Plants & Poems Abound!

The Elementary Studio started their week off with the discovery of how difficult Monday morning’s Circle of Silence challenge really was. Their task was to pass a jar of marbles around their circle, in complete silence, which they quickly discovered was no easy feat. This team building activity efficiently demonstrated how the actions of a single individual affected the entire group. In the afternoon, the ES designed their own Capillary Action experiments using fresh white carnations, food coloring, and test tubes. The final results were both surprising and eye-catching! The ES enjoyed viewing their beautiful creations for the rest of the week. After the Capillary Action experiments, the Eagles used the rest of their quest time to place the final touches on the Plant Cell models. The Eagles tapped into their musical sides with Music with Melanie and Tuneful Tuesday this week, as well as created some beautiful art on Tuesday.

For the Poetry edition of Writer’s Workshop, the Elementary Studio learned about, and created, their very own Haikus and Free Verse poems. We have some amazing talent in the studio and some of our Eagles decided they wanted to share their creations with one another during this week’s closing group. For the Community Garden quest on Wednesday and Friday, the ES explored soils types and layers. Digging in the dirt is a lot of fun! Eagles discovered how sacrification of lentils affects the seed germination process. Finally, Eagles used shoe boxes to create their plant light maze to observe, over time, how light affects lima bean growth. The ES Sparklers are hard at work too and are enjoying their days in their new studio, all the while overcoming their own unique challenges of academic growth. Wrapping up the week, Thursdays are always a lot of fun with Coach Lou around, and Fridays are the Eagles’ opportunity to practice the fine art of debate while learning about justice during the weekly Town Hall meetings.


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Sizzling September Start of Session 2!

The Elementary Studio started off the new session by introducing this year’s Civilization Series (Story of The World 2: Ancient Times) and Writer’s Workshop: Poetry! The Eagles were fascinated to learn about the fall of the Roman Empire and the very early days of Britain. The Eagles truly enjoyed creating their Poetry Posters, as well as delving into learning about and crafting uniques metaphors. A new Town Hall & Eagle Buck Council committee was voted on for the new session. The new committee members were hard at work this week, leading the way for policy reformations and Eagle Buck appeals.

The Elementary Studio also started a new quest, the Community Garden Quest, for Session 2. There are a plethora of hands-on and exciting science experiments scheduled for this session, a couple of which the Eagles have already started exploring and learning about environmental effects. The Eagles’ first task was to work together in squads to create plant cell models. Truly enjoyed seeing everyone’s creativity and teamwork! The Elementary Studio enjoys the weekly visits from Coach Lou, and this week’s session did not disappoint!

Our two full-time Sparklers are quickly becoming acclimated to their new learning environment. They are working hard on earning their Spark Badges while being fully immersed and adaptive to all the differences in the Elementary Studio environment. Some of the Eagles worked so diligently during the first session that they can move up the freedom level of Soaring for Session 2! The Soaring freedom level brings new privileges during Core Skills, and a few of these Eagles took the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor during Core Skills this week. Wrapping up this week’s Community Garden Quest, the Eagles gained first-hand knowledge of the photosynthesis process and how light affects plant growth. Also, how the lack thereof, along with hydration issues, can lead to the plant’s demise.

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Session 1: That's a Wrap!

This exciting and fun-filled week wrapped up Session 1 of the new school year! The Eagles revisited the process of formulating S.M.A.R.T. goals for their Core Skills sessions to keep the sessions challenging, as well as practicing their time management skills. This week the Eagles designed their badge plans and met with a guide. We went over their plans and discussed the details specific to their Reading, Writing, Math, Spelling, and Learning to Be goals to earn the applicable badges.

Excellent conversations took place where critical thinking merged with creativity as the Elementary Studio created their challenges for the Prediction Tools quest. After the final challenge creation took place, the Eagles spent time reflecting on all the tools they learned about and the knowledge gleaned during the first session’s quest.

The Paragraph Party continued in Writer’s Workshop this week. Last week the ES focused on crafting unique topic sentences using the Rockin’ Beginnings technique. This week the ES explored how to create relevant details and closing sentences that effectively brought their paragraphs to a close. Next, the Eagles had the opportunity to choose their favorite paragraphs to publish and receive rubric-rated peer reviews.

