Big Rocks & The Learning Journey

“The best way to predict the future is to create it”  - Abraham Lincoln.

Will I have the courage to seize an opportunity?  At Acton Academy we believe that opportunities are all around us.  Opportunities to be kind, courageous, resilient, seek justice, to encourage, inspire, to lead, to create and author the story we desire most deeply for ourselves and our children.  One thing we are so passionate about here is the intentionality around these. We look to process, tools and recipes that help us solve problems that focus on learning how to Learn, learning to Do, and learning to Be. We at Acton are not perfect, and certainly not a utopia, but we are mindful that our questions, responses, actions all present the opportunity to prove to someone what we believe along our journey.  That the choices we make matter.  As we launch into a New Year, 2021 and new session, Coding & Robotics, we’re exploring tools the learners have available as they navigate their journey?

What are your "Big Rocks”?

This past week the guide posed the question to begin a launch “What are your big rocks in life?”  “And what are you big rocks on your learning journey?”  The learners created a list on the whiteboard.  Several learners shared things in studio like Writers Workshop, Freetime, Quest work, Core skills or in life overall Time with friends, time with Family.  Then the guide moved into the Big Rocks illustration.  Big Rocks are things that are important and valuable to you. These are things that have weight, matter to you most.  Next are small rocks- pebbles, things we love but are less important, and finally sand.  Sand represents all of the smaller things that can easily fill our time.  As the illustration goes, the guide starts with a jar and proceeds to put the sand in first, followed by the pebbles, and then attempts to put in the big rocks.  Surprising to some, many quickly realized that the big rocks did not fit after the sand and pebbles were put in first.

One learner quickly jumped in, “If we just try harder we can get it to fit in the jar”, “Maybe just a little reorganizing and it will fit.”  The learners gathered to discuss options, some pushing even harder to get the big rocks in the jar.  They were so close to fitting inside the jar.  After a few attempts to force the rocks in, “Maybe we can just use free time to work on this,”  “Let's do this later.”  Then the guide asked “What if we put the big rocks in first, followed by the pebbles, and finally the sand?” as they proceeded to dump out and begin again the illustration shows, by placing the big rocks in first, followed by the pebbles and finally sand everything fit neatly inside the jar.  

Perhaps a lesson for all of us around the choices we make. "What are your big rocks this week as you set your goals?”

Journey Meetings

As we enter the mid point of Session 4 the schedule is full with incredible challenges.  This past week learners were invited to a journey meeting as an opportunity to discuss progress in their learning journey at Acton as it relates to the promises and goals outlined in their badge plan they decided on with their family.  At Acton, we believe in learning how to think, not what to think.

The guide asked. “What do you think a journey meeting is about?”  Several learners reflected:  “to talk about our goals,” “to help me prepare for what is next on my learning journey.”  At Acton we do not have teachers, grades, or simply test regurgitation.  Rather, learners are beginning to find their mission, their calling, and are willing to try difficult things to get there, armed with each other, their parents, and the guide to ask powerful questions and encourage them along that journey.    

Next the guide asked “Who are you accountable to along your journey?” Many responded “each other,“ “my parents,”  “myself” Then the guide asked “Why is this important to your own Heroes Journey?” Conversations with the learners continued, “When are you having the most fun and in flow?” and “Is there a ‘frog’ might you need to eat that you’ve been putting off?"

This meeting provided an opportunity for some powerful reflections from the learners.  
-many referenced their big rocks - perhaps it was Coding and Robotics challenges, others mentioned “A letter to a Hero” Writers Workshop challenges they committed to completing this year, others had goals in Core Skills.
-Another learner rattled of in conversation a SMART goal without even realizing it with an ambitious goal of completing a Badge that had been put off.  

As parents and guides it is important to remember 1. be curious about their “Big Rocks" 2. provide growth mindset praise 3. be their chief encourager 4. when necessary hold accountability to these choices. 

When walking alongside our children, we often grasp for immediate feedback that learning is taking place.  At Acton we believe this can be dangerous for learning.  Rather, we believe it is important to remember that Elementary is about learning to love the process of learning - especially when it is hard!

This session learners nominated 4 learners and voted on two learners to take on the responsibility of being Council members.  These two members have taken on additional responsibilities in leading including changing Studio Maintenance, updating learners who are new or out,  reviewing Hero bucks, managing town halls and much more.  What we know is that through these learners they will do a far better job than we ever imagine! 
Coding and Robotics Quest
The learners have shown lots of excitement around the first portion of the Coding and Robotics Quest before moving on to the robotics portion of the quest in the final 2 weeks of the session where they will develop a robot! Our question of the year is “Are Hero’s born or created?”  As our Hero’s set off exploring what is possible through coding, robotics, and technology in the future perhaps there will be lots of reflections this session around that question. The Heroes have raised many unique questions during discussion as it relates to how being human intersects with technology. Perhaps the best was “Would you like to have a robot pet dog?” 

A few have raced through the early challenges in that prompted a discussion around what new challenges they wanted to take on.  As the challenge always continues for our heroes, the guide asked one of the learners that had completed a portion of the coding challenges  “what should be the next challenge be in” Many gathered to research  what should be next.  There was some debate that some of the initial challenges were "to easy".  The guide asked “ What is better to start with the easier course first or to jump ahead in the more advanced course?”.  The learners shared that they thought it was good to start with the basics even if it was easy to help direct where to go next and began to set goals around the next challenges they wanted to take on before moving to the robotics portion.  

We also enjoy visitors and look to experts in the community, in the field, to share their story, why does learning this work matter and perhaps where does it show up in our every day lives? Our visitor Ravi and (Acton Dad!), shared how solving complex problems and breaking them down to it's simplest form really can be used in every day life!
Integration of learning!

The learners have loved having Sensi Doug from Life Kido.  Doug brings challenges that intersect physical activity, breathing, mindfulness to conversations that align with the Hero’s journey - particularly as it relates to self, humility, vulnerability, the power we have inside ourselves to try hard things and try again.  Doug marveled that during discussion, learners are using their discussion rules of engagement on building - "I'd like to build on what you said”. Some other reflections from the learners: “We can disagree and neither of us is wrong.  Humility and listening adds to our understanding."  Another learner shared “If someone is bragging about something they are good at you could ask them, ‘teach me’ maybe I'll get better at it?” This is learning to Be, one who is showing how to do something well and the other is showing how to be a good person.  

Process Drama
For process drama this session we welcomed Mr. Ben.  Learners are challenged to begin with tools of theatre - building character, setting voice through improvisation.  Through games like Frozen Tableau, where learners decide what is the beginning of the story, middle of story, end of story and connect the story by acting out these "three frozen pictures.  It is a building block of telling our stories using the frozen images to come up with ideas to complete the story!  Some powerful reflections came from the practice that you can create any type of character based on how you walk, stand, even the voice  you choose. These characters we are creating never existed before, they are working drafts - sort of like life! 
As the learners explore who they want to become on their own Hero's journey focusing on the character they decide no matter the setting or circumstance.  In any case the learners, these Heroes are beginning to see they are the author of their own story!

Who am I ?  What is my character?
Who are You?
Who are We?

As Desmond Tutu said "I am because We are!"  

Hi, I'm Jeff Couvillon. 👋

I'm Community Champion at Acton Academy Southwest Austin

We are now enrolling.

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