Friday, March 06, 2009

Professional Development Center work

I'm drafting some ideas for how to best describe the strategy for The Professional Development Center at Eagle Rock School. Here's what I've got so far.

Guiding principles: Assets based and actionable. We begin from a place of working with schools and organizations from the stance that they already have all they need to move closer to their vision. They may need someone like us to unearth their assets and identify signs of positive deviance. Further, we are strict about turning any insights into actions. We provide clear descriptions of what the folks in an organization must do rather than just describe outcomes.

Given these principles, we engage in the following strategies.

1 – We choose to work with strategic partners. These are organizations that have a highly developed infrastructure for working (a) with small public schools and (b) directly addressing issues of high school drop out rate and secondary school experience for the kinds of students we work with at Eagle Rock School. Amongst our current partners are The Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), Alternative High School Initiative (AHSI) and the League of Democratic Schools (LoDS).

3- We partner strategically with technical assistance providers like PEBC and Buck Institute. They offer to either train us in their professional development or have us cofacilitate their work. That enables us to deliver our work having had the benefit of their high quality approach -- builds our capacity as trainers, adds value to ERS and adds values to the schools we work with. We are low to no-cost help to them as needed facilitators and we, in turn, learn from their work which is in high demand due to their quality and reputation.

3 – We are using our capacity to host visitors at our school site more effectively by working with fewer schools with whom we can conduct follow up visits. We combine the retreat nature created here while remaining embedded in a school environment. Our follow up visits to their school sites supports the needed contextualizing.

I will continue to flesh out these thoughts and develop a fuller strategy document.

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