During P.E. Coach Lou has been working with Eagles on team-building experiences, as well as upper body strength conditioning. The pictures below represent the fun had by all.

The highlight of our week, which also closed out Session 1, was the EXPO! The Elementary Studio spent the week preparing and rehearsing. The studio was filled with nervous energy, but you’d never know it. As the Eagles presented themselves in a relaxed and calm manner like they have spent years becoming EXPO professionals. This EXPO focused on the Elementary Studio systems and tools. We had an Emcee/timekeeper, greeters/program creators, and then the Eagles volunteered to take charge of the studio elements they felt the most confident in explaining. The Elementary Studio had a fabulous parental turnout, and the Eagles performed a fantastic job during their EXPO presentations.

Friday afternoon, both Primary and Elementary Studios enjoyed an afternoon at the Serenbe pool playing and socializing. After a couple of hours of outdoor fun, the Eagles participated in the Contract Signing Ceremony. The ceremony started with the reading an inspiring Theodore Roosevelt quote, followed by an explanation of how the contract promises were derived. One by one, each Eagle used a special feather pen to sign their name to the Contract and the Rules of Engagement. Both are framed and hung in the Elementary Studio as a reminder of expectations of every Eagle. John built a fabulous bonfire so that we all could enjoy delicious s’mores after all the Eagles completed the signings. A wonderful evening celebration was enjoyed by all.



Soaring Through Week 3

The Elementary Studio had an impressive start to the week while performing the ZOOM team-building exercise! The Eagles completed the task with 100% accuracy and in complete silence, which was a massive accomplishment! Later in the day, the Eagles enjoyed a challenging afternoon experimenting with the analysis tools of the prediction tools quest. They were given the opportunity to choose between a polling and sampling challenge, a probability challenge, or a graphs/maps challenge. The Elementary Studio has also had 2 Primary Studio Nesters who have spent time in our studio during Core Skills time. This process assists in the transition from one studio to another. The Nesters are diligently working on their goal of completing their Golden Bead Challenges.

The Elementary Studio kicked off Writer’s Workshop on Tuesday by providing some engaging tasks in a collaborative environment. The Eagles practiced in creating catchy story starters, and complete topic sentences.

For the Seeds of Potential Challenge this week, the Eagles were taken out of their comfort zone when asked to create their measurement tool. The initial confusion turned into laughter as the Eagles’ critical thinking skills evolved and turned into a river of creativity. The Eagles also enjoyed getting to know one another better by finding studio mates who shared some common and uncommon likes and thoughts.

On Thursday, the Eagles started their day with Coach Lou. Physical fitness is enjoyed so much that they don’t realize how much they’re working their bodies.

Later that morning, both studios were brought together for Tuneful Tuesdays (on a Thursday this week). We all had the opportunity to hear how amazing our friends’ voices are, and see that we have future performers in the house too! The Eagles wrapped up their week with more inviting writing games and gained experience in strengthening their Full Circle Feedback skills.



Second Week Successes

Week 2 was as equally engaging, energizing, and fun as the first week. The Elementary Studio Eagles explored how to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, tough). They also began their Core Skills sessions by making weekly goals for each session and working hard to meet and/or exceed their goals. Below are pictures of a team-building activity in which the Eagles thoroughly enjoyed! The Eagles learned that the challenge was a lot more complicated than they expected. As well as when they worked together harmoniously to accomplish a common goal, then they were successful at achieving their goal.

This past week was filled with team-building challenges and exploratory challenges that highlighted the application of the scientific method, along with practice using the question funnel and trial and error methods. Below, you will see pictures of the Eagles participating in a duct tape pass challenge, bamboo beach ball challenge, and a variety of scientific method challenges. They tremendously enjoyed these activities, and I enjoyed witnessing their creativity and critical thinking skills flourish.

We wrapped up the week by exploring the Decision Chain, which discussed the importance of identifying the choices, pros, and cons for each option, along with weighing each pro and con. The Eagles participated in their first Town Hall & Eagle Buck Council meetings. As the week progressed, the Eagles’ focus grew during Core Skills time. Their ability to pay attention to detail during studio maintenance, and to hold one another accountable also became stronger. Coach Lou also visited the Elementary Studio for the first time this school year, and the Eagles had a BLAST! His energy and love are contagious for sure!



