Summer 2017 Professional Development Center Update

Editor’s Note: The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center works with educators and schools committed to making high school a more engaging experience for our youth. That’s because we envision high schools as high functioning centers of learning that are fueled by engagement. Through our offerings (click here for a full list), we facilitate school improvement and support the implementation of engaging practices that foster each students’ unique potential and help young people use their minds well.

Below is a list that’s inclusive of where we’ve been thus far this spring, along with information about where our staff is headed between now and August. Complied by Eagle Rock’s 2016/17 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development, Sebastian Franco, this list demonstrates just a portion of Eagle Rock’s relevance on a national scale, and offers inspiration for educators and schools interested in professional development initiatives of their own.

Traveling separately, and sometimes as a team, our professional development staff members facilitate, convene, support, participate and work with local schools through the following engagements:

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May 8 – 10: Austin Independent School District (AISD), Austin, TX — The Austin Independent School District is responsible for the quality of education in the Austin District of Texas. Its mission is to prepare students for college and beyond as they live in one of the best cities for working and living. Eagle Rock’s director of professional development, Michael Soguero, will continue working with the leadership of AISD, as it continues to develop and support an entrepreneurial education program. This is part of efforts to better prepare students for 21st century demands. Michael will be traveling with Eagle Rock Human Performance and Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist, Jon Anderson to continue working with AISD from June 26 – 30.

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May 11: Estes Park School District (EPSD), Estes Park, CO — The EPSD is in charge of all education programs in the Estes Valley area and its focus is to prepare students to shine as citizens in a world that is increasingly diverse and technological. Sarah Bertucci, Professional Development Center Associate, and Sebastian Franco, Professional Development Center Public Allies Fellow, have supported the school district on outreach efforts in conjunction with the district’s Estes Thrives initiative. This Professional Development Center’s work focused Continue reading…

Spring Break at Eagle Rock School is Worktime for Many Eagle Rockers

Eagle Rock School’s 71st trimester officially ended last week, with students from all points of the compass heading home for a well-deserved break. Same goes for many staff and instructional specialists — many are welcoming a short break afforded by the trimester cycle. But as you’ll see from reading on, not all who call Eagle Rock home are on break.

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Staff that are on break return to campus on Monday, May 8, followed by veteran students who come back on Sunday, May 14, to participate in some All School activities and house retreats before classes start on Monday, May 22.

Eagle Rock’s new students — the incoming group we’ll refer to as ER 72 — arrive on Saturday, May 20, just in time for a week of being on campus before heading out for their Continue reading…

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…

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…

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…

Our Latest Class Offerings Span From Robots to Sex-Ed

We’re comfortably squeezing in an abundance of learning between this week — which heralds the beginning of the second half of the fall trimester — and Dec. 9, which is the last day of classes before Winter Break.

From robotics to woodwork, from astronomy to sex-ed, this 70th trimester in the history of Eagle Rock School includes classes that are both challenging and potentially life changing to participating students.

Late last month we listed the first batch of new classes (see Eagle Rock 70 Classes Underway — And Here’s What’s Being Offered). Below is a list of other classroom offerings for the trimester, along with a description of each class:

Robotics
In the past decade, we have seen the rise of smartphones and drones, along with the first computer to beat a world-ranked Go player. With this growing sector around computer technology come job opportunities galore, not to mention the enjoyment of toying with robots, solving tricky problems, software coding and the intricacies of electronic circuitry. In this class, students demonstrate what they’ve learned in teams, each designing, creating, testing and redesigning a robot to meet specific challenges.

Human Sexuality
In this class students are exploring sex and sexual health from a number of perspectives. However, this isn’t your father’s sex-ed class. Instead, participants are looking at sexuality through different newspapers, magazines, websites, documentaries, films, fiction and non-fiction. The focus is on stories and experiences from around the world that can be used to better understand sexuality and healthy relationships. Digital recording and podcasts are also being used to share stories and information.

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Theater Tech
Theatre Tech is designed to provide Eagle Rock School students with a basic understanding and practice of Continue reading…

Eagle Rock 70 Classes Underway — And Here’s What’s Being Offered

Classroom instruction began a month ago for the 70th semester of Eagle Rock School, with returning students participating in many of the classes listed below.

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Meanwhile, incoming ER 70 students set off on Sept. 26 for what serves as an initiation process here at Eagle Rock — our signature New Student Wilderness Orientation Program. These new students have since returned from that 24-day experience, and are busily preparing their Wilderness Program presentations of learning (POLs) that will be presented Saturday, Oct. 29.

Other activities on the immediate horizon include Explore Week — which takes place Oct. 31 through Nov.4 — and the beginning of the second half of the trimester beginning Nov. 7. The last day of classes before winter break is Dec. 9.

Below is a partial list of class offerings for the trimester, along with a description of the courses:

Harlem Renaissance

In this class, students are transported back to Harlem, New York between 1919 and 1935, seeing the neighborhood through the eyes of some of the brightest minds of the 20th century. A renaissance is a rebirth, and theirs — preempted by freedom — is expressed through bold colors, strong voices, and passion that launched a culture and was the foundation for the 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…

From Farm to Table to Deviance & Social Control — Eagle Rock School’s Diverse Class Offerings: Part Deux

Here at Eagle Rock School, we have always added new meaning to the term unique class offerings, and in fact, we’re fairly well known nationwide for the progressiveness of our classroom topics.

For example, not many high schools offer a class in on-the-job training to be a park ranger. In fact, some of our students will even be on the payroll of the Rocky Mountain National Park during the upcoming summer break as a direct result of taking this class.

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Below, we present the second of a pair of blog posts describing the unique classes offered during this, the second half of ER 69 (the 69th trimester since our founding in the fall of 1993):

Farm To Table: In this class, Eagle Rock School students are studying the methods and effects of different food production systems around the world. By planting, harvesting and tending the Eagle Rock garden, our “farmers” are growing and producing food for our own school cafeteria. A primary outcome of this class is to transform the Continue reading…

69 Trimesters Later, Eagle Rock is Still Offering Diverse Courses

One of the many things at Eagle Rock School for which we’re recognized is the diversity of our classroom offerings. For instance, you won’t find many traditional high schools that offer a class in the politics of music. Or how about a class that explores the notion that our educational system is inequitable, and then empowers students to do something about it.

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Below, we present the first of two blog posts listing and describing the unique class offerings for the first half of ER 69 — the 69th trimester since Eagle Rock’s founding in the early 1990s:

Deeper Learning & Equity

Our educational system is inequitable, and there are numerous structures and tools that people use to address that fact. In this class, Eagle Rock School students are looking closely at these structures. That includes those “No Excuses” schools that are exceptionally strict and teach a traditional curriculum, as well as the “Deeper Learning” concept — where students study topics in depth and often do projects to make a change in their communities. Students plan and facilitate a retreat for educators who want to improve equity in their schools, and our students have the opportunity to support those schools next year through the work of our own Professional Development Center. The retreat will take place during the second five weeks of the summer, so students will have responsibilities after the five-week course ends. But it’s a window to making a real difference in education and gain amazing real-world skills.

Music Politics

How does Beyonce fit in the succession of powerful Black divas that preceded her? What does it mean that Justin Timberlake is producing a country album? In this class students are learning the history, economics, politics and cultural context of the music we all listen to. Popular music is more than just beats and lyrics. It is one of the best ways to understand the values, prejudices and fantasies of our culture. Students listen, analyze and discuss songs, thinking critically about race, gender, genre, technology, money and the stories of the artists behind the music. Each student is expected to create an Continue reading…