An Innovative Model For School Improvement

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The difference between the sense of hearing and the skill of listening is attention.” – Seth S. Horowitz

In a school with a comprehensive innovative vision that breaks the mold for school as we know it, I watched Michael Soguero and Dan Condon from Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center provide a range of support that equally breaks the mold for conventional educational consulting. I returned to my own work in schools with renewed optimism in the possibilities for supporting innovative educators to achieve their visions.

Tony Monfiletto’s vision for ACE Leadership High Schools is far-reaching and significant for the field. Not just anyone could step up and match this level of creative courageous thought and commitment to action.

Michael and Dan step up. From the minute we arrived at the school, they paid attention. Throughout the three days, I saw them bring a breath of optimism, a belief in possibilities for what we can accomplish for our kids, and that we can find our way in a complex educational landscape in a diverse nation.

They backed that optimism with a wide range of experiences and learning in multiple modes of organizational and individual professional support, from education and from business and other fields. They offered a breadth of experience from schools across the country along with depth of experience from their own Eagle Rock School. Being in a school themselves, they understand the continuous challenges that keep us grounded and humble. Furthermore they offered specific field-tested examples, solutions, and stories.

Their agility was inspiring as they turned on a dime from one mode of support to another—from a process to create a schedule for ACE Health Leadership (opening next fall) to agenda design for a large-scale high stakes community meetings for the Performance Assessment Network. From facilitating a strategic planning meeting that led to a drastic restructuring of a more conventional schedule to a collaborative project based schedule and curriculum to designing a high stakes community meeting around actions for alternative assessment. They listened to the range of concerns, challenges, and hopes of leaders and helped them plan their solutions. They interviewed teachers and students about the big change to project centered curriculum, gathered and analyzed the responses, and provided recommendations.

With even a small glimpse into the partnership between Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center and ACE Leadership, I saw the complexity of the part that Michael and Dan play for these people who push so hard every minute of every day to create better opportunities for kids than the system has traditionally provided.

Whether or not this seems like a big deal outside of the little world of progressive school reform, it is a big deal. They provided whatever was needed to help a school community whose innovative vision will influence what happens beyond their own school walls. This takes very heavy lifting.

What benefit do you see in Eagle Rock’s framework for collaborative, asset based school improvement rather than the more typical expert model of school improvement and professional development?

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