidence these youngsters need to be successful when working on personalized learning projects.

Winooski is a small town in northwest Vermont that also serves as one of our nation’s refugee resettlement locations. Our middle/high school has about 380 students in grades 6-12 with about 30 percent being English Language Learning (ELL) students and 70 percent qualifying for free or reduced lunch status.

Over the past four years, Winooski has benefited from being part of a student-centered learning grant in collaboration with Burlington High School in Burlington, Vt., with funding from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

The grant effort, known as the Partnership for Change, has supported educators in shifting their teaching and learning systems to be more student-centered by being more personalized and proficiency-based. Simultaneously, legislation passed in 2013 known as (PDF) Act 77: The Flexible Pathways Bill (PDF), mandates a progressive educational agenda for the entire state because it requires all students — beginning with the class of 2020 — to graduate based on proficiencies instead of Carnegie units.

Act 77 also requires students in grades 7 through 12 to Continue reading…

Fall 2016 Professional Development Center Update

Editor’s Note: Sebastian Franco, the 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development, is the latest guest author to contribute to the Eagle Rock Blog. Sebastian hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, by way of Los Angeles, Calif. He recently graduated from Colorado State University with a double degree in political science and international studies and a minor in Spanish. As one of his first opportunities in the PDC (Professional Development Center), Sebastian gathered the information for and wrote today’s Eagle Rock blog post.

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Fall 2016 Professional Development Center Update
By Sebastian Franco — 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development

This year I have the opportunity to be part of the Public Allies Fellowship program working with the Professional Development Center (PDC) and the rest of the team here at Eagle Rock.

Having the opportunity to work with the PDC team allows me to understand further the education system around the country and how we can try to provide resources and chances to improve the quality of education our future generation of students will receive. This is something that I’ve been interested in since my sophomore year at Colorado State University. That’s where I started researching and learning the various styles or professional development employed by education systems around the world.

By being part of Public Allies 2016/17 cohort of Eagle Rock fellows, I have the opportunity to learn more about this interest of mine through events, trips, and connections I will experience throughout the next year. This opportunity will enable me to connect with various professionals in the field and learn first-hand what is needed by the education community. One of my first experiences will be a trip to the Ohio Valley, which encompasses portions of Ohio and West Virginia.

The structure of this trip is, of course, new to me, but it turns out this is only the second time in three years that the entire PDC team is traveling together to an event. The idea is to provide an opportunity for each member of the team to experience and see each other’s style of communication and interactions with the community and sponsors.

Throughout the year, each member of the PDC team manages a “portfolio” of clients around the country, creating limited opportunities to travel together as a team. This also allows myself, as the novice PDC fellow, a chance to observe everyone’s approach and style and have a better understanding of what my responsibilities will entail for the remainder of my fellowship.

Estes Park Colorado Trees Fall 2016

Although the Ohio Valley trip is an exciting rarity, there are many other events scheduled throughout the current trimester, most of which are listed below. If you want to learn more about the work we do at Eagle Rock, or how your school or organization can connect with the PDC, contact Dan Condon (associate director of professional development) by emailing DCondon at EagleRockSchool dot org.

In the meantime, below is a detailed rundown of our Fall 2016 engagements: Continue reading…

Summer Institute Helps Educators and Students Grow Equity Together

Editor’s Note: Courtney Coleman of Harlem, N.Y., arrived at Eagle Rock in May of 2015 as a member of ER66 (the 66th trimester since our founding in the early-1990s). This blog post describes Courtney’s exposure to, and experience with, Eagle Rock’s Growing Equity Together Project, where our young author discovered the difference between Equity and Equality and helped to coordinate and facilitate Eagle Rock’s Summer Institute for educators seeking to improve equity at their schools.

By Courtney Coleman

The first seeds of the Growing Equity Together Project were planted in 1994, when Sarah Bertucci, Eagle Rock’s professional development associate, was an intern during Eagle Rock’s first summer in existence.

Eagle Rock is known for its positive influence on people. Sarah was one of the early staff members who were changed forever by getting to know Eagle Rock students and seeing them thrive in our innovative learning environment.

Her summer internship was Sarah’s first experience working in a non-traditional high school. As she adjusted her lessons and provided individualized support to meet students’ needs, she experienced what equity entailed, even though she didn’t yet call it by that name. This was also her first exposure to deeper learning — an approach to learning that focuses on knowing a smaller set of topics in depth while developing lifelong learning skills, rather than covering vast amounts of information at a surface level. Sarah says Eagle Rock internship is what inspired her to become a teacher.

Educator and student participants — Eagle Rock's 2016 Summer Institute.

Educator and student participants — Eagle Rock’s 2016 Summer Institute.

The Growing Equity Together Project was inspired by Sarah’s Deeper Learning and Equity fellowship. Part of the fellowship included a capstone project, so Sarah designed a project with three parts: Continue reading…