First Week Down

I cannot believe we’ve already completed our first week of school in the Elementary Studio! We have all had a wonderful week getting to know one another, and getting back into the swing of things. The Eagles have had blast during the Team Building activities, with the favorite being this year’s Lip Dub Challenge. The Eagles chose I Gotta Feelin’ for this year’s challenge, and they rocked their challenge! Their energy and dance moves were contagious and felt by all.

We started off the year with a Prediction Tools Quest, with the first week focusing on the meaning and application of a Hero’s Journey, Accountability Systems, D.E.A.R., and S.M.A.R.T Goal Setting. Eagles are learning about the studio tools available to them. Eagles are embarking on the next part of the quest, Self-Knowledge Tools, and some have excitedly discovered their Love Language and Learning Style.

Our Elementary Eagles are adapting to studio life once again and working hard to collaborate as a team, and learning how to take personal responsibility for their learning, as well as manage their time efficiently.

Prediction Tools Quest Map
Love Languages & Learning Styles
Attributes of a Hero
Hero's Journey Framework For The Book: Six Dots



Badge of Honor

We have about eight more weeks of work left this school year, which is truly hard to get my head around. It’s even harder for the Eagles to get their head around the work left to do and the time with which to do it. We say at Acton a lot that it is really hard to get into a hole that you can’t get out of. We have some learners just about done with all their badges and are wrapping things up. Some have a little steeper hill to climb but are becoming confident in their ability to finish. And still others are starting to finally understand why we emphasize time management.

If your Eagle seems to be struggling, you can offer encouragement as well as asking the following questions and seeking verification:

  1. Are you doing at least 45 minutes of math each and every day?  Are you watching the videos?

  2. Do you have a Badge Book and are you reading at least 30 minutes each day?

  3. Are you doing every challenge for your Writers’ Workshop?

  4. Are you doing every Civilization challenge?

  5. Are you doing every Quest challenge?

  6. Are you guarding against distractions and avoiding being asked for Eagle Bucks?

In the age of YouTube, smart phones, tablets, and instant stimulation, we have to fight harder than ever for our learners’ attention spans. To focus on the same task to the point of completion is becoming a rare quality, and while guides don’t provide redirection when Eagles go off task, parents can set up additional consequences at home for failure to get the job done. This is not punishment, but as a lesson in accountability. It is much like what we studied in coding - ‘When A happens, then so does B. When A doesn’t happen, then C happens.’ Check-ins and questions are just some of the tools we have at our disposal, as well as making clear from the get-go that they will be held accountable.

I have handed more and more of the Studio culture over to the Eagles. If they want an environment where they can work, they have to uphold it now. If they want a clean studio, which many do and work hard to maintain, they have to hold each other accountable for their messes. I have given them every tool at my disposal. But their Hero’s Journey is their own, and I trust that they will get through their Road of Trials. Tough-minded but warm-hearted. This is how Acton Eagles become Heroes.



Spring Gleaning

As the warm weather draws (hopefully) nearer, I wanted the Eagles to take on a Quest that lets us get outside and focus on the natural world. We’ve spent so much time this year focusing on humanity’s creations through architecture, entrepreneurship, and coding and robotics, and now I want to spend more time focusing on nature’s creations and understanding the order behind things.

We’re beginning our Entomology Quest and I’m incredibly excited to get into what is a very challenging, very involved, but very fun six week project. It will place great emphasis on organization, so the Eagles will need to keep a lot of plates spinning, especially since we’re studying taxonomy which is literally the science of organizing bugs!

We’ll also be doing “Letters to a Hero” for our Writer’s Workshop this session, which will allow them to pick anyone who they believe has changed the world and inspired them personally, and we’ll be crafting very personal letters that will involve research into their hero so they can find common ground and talk about the Hero’s Journey with them.

These next few months will fly by, and I know the Eagles are feeling the pressure to get their badge work done, but as I have repeatedly said to them, if they don’t finish all their badge work, it will still be waiting for them when they come back in the fall. In Acton, there is a lot of work and very high standards, but it is really hard to get into a hole you cannot get out of. Challenge and failure are greater teachers than easy completion, and these learners have met their challenges head-on and will surprise us more and more as time goes on.



Disappearing Act

As a school year goes on, the Acton guide slowly disappear further into the background as Eagles take ownership of their studio. The know-it-all adult wants to step in and go “Work harder. Do better. Be nicer.” This could not be more antithetical to independent learning.

