Mandy Callister

April, 2021

While reflecting back over the past 4 months since launching our school, I’m met with absolute awe over the transformation our team has witnessed. Based on comments from numerous parents, the changes have not only been seen at school but also at home.

One of the biggest challenges we faced as guides early on was helping support the learners in unraveling the negative narratives and restrictive beliefs they had around both academic subjects and their own potential. Their prior experiences with learning were generally not positive. Most of the learners in our Explorers Studio (upper elementary), came with significant limiting perspectives.

We saw it as our job to hold space for each of the learners and not feed into or fuel the false beliefs and stories they told themselves and others. Our primary job as a Guide in the Explorer studio is to make learning fun and gamify as much as possible. Through this effort, we were able to see each learner free themselves from many of the shackles that had once held them back from their greatness.

One of our learners had a huge aversion to writing. By allowing them to choose what they wrote about within a specific genre and at a pace that felt right, they were able to personally connect to and actually enjoy Writer’s Workshop. By the end of the third session, the learner was happily participating and writing more thoughtfully and thoroughly than ever before. All three badges were earned.

Another learner had a disdain for reading at the beginning of the year and would groan every day during Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) time. They have since completed their first Badge Book and beg for extra time to read.

The transformation has not only been around academics but also in social-emotional learning. Our learners have found their voices. When something isn’t right with them, they either speak up at the moment, ask for a “Peace Table” talk, write up a Town Hall slip, or call a “Tribal Council” (see our TimberNook blog post for a detailed story). Even our meekest and shiest learners express their opinions during our morning Socratic Discussions. 

It’s been truly inspiring to see the courage and growth demonstrated by each and every one of the 14 learners. They are heading their calls to greatness and we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

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