There’s Life After Eagle Rock For Public Allies Fellows

It’s not just our students who have to come up with a plan for “Life After Eagle Rock.” Consider the plight of our Public Allies fellows, who must face this challenge each and every summer as their year-long commitment to Eagle Rock comes to a close.

Which brings us to a trio of our fellows who have discovered different ways of extending their work in education next fall.

Eagle Rock's 2013/2014 Public Allies Fellows

Eagle Rock’s 2013/2014 Public Allies Fellows

Clay Elkin, our current Math Fellow, came to Eagle Rock with experience in a variety of educational settings. By the end of last summer, Clay had served as a high school lacrosse coach, a raft guide at a Boy Scout camp, and a classroom assistant at High Tech High — a renowned project-based learning school in San Diego, California. He spent this past year teaching math at Eagle Rock, with topics ranging from “Feeling Lucky” to “The Physics of Mountain Biking.”

Next year, Clay will continue his work in experiential education as a 9th-12th grade math teacher and “crew leader” at Rocky Mountain School for Expeditionary Learning in Denver.

Clay was attracted to the Denver offer because it provides him with another opportunity to Continue reading…

Our Students Make Beautiful Music Together — Behind the PDC Building

Sometimes living together in a close-knit community can be a taxing proposition, and students need to find ways to become rejuvenated and eager to move onto the next step in their educational path.

For quite a few of our Eagle Rockers, the small building nestled behind the Professional Development Center (PDC) is nothing short of a haven. It’s our one-room schoolhouse — a place for musicians to gravitate for the purpose of recording music

Surrounded by countless musical instruments, a small recording studio, computers filled with music software and a pair of talented instructors, our music department boasts significant opportunities and resources. And certainly not the least of these is our partnership with Berklee College of Music in Boston.

As part of the Berklee City Music Network (BCMN), Eagle Rock students have access to additional musical opportunities. BCMN is a nonprofit network dedicated to supporting underserved youth through contemporary music.

Isaac Leslie, our music instructional specialist, said that with Eagle Rock as its partner site, BCMN delivers the musical proficiency and financial resources needed for students to succeed at a prestigious institution like Berklee College of Music. He said the purpose is to bring these resources to students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend a school like Berklee.

The partnership includes two main assets: the Continue reading…

How Restorative Circles Are Helping Eagle Rock

As a part of our ongoing efforts to implement restorative practices into school culture, Eagle Rock’s faculty and staff met on a recent Friday morning to explore incorporating more restorative circles into our campus culture and instruction.

A restorative classroom practice strives to promote community, acceptance and belonging in a safe environment that works at strengthening relationships and repairing harm.

Beverly Manigo from the International Institute for Restorative Practices led a workshop for us that featured reading, discussion, and practical simulations for how we might implement circles.

After reading an excerpt from Restorative Circles in Schools: Building Community and Enhancing Learning by Bob Costello, Joshua Wachtel, and Ted Wachtel, the group explored the meaning in using different types of circles. “The circle represents a fundamental change in the relationship between students and authority figures,” the book explains. “It creates a cooperative atmosphere in which students take responsibility for their actions. Students respond because they feel respected and realize that what they say matters.”

While Eagle Rock has used reactive circles for years, our faculty and staff were excited to learn more about circles that are used proactively and during academic classes. With the trimester just starting, some of our House Parents also expressed interest in using proactive circles to build trust and provide a foundation for future conversation.

Several of our faculty members said they already use proactive circles in their classes and are interested in strengthening that practice.

“We use them on Mondays to gauge where the students are and look forward to the week,” said our Public Allies fellow in language and literacy, Jake Sund. “Students express concerns, talk around their metacognitive skills, and discuss what’s working and what’s not.”

Holly Takashima, Sund’s co-teacher and our language and literacy instructional specialist, wants to build on that ritual at the start of the new trimester. “I’m going to use it on the Continue reading…

Eagle Rock an Active Participant in Recent CES Forum

Nine of our staff members actively took part in the recent 2013 Fall Forum hosted by the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES). The conference was held earlier this month at Mission High School in the heart of San Francisco, with this year’s theme titled “Making the Invisible Visible: Stories and Counter Stories for Educational Equity.”

Our Eagle Rock staffers got the long weekend off to a good start by facilitating a two-hour meeting with directors from about a dozen CES Affiliate Centers — including our hosts, the San Francisco Coalition of Essential Small Schools — at the Clift Hotel.

That meeting presented a great opportunity for directors to check in with each other and explore the nature of their collaboration.

In addition, Eagle Rock staff members led three of the longer workshops on Saturday afternoon, including Michael Soguero and Dan Condon co-presenting “The Ten Principles as the Lens for Implementing the Common Core.”

CES is celebrating more than 25 years of what it terms “creating and sustaining personalized, equitable, and intellectually challenging schools.” The 2013 gathering saw representatives from schools and organizations from as far away as the Netherlands and Japan — all eager to explore how the CES 10 Common Principles apply to their practice.

Each year, the fall forum presents an opportunity for educators to continue “a conversation among friends,” as CES founder Ted Sizer once said.

Richard Carranza, superintendent of San Francisco’s Unified School District, started Saturday’s sessions off by addressing the need for Continue reading…