The journey towards learner ownership of a studio involves a LOT of struggle and failure. In fact, ownership cannot happen without said failure. It also involves adults and guides asking themselves what actual failure looks like. Sometimes I watch the Eagles during their Core Skills and think, ‘Why do some of them only choose to read?’ I have to step back and remember that a kid who wants to read is a wonderful thing. How could that be wrong? Is that failure? The other Core Skills aren’t going anywhere. They aren’t running out of time to finish them. If they do, then the pressure starts and they will realize what they have to get done. It will happen, if they made every right choice from the beginning, would there even be a point to them being here?

As you saw at our last Exhibition of Learning, they’ve worked hard on their Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture Quest. It was an excellent opportunity for some tactile, STEM-based learning about long term planning and execution. They have had a blast learning and implementing all the steps of the conception, design, and building process that makes up the Architecture Quest. We’ve had some first-rate guests with valuable insight into the process, including Eagle dad Scott Lindsay.

Additionally, they took home their Writer’s Workshop stories to finish over the break and put their final illustrations into their manuscripts. We did Science Fiction and the learners have had a great time doing research into biology, geology, physics, and astronomy and applying what they’ve learned within a creative framework. Their final products are pretty epic.

We have big plans in 2019, including a Coding & Robotics Quest, a second field trip after our awesome journey to the Center for Puppetry Arts, more ambitious writing projects, a multi-week Process Drama with help from the Serenbe Playhouse, and (most exciting!) the completion of some hard-earned badges.



How Great Presidents (and Learners) are Made

As we wrap things up before heading into Thanksgiving break (and then to the halfway mark for the year!), I want to leave you with something one of our wonderful Board members sent to me.

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a historian and biographer who received her Ph.D from Harvard University and has written extensively on American presidents. Her book Team of Rivals was adapted into the film Lincoln by Steven Spielberg. She recently published Leadership in Turbulent Times. I am posting an interview she did with Ezra Klein recently where she talks about presidents like Lincoln, the Roosevelts, and Johnson. She was asked what it is that makes leaders able to do great things, and she said that the commonality between them all was that they all faced numerous crises in their lives. Facing down those crises is what gave them resilience. It reminds me of what I constantly tell my learners, that if something is easy, if something is not at least a little stressful, then it’s probably not going to help you at all.



Session 4 Week 1 & 2



Session 3 Week 4&5



Open for Business

Our third session is wrapping up, and the Eagles are using the Acton Children’s Business Fair for this session’s Exhibition of Learning. It’s hard to convey how elevated the material has been this session - high level economic principles, the ins and outs of running a business, the perfect amount of chocolate chips to put in a cookie…

I’m incredibly pleased with how engaged the Eagles have been with this material. Like I’ve said before, I had some trepidation at the beginning that the difficulty of this material would turn them off and they would give up immediately. It was unfounded, however, because they have persisted and have shown an appetite for stimulating lessons.

The last week or two of the session have seen a heightened level of stress though, because they are now learning the importance of time management, and the frenzy to get it done at the very end when time management fails. We often say in the Studio that “excellence starts with time management.” This stress has been good, because as we start the next quest, the memory of the stress of those last two weeks will be fresh and they will ask themselves what to do to avoid it (spoiler: use your Quest Time well!).

Since we also have a Studio of football hooligans, the Eagles have introduced a Yellow/Red Card system to maintain order. If the Yellow Card is raised, that means “Caution.” If then the Red Card gets raised, it’s a fine of one Eagle Buck from the community. However, after trying it a few times, the Eagles have decided that might be a little too much power for one Eagle to hold, so they are in the midst of discussing a responsible way to wield the Yellow/Red Card system. It is a potent reminder of our big question of the year - “Does Power Corrupt?”



Stress Response

I was watching an interview with the psychologist Jonathan Haidt the other night, and he was talking about the different reactions to stress. Take a wine glass for instance - if you break a wine glass, that is bad and nothing good comes out of the stress inflicted on the glass. And then take a shatter-proof cup - if you drop it, it doesn’t break, so nothing bad happens, but nothing good happens either.

