Eagle Rock’s Spirit, Setting and Staff Assists iLEAD in Adopting New Goals

By Dr. Angie Nastovska, Director of Humanities and Innovative Programs—iLEAD Schools.

Since the inception of iLEAD schools, co-founders Dawn Evenson and Amber Raskin have had the clear mission of impacting education through their vision: “Free to Think. Inspired to Lead.

The iLEAD model, which is based on project-based learning schools, goes to the heart of how kids learn — not because such concepts are faddish. Technology integration is approached as an organic part of the learning process — not as a spiffy add-on. iLEAD’s core values focus on encouraging leadership by instilling in each learner the confidence and character that inspires others — not just part of a career track.

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That’s why iLEAD encourages learners to think for themselves. This requires a solid grounding in the arts, design and in humanities. It suggests a need for the learner to feel at home in the world. At iLEAD, “thinking for themselves” isn’t just about solving problems. Instead it is an organic view of the world in which they live. A world they will one day inherit.

Finally, iLEAD’s approach to education places strong emphasis on the social and emotional development of the learners. This is based on the belief that there is an implicit, as well as an explicit, curriculum to teach. The ultimate goal for iLEAD is nothing short of Continue reading…

Bay Area Educators Learn About Legacy During Eagle Rock Visit

Editor’s Note: Today’s post details a visit to Eagle Rock School by Nora Houseman, former principal of San Francisco Community School (SFC), and Jessica Fishman, a literary specialist at the school. SFC is a Small School by Design (SSD), meaning the school community selects its leader and the school district cannot under policy remove that person unless the leader is ineffective.

By Jessica Fishman, Literacy Specialist — San Francisco Community School

When Nora Houseman shared our intention to start a lab school and professional development center in San Francisco, a former Eagle Rock employee suggested we bring our vision to Michael Soguero and Dan Condon at Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center.

For years, Nora had heard wonderful stories about Eagle Rock, so we arrived with high expectations, eager to see the school and learn from Michael and Dan.

Aside from the stunning beauty of Estes Park and the campus, the first thing we noticed was a poster that read, “What’s Your Legacy?” That query highlights the Eagle Rock tradition of culminating student legacy projects. The second thing we spotted was a comfy communal meeting area full of colorful throw pillows and handpainted signs signaling various student-led clubs and activities.

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Everything at Eagle Rock — from the physical spaces to the carefully worded curriculum and the two- to four-student advisories — is intentionally designed to support the school’s mission of engagement and community.

Everyone is encouraged to pitch in and play a role, and that includes visitors. We had the opportunity to participate in a rousing game of Continue reading…

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.

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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…

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.

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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…

Mapleton School Teachers Focus on Self-Managed Classrooms

Dave Manzella, currently the school designer at EL Education, was Eagle Rock School’s literature and literacy instructional specialist back in 2008 through 2011. Last month, he came back to Eagle Rock to facilitate a training program for another Colorado school.

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Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts (MESA) is a grade 7-12 public school in the Mapleton School District located in Thornton, Colo. MESA has been an EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) School for more than a decade, and MESA’s administrators wanted to begin the new academic year grounding the staff in the school wide objective of developing more self-managed classrooms and school.

They partnered with us here at Eagle Rock in a daylong program that saw the MESA staff gather off campus for some focused time away from other beginning-of-the-year distractions.

The day (August 8) was spent Continue reading…

Using ‘Improvement Science’ to Advance Teacher Preparation

Editor’s Note: Today’s Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center blog post comes to us by way of Kari Thierer, organizational director at School Reform Initiative (SRI) — a nonprofit that works to support the creation of transformational learning communities fiercely committed to educational equity and excellence. Eagle Rock recently hosted Kari and some of her SRI colleagues for a two-day retreat centered on improvement science. Below, Kari discusses her group’s work and its experience with tapping into Eagle Rock’s professional development services.

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Using ‘Improvement Science’ to Advance Teacher Preparation
By Kari Thierer, Organizational Director — School Reform Initiative (SRI)

We have the privilege of working with educators serving pre-kindergarten students all the way through college, in schools throughout the world. Our work began in 1995 as a way to provide better professional development for the schools that were part of the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) network, and this mission has continued to grow and evolve over the years.

We are fortunate to have a relationship with Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, both through our work as a CES National Center, as well as having the opportunity to work alongside amazing facilitators like Eagle Rock’s Michael Soguero, Dan Condon and Anastacia Galloway — all of whom are part of the SRI community of facilitators.

As our work has evolved, a growing area of conversation has centered around how to support pre-service education programs and bring the principles and practices of SRI critical friendship into licensure programs. Our belief is that these tools and practices will Continue reading…

Professional Development Center adds ‘Student Ambassadors’

For the past two years, Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center team members have been developing a student-centered program to engage students in Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center.

