There is certainly little good that can be said about the COVID-19 health pandemic, but there have been some silver linings — you just have to look between the lines.
The coronavirus outbreak has forced every school in the nation to shut its doors and move the remainder of the school year online, and we here at Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center (PDC) are among those organizations that have felt the brunt of that epidemic eviction. However, in our particular case, we have also been forced to innovate the delivery of our professional development engagements. And that has turned out to be a good thing.
We are both a residential school for high school-aged students who have shown a sincere interest in reengaging in their own education. And we also offer professional development services for educators across the United States who are similarly committed to making high school a more engaging experience for our country’s youth.
And that leads us to today’s post, which as you’ll see, highlights the work of our talented professional development team in action — something that would have been impossible for you to observe before the health pandemic forced us to deliver our engagements online.
Since the early 1990s, our professional development staffers have visited schools, education organizations, and conferences and seminars across the country, sharing what we know educational improvement. And now, in response to the pivot from face-to-face professional development engagements, our PDC team has launched an online professional learning community series, in addition to continuing supporting clients coast to coast. Open to the education community, the series is titled, “Join Our Community of Educators Grappling with, and Solving, Dilemmas,” and convenes at 10 a.m. Mountain Time each Thursday via Zoom.
Topics at these online sessions include a comprehensive focus on assets that strengthen the work we’re doing with students and families, and why some students are succeeding in virtual space while some are not.
This is not a webinar or panel discussion. It is an interactive process where participants share ideas on that week’s topic, which is focused around a highly specific dilemma. The process allows participants to contribute and take away lessons from a community of educators grappling together. Here at Eagle Rock, we believe educators hold critical wisdom and experience to help out and support one another during this unprecedented time, and that collaborative learning brings forward practical — and actionable ideas.
After participating in one of our online sessions, one high school principal recently told us, “This has been the most refreshing and thoughtful meeting all week. I appreciate hearing how other people are looking at issues of equity and access, advisory and deep learning. This beats my current three-hour principal meetings talking about policy.”
We are all deeply concerned about best practices in supporting students and their learning during the health pandemic, when inequities are exacerbated, and we lose our daily in-person connection with students. But keep in mind those silver linings we mentioned above. Because there is also an opportunity to become connected to students’ daily home experiences, partner with families in deeper ways, and embody student-centered principles by starting with students’ real lives and concerns.
This week we will be engaging with a high school principal grappling with his school’s dilemma with enrollment during a pandemic using the Tuning Protocol for Large Groups.
When we fine-tune a plan during a 60-minute online session like the one we’ll facilitate this Thursday, May 21, there are eight basic components:
- Presentation to the Large Group (10 minutes)
- Clarifying Questions from the Large Group (5 minutes)
- Examination of the Plan (7 minutes)
- Pause to Reflect on Feedback (2-3 minutes)
- Feedback in Small Groups (15-20 minutes)
- Sharing Feedback in the Large Group (5-10 minutes)
- Reflection (10 minutes)
- Debrief (5 minutes)
If you are interested in having your dilemma tackled at a future Eagle Rock-facilitated professional learning gathering online, please contact our Professional Development Center. Future Thursday topics are released with registration opening on Monday morning. Information can be found on our Instagram Page and Facebook pages.