However, some things need stress placed on them for an optimal response. The immune system, for example, needs exposure to know how to fight illness. Bones need weight on them and stress to grow stronger. A learner is much like this because without challenge, failure, and stress, they will be unable to process failure and hardship as they grow older.

Now there’s stress, and then there’s stress. Bullying, for instance, is something I feel compelled to prevent however I can. Conflict and arguments during a game or sports, however, I feel the need to let the learners work that out themselves. Navigating social conflict in a way that doesn’t end in tears is something that is born out of exposure to the stress of that conflict.

Another type of stress that I’m pleased to see strengthening their resolve is from our E-ship Quest. I was quite anxious as we began that the heady financial and economic principles that are a part of the quest would just be too much for them. I was pleasantly surprised by how engaged they are by the material, and with how much gusto they tackle the work. I’m crazy excited to see their booths at the Acton Children’s Business Fair on November 9th.

We’ve also been hard at work on Writer’s Workshop where we are writing our memoirs! I’m currently trying to find a medium in which to publish them so they can regale you with their stories. As third and fourth grade brains just begin to move into abstract territory, they are starting to see how a prompt like “Write About a Time When Nothing Happened” is an avenue for them to find that Growth Mindset and look at life in a different way.

In closing, I will leave you with someone much smarter and more articulate than myself to elucidate my ramblings above.



Session 3 Week 11


Music Monday with Mrs. Melanie. Drums and practicing their puppet show.


Sandlot baseball at free time. Beckett can really put a curve on a whiffle ball.


Getting started on unit economics for the entrepreneur quest. Warren Buffett is all the rage with kids.


Couch Louis during PE. After balloons, it’s back to Crossfit with tractor tires.

Farm on a cold morning.  You will never be short on radishes again.


Mr. Ryan avoiding manual labor, as usual.


Wednesday launch on “Grit.” What’s more valuable? Intelligence or grit? The ability to persevere in the face of hardship? To get back up when knocked down?


The Eagle Buck Council deliberating some serious jurisprudence.



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Talent Decoded

I was struck by a passage I was recently reading in Courage to Grow, the book by Laura Sandefer chronicling her and her husband Jeff’s journey to the founding of the first Acton Academy. The passage goes as such:

“Witnessing the chaos is so difficult for me,” Jeff told me one night after a particularly trying day. “It’s just disheartening when the studio turns messy and mean. Some days I just want to give up.”

It was time to add more clarity and structure, some risks and rewards. Jeff designed and introduced a crude economic system based on poker chips. “I am always setting up games and inviting students to play,” he said. “If they don’t work, I design a new one.”

Jeff organized the Eagles into three-person squads. Each Eagle received three chips per week. Each infraction of studio rules that governed “listening” and “respect” triggered the loss of a chip. If everyone wasn’t in place for the opening discussion at 8:30 a.m. or the studio wasn’t pristine by the 3:00 p.m. closing, everyone lost a chip. If every member of a squad had a chip on Friday, the entire squad received a treat. Squad members could loan one another chips, but only if there were consequences in place for the loan.

The poker chip game translated into equipping Eagles to better understand and use the power of Eagle Bucks. They had never practiced how to use them, and like with any new system there was a learning curve. There were days when Eagle Bucks caused personal conflicts between students and there were days when they worked like a charm to keep the group working hard and holding boundaries. As time went on, they decided the system, even if flawed, was much better than needing to revert to having adults order them around.

I myself have had my share of frustrations and even doubts. Games that end in arguments… Eagle Buck requests for petty reasons… I know these learners can be kind and supportive, so what’s missing from the equation?

I think it has been the need to direct them towards the notion that we’re all in this together. That we both succeed and fail as a community. Prior to last week, for an example, we were conducting Studio Maintenance under the guise that if someone’s job isn’t complete, then the studio would just have to be dirty. Now we’re trying the tack that if someone’s job isn’t done, the community loses an Eagle Buck as a whole - a method implemented by Jeff Sandefer himself when the community was inclined towards chaos and lack of cooperation. If it is squeaky clean, then we all get a reward, perhaps extra free time.

Our wonderful Head of School, Malin, lent me a great book called The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. He spends a great amount of time describing how struggle and failure creates new neural pathways in children, increasing focus and perception. For this reason, Japanese schools design their curriculum so that every day is a struggle and a challenge. Contrary to that, American schools are designed to move the students along without resistance or stress.

