Eagle Rock Work Retreat

In July 2013, a group of 21 Winooski and Burlington students, educators, parents, and community partners traveled to Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, CO. In this beautiful retreat setting, participants learned from Eagle Rock’s nationally recognized model of proficiency-based learning and thought deeply about what our own Graduate Expectations could look like in action.

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Learning Goals
Participants in the work retreat shared the following three learning goals:

  • To walk away with clarity on how a proficiency-based school system can work by observing and experiencing Eagle Rock School, where all students graduate based on proficiencies
  • To learn the principles and practices of assets-based, positive deviance school change
  • To apply those principles to plans for developing and implementing proficiency-based learning at Winooski and Burlington schools

Activities
To meet these learning goals, participants engaged in a variety of individual and group activities, including:

  • Participating in aspects of Eagle Rock School (community meetings, meals, etc.) in order to get a sense of the culture and to connect with students and faculty
  • Observing Eagle Rock classes to learn about proficiency-based learning systems and assets-based school change
  • Mini-lessons and workshops facilitated by Eagle Rock Professional Development Staff
  • Individual and small-group work time
  • Sharing work and learning through feedback protocols
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Outcomes
As a result of this work retreat, a diverse group of stakeholders now has a deep understanding of proficiency-based learning and assets-based change that they can share with others. Many of these individuals are influential in their communities and their changed thinking and practice will undoubtedly have far-reaching ripple effects.

In addition, participants were able to return to Vermont with some next steps in mind. These projects included:

  • A group of BHS faculty meeting regularly to support one another in shifting to proficiency-based practices
  • Students and teachers reporting out to their peers about the Eagle Rock experience
  • Communicating to the larger community what it means to move toward a proficiency-based system

Participants’ Reflections
“What most impressed me at Eagle Rock was how the students we saw in class or spoke with demonstrated a strong belief in their own capacity to measure up to the proficiencies set by the school. Some had a 2-year plan, some had a 3-year plan, but everyone had a sense of how they were going to get there.” -Winooski Teacher

“People who were trained at Eagle Rock this summer have some training in actually leading and change making: one action at a time.” -Burlington Teacher

“The communications piece continues to be an area I think we need to pay careful attention to and commit time, energy and resources. Too often, good efforts fail in the gates because they aren’t well communicated to the stakeholders. I believe some of the work I am currently doing to support communications for the Partnership can benefit the GX Team efforts.” -Burlington Parent and Community Partner

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