Teamwork & Accountability

“Is it more important to hold your-self accountable or hold others accountable?”

”Hold ourselves accountable because we are responsible for our own learning,” exclaimed one learner. “Hold others accountable--I need help and I like when others hold me accountable, but I know I half do things some times,” reflected another learner. “Can I give you feedback, asked one learner?” Then she continued, “you have do things even when you’re reminded a lot of times”  This idea of “ doing things half way” arose in discussion.  The closing group discussion continued and we pondered “Is it more important to do your best work all the time OR half the time?”

At Acton we often have to remind ourselves that “Learning to Learn, Learning to Do and Learning to Be” are far more important than “Learning to Know,” to know meaning core skills in Reading, Writing, Math. Learning to Know are important along any journey but the first step is to understand why it is important on their own Hero's learning journey and focus on completing a Badge and progress to the next level. Next is to set the goal (Journey Tracker with Running Partner). Finally, perhaps most important, is learning to do the work required. What comes often from Core Skills time is powerful reflection of how we approach doing “the work.” Doing the work often leads to powerful reflection of self awareness, trade-offs, honesty, distraction, and kindness.  During our closing Exhibition this session learners reflected on their Good Citizen Proposal and many character traits were shared. A common theme, “help others,” was re-stated multiple times by the Heroes. Accountability to self, and accountability to others - this is important learning here at Acton. 
This session launched and closed in the blink of an eye.  In these 3 short weeks learners were challenged:
  • Running Partners - challenged to set a goal daily, offering support at least one time a day.  Many posted tough questions in Journey Tracker:
    • “do  you  thenk  you  can  do  it  in  three  days.”
    • “how will you get the focus to finish your goal”
    • “what  if it takes you a whole session?”
  • Pitch a Field Trip - Writers Workshop offered the opportunity to “pitch a field trip,” within guardrails of course for location (50 miles)  safety (outside) and practicality ($20 allowance per Hero). Several of the learners tested the idea if they could work as a team they might have a stronger voice.  Some liked the idea, others focused on their own ideas. In the end a few learners arose to the occasion to share their pitches “Shark Tank” style!   The winners of this particular pitch had several revisions of the pitch that included a wide range specific detail to persuade the audience and recruited a fellow traveler to help with visual props of the idea. In the end we replayed the video of the pitch for the learners to critique and ask “What did this Hero do well?”, “What would make it better?”.   As always, in order to earn the Writers Workshop challenge here the learners must submit the Writers workshop Tracking Sheet posted in the Journey Tracker challenge.  
  • Courage & Hero Bucks - A common question we as guides often ask, “What tools or resources you have to ____? ” or “Is there a fellow traveler that might be able to help you with that?” “Do I have the courage, what tool should I use, am I willing to speak up, am I willing to do the work required?” This session for example, a few learners showed great courage by others accountable using Hero Bucks when the studio contract was broken. After losing all hero bucks allotted for the week ( i.e. 3 each week) a learner is choosing a reset level which includes tighter guardrails that includes a defined schedule and work space during core skills and quest time.  Part of learning at Acton comes from Hero’s beginning to discover the importance of accountability for their own education, accept when it is hard, and the courage to persevere.
  • SMART Goals - A daily habit we continue to discuss and challenge learners on is creating daily goals that are S. specific, M. measurable, A. achievable, R. realistic, T. time bound. Tracking goals is one important way to measure effort in the studio.  Daily these are done through Journey Tracker and after reflection, written transparently on a whiteboard in  the studio (1. Exceeded goal 2. Completed goal 3. Started goal but didn’t complete 4. Didn’t start goal). Setting goals is a major objective of Elementary and beyond. Importantly, it is how Hero’s demonstrate focus along their learning journey, and to measure progress toward a larger goal. Deep reflection happens regularly when learners remind each other they did not set their goal or track their accomplishment or they perhaps realize the goal they set was much bigger than they realized!  As parents we can often refer back to the 3 Horsemen that often get in the way of goals: Distraction, Resistance, Victimhood.  The antidote for Distraction is ‘focus on one thing’, for Resistance to ‘do one thing’, and Victimhood -’take personal responsibility/express gratitude’.  
Learning also showed up in the most unexpected ways which often presents fun challenges in the learning journey.
  • US Citizenship - “Was it’s more helpful to complete each quest challenge along the way or to try to take the Naturalization Test without having completed the challenges.  Quests are 3 days per week often with a daily challenge that culminates in perhaps 18 different challenges over the course of a 6 week session.   Hero’s challenged to research about the naturlization process in the U.S. A and be prepared guide their parents and guests to take the Nautrlization test at exhibition..  Many learners acknowledged they had not fully completed the challenges and therefore it was hard to take the test. Reflections on empathy abound through research, testimony of immigrants, real work challenges through the immigration process.  Ultimately, our guide asked “When is something most valuable to you - when you work hard for it, when you lose it, or when it is a gift to you from someone else?”
  • The Missing Cat with a $500 Reward - A unique distraction and some creativity happened on the day when the neighborhood cat that frequents our outdoor space was declared missing.  The learners assembled themselves in creative ways to continue the learning but also self organized a plan for how to best capture the cat. If found there was a $500 reward!   Creating systems for keeping “watch”, string pulleys with the kennel through the window, and much discussion over how the reward would be divided-- math problems in it’s most practical form. In the end, the cat was found in a neighboring school and the learners discussed there was too much distraction,  agreed they had not upheld the contract, and unanimously re-committed to their contract. 
  • The Alarm & Core Skills - Learners got creative in staying focused when the security alarm malfunctioned during core skills one Monday morning.  As the learners found spaces outside the studio there was much discussion on how to stay focused, where to sit, and what work was being accomplished-- real life problems, distractions and gathering focus. 
  • The Holiday Book Exchange - A time of giving and generosity sparked the learners excitement for the book exchange.  Each learner had the responsibility of selecting the book that is in their recipients ‘challenge zone’, bringing the book, and keeping it a secret and signing up for a wrapping session slot created much anticipation to the special time.  Learners helped each other with ideas of what book they should select and had a great time sharing their gifts, and a few showed flexibility on some gifting mishaps!

As we break for the holidays we encourage much rest with the anticipation to return to the studio for Session 4: Coding & Robotics! We will all be ready to get our creative juices flowing (the character trait of the session).

Hi, I'm Jeff Couvillon. 👋

I'm Community Champion at Acton Academy Southwest Austin

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