After swiftly exiting its brainchild stages, the program has given students myriad opportunities to connect with the Professional Development Center (PDC) like never before. The PDC Ambassador Program encourages Eagle Rock School students to participate alongside our PDC staff in furthering Eagle Rock’s national mission of re-engaging high school youth.

The students, known as ‘Student Ambassadors,’ receive extensive training and experience to effectively contribute to the Professional Development Center’s works, gaining professional skills and real-world experience in order to meet the needs of clients. And for students who participate in the program, they have opportunities to host visiting educators, the exciting possibility of travel to partnering sites and conferences, and more.

Taking a step back for a moment, in order for a student to become a student ambassador, they must complete at least two trainings and two activities (from the list of offerings below) that reflect skills and practices PDC team members utilize in their work nationally on almost a daily basis: Continue reading…

Spring 2016 Update from the Professional Development Center

“Plan your work, then work your plan.” I’m not sure who said it first or if it really matters. All I know is if you decide in advance precisely how you’re going to get from where you are to where you want to be, you stand a much better chance of getting there.

At the level of the lowest common denominator, that’s the essence of any plan, including Eagle Rock’s strategic plan for 2015-2020, aptly titled Vision 2020. And as I shared just last week here on the Eagle Rock Blog (see: Strategic Plan Update: National Contribution), the Professional Development Center team is hard at work facilitating programs, trainings and other custom offerings that lead the high schools with whom we work to transform themselves into high-functioning centers of engagement and learning.

Eagle Rock Professional Development Center Update June 2016

More than half of Eagle Rock School’s instructional specialists — those educators who work within our own school — are now engaged in supporting this national mission-related work, along with the entire professional development center team. As a reminder, “national contribution” is the fifth domain within our strategic plan, a document that enables us to fulfill our organization’s mission and make significant steps toward realizing our vision. And, of course, that vision is that this country’s high school youth be fully engaged in their education.

The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center staff kicked off the spring by actively participating in a number of seminars, retreats, focus groups, workshops and educational events across the country, including the ones mentioned below. If you would like to know more about our work — or how your school or organization can work with the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center — please contact Dan Condon, our associate director of professional development, by emailing DCondon at EagleRockSchool dot org.

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The Professional Development staff traveled to the Ryan Banks Academy in Chicago, helping to develop STEM and Humanities curriculum for the academy, which is an urban boarding school scheduled to open in September 2017.

May 2 and 3

Our staff also attended an advisory leader retreat to develop advisory vision and plans at Randolph Union High School in Randolph, Vermont.

May 4 and 5

We conducted asset-based observations and appreciative interviews with the staff of Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Staffers Dive Deep at the Deeper Learning Conference

A handful of Eagle Rock staffers recently attended a worldwide conference called Deeper Learning 2016 in San Diego, walking away with new ways to influence students to begin thinking critically, collaboratively and to embrace fresh challenges.

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Attending from Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center (PDC) were Michael Soguero, director of professional development; Dan Condon, associate director of professional development; Sarah Bertucci, professional development associate; and Maya Edery, 2015/2016 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in society and cultures.

The purpose of the late March conference was to assist educators who truly strive to prepare their students for college and future careers. Among the core competencies for those who practice this Deeper Learning philosophy is to teach students how to master core academic content.

Attendees heard about methods of teaching students to think critically and solve complex problems, work as a group, communicate with each other and others, and develop academic mindsets. Put simply, the concept is to help students “learn how to learn.”

Our PDC team members arrived for the Southern California event and immediately headed to Continue reading…

Winter 2016 Update from the Professional Development Center

Maintaining its vision that this country’s high school youth should be fully engaged in their education, our professional development center (PDC) team started off the New Year the same way they start every week — busy and engaged.

The PDC staff kicked off the new year with Dan Condon, associate director of professional development, and Mia Stroutsos, our 2015/2016 PDC Public Allies fellow, making their way to New Mexico for four separate leadership events. Our PDC associate, Anastacia Galloway spent that same week providing follow-up support for Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School (FLHFHS) in the Bronx, New York, where we are engaged in a multi-year project to institute peer observations.

On Jan. 5, Dan Condon found himself in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for leadership support of Tech Leadership High School’s senior management team where he spoke on the importance of intersecting technology with pedagogy for the next generation of students. And on the next day, he visited ACE Leadership High School for project tuning, and then attended an event for a soon-to-open charter school focused on entrepreneurship.

Siembra Leadership is the latest school we support through our work with the New Mexico Center for School Leadership. Mia Stroutsos and Dan Condon wrapped up their stay in Albuquerque by focusing on supporting formative assessment in the classroom for the Health Leadership staff.

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Anastacia Galloway’s four-day visit to New York included a follow-up visit with the staff at FLHFHS where, through a series of class visits and teacher interviews, she surfaced the most successful practices for integrating peer-coaching into their professional learning plans.

It was a busy week, but the PDC team is just getting warmed up. Here’s a quick look at what’s to come in the next few months: Continue reading…