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Mandy Callister

September, 2020

We began our second week at Acton with a continuation of high energy carried over from week 1. All the learners were happy to be at school and excited to see what was in store for the week.

Our focuses this week were around:

  1. Introduction to Core Skills Computer Apps (ES)/ Montessori Works (Spark)
  2. Introduction and Use of SMART Goals
  3. Introduction to Acton Systems (Freedom Levels, Strikes, and Town Hall Meetings)
  4. Begin the Contract Game to Build the Studio Agreements
  5. Continue to Team Build and Get To Know Each Other

Overall, the areas of focus for the week went well. The ES learners required more assistance than we had anticipated in getting up and running with the core skills, but each hero created a SMART goal around reading for the week. On Friday, all the heroes except for one accomplished their goal. The one hero who did not accomplish his goal provided an excellent learning opportunity for all in how to identify and work through the barriers that prevented him from succeeding. He has a clear plan of action for next week to accomplish his goal.

The learners demonstrated great focus during Core Skills time, especially during their time with Spelling City. We allowed them time to explore each application and discover what they were about. Many played the spelling and vocabulary games, while a few messed around and tried to get the lowest scores possible. Next week as we have them set SMART goals for every area, the messing around should naturally correct itself.

We were shocked and inspired by the level of engagement in our first Town Hall Meeting on Thursday afternoon. To prep for this, we paired up a Spark with an ES to fill out a Town Hall Slip. These slips can be filled out at any time during the week and give each hero an opportunity to share any of the following:

  • A character call-out – recognizing a fellow hero for demonstrating an exemplary characteristic or expressing gratitude for something
  • A question or an issue they want to discuss and vote on solutions
  • An idea for something to improve the community
  • A possible solution to a topic discussed earlier
  • A challenge or frustration to share aloud with the group
  • An announcement

There were 8 shares with the group and 1 solution to a problem. That problem was the noise level in the studio. We discussed the issue of noise as it affects our neighbors and fellow heroes. The solutions proposed were to have someone turn off the lights when the noise levels were too high. To help know when they are too high, we will try out the “Yaker Tracker” which will alert the group with a red, yellow, or green light as it relates to the noise level of the studio. The group also decided that it should be the responsibility of all learners to turn off the light, not just one.

The studio contract game went into full swing at the beginning of the week. The learners brainstormed ideas for agreements they would like to make and then voted on 3 to try out for two days. After they are trialed in our “lab”, the group will vote on them to move to the final contract or the recycling center. Here are the 3 that we are trying out:

  1. I promise to keep our studio space clean and sacred
  2. I promise not to distract others
  3. I promise to respect other’s creations

These promises come from an experience where these agreements were challenged. For example, one of the learners had spilled peach juice on the floor and left the trash, while another learner had smooshed crackers onto the floor. Neither picked them up. Within minutes, several of the learners were disgusted by the messes and passionately voted on promise number 1. It was very hard for both guides to let the messes be, but we knew it was an opportunity for the tribe to establish their agreements, communicate with one another, and hold others accountable.

At the beginning of the week, the tribe was challenged with the Hula-hoop game. They were divided into two teams and had to raise a hula hoop to the shortest person’s shoulders while only using two fingers. The challenge was that everyone had to have their fingers on the hula hoop the entire time. This proved to be extremely difficult for the teams. We observed leaders emerge who spoke in frustrated and impatient tones which then bled into the rest of the team. A few hero’s quit and refused to play, while others tried to strategize on how to do it with a smaller group of people. It was accomplished by a group of 4, but it technically didn’t count, because the entire team wasn’t involved. The tribe left defeated.

We ended our week at TimberNook where the learners had a beautiful opportunity to work out some of their issues through play. Partnerships formed among previously strained relationships, while others learned about how people showed up for the game. I witnessed one of the hero’s flat out lie to another in order to get the “treasure bead” from them. I could see how it wounded the trusting hero. We will see how that impacts their relationship going forward.

We continue to witness the magic of Acton each day. As we slowly hand over the reins to the heroes, they courageously take hold. Things are messy and chaotic at times, but that is part of the learning process for the tribe. Leaders are emerging in the studios and on the playground, and they are not the people we pegged early on. These young heroes will soon become our sheepdogs who will gently guide the herd.

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