We’re going to have to learn to not be afraid of struggle and stress. What we should be afraid of is taking the wrong lesson from struggle - that it is to be avoided. Instead, let us try to learn that struggle creates literal growth, while ease and comfort stand in the way of it.

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Seeds of Potential

The end of our first session is the perfect time for us to begin visiting Serenbe Farms. Kaitlin, Matt, and Lance have been teaching the Eagles about planting seeds, and the what the right conditions have to be for those seeds to successfully grow. The soil has to be tilled and prepared, it has to be weeded continuously, it has to be given light and water, and they have to be patient for many weeks before it can be harvested.

Much like the radishes, the Eagles are beginning to plant their own seeds. The first six weeks were spent preparing the soil, and now they will be planting the seeds in the form of more difficult quests and writing. The core skills are getting more challenging, and the risk of community collapse is always present, meaning the Eagles have to be vigilant about using the systems in firm but kind ways. It will be weeks and months before they see the fruits of their efforts, but if they tend to the soil, they will grow.

The Eagles have made SO MUCH progress in finding their individual focus and flow. I’m so proud of each of them in finding what their distractions are and eliminating them. However, Acton Academy uses a huge amount of collaboration, and this has been a struggle zone for almost all of them. Understandably, how often are learners told “You have one hour to work with a partner to get this done. Now go get it done.” For the entirety of their educational lives, they have been given step-by-step instructions for every task, and made to work at desks quietly and without partners. Now they are given a task, told to work with members of their community to get it done, and to figure out how to get it done. This is daunting. And, of course, their first instinct is usually to chat, giggle, and not always use their time wisely. This means when the clock runs out, they have to take ownership of the product and how they used their time to create that product. This often leads to some tears - at first. But remember that Acton says “Fail early, fail often.” They will remember the frustration of having to own an unfinished product, and reflect on how they used their time. They will ask themselves if they tended to the soil, and gave their seeds water and sunlight. If they didn’t, they won’t have radishes. If they did, then we all get salads.

As always, I encourage all of you to consistently ask your learners what their strengths are, what their struggles are, what time did they use wisely and what time did they use poorly. They are all highly intelligent and highly self-aware, and continually surprise me with their insight. They will use that insight to fly higher and higher this year, even through the occasional stormy weather.



Exhibition of Yearning

So we’re at the official end of our first six-week session, culminating in our first Exhibition of Learning. These exhibitions are a regular showcase of our progress in the studio, and the Quests and skills we have focused on. The Exhibitions are completely learner-planned and learner-run. A guide’s influence is minimal, and I’m extremely proud of what the Eagles put together.

Though energy levels were through the roof and excitement spills over, I was so happy to see that through the giggles and nerves was a planned, structured presentation of our system’s and skills. The signing of our final community-created Contract gives us a fair, compassionate system to guide our conduct going forward, and a code they can use to govern themselves.

At the exhibition, I saw leaders stepping up and learners taking responsibility. You’ll probably notice that we don’t shush children, we don’t remind them of what their responsibilities are, and we don’t control their decisions.

Acton doesn’t just allow for failure, it necessitates it. In these first six weeks, we’ve had failures, which means we’ve learned. The difference is so vast between week one and week six that I have to step back just to see it all. And the difference between our first Exhibition and our last will be something I can’t wait to see.

Now that we have our permanent Contract of Promises, you can ask your learners how they affect the community. How does your learner internalize them and execute them. The process through which these Eagles will embody these Promises and systems is in motion now, and if you look close, the progress presents itself. As always, I strongly encourage you to look again at the parents’ Hero’s Journey available on the Google Drive for parents, and to continue to engage your Eagle and ask them about their goals and feelings about progress in the studio.


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Eagle Buck Requests Will Continue Until Morale Improves

We’re near the end of our Tribe Building Quest, on the cusp of bigger challenges and ambitions. If I’ve learned anything from this first Quest of the first year of Acton Academy, it would probably be to never underestimate a learner’s appetite for challenge and ambition. The deliberate pace of this first quest resulted in fun and high morale a week or two ago, but restlessness and frustration as we come to the end. I suspect it’s because they’ve been given this accountability system (the Eagle Bucks) which they are still trying to figure out how to use with intentionality. However, it’s set up this way because they will remember these frustrations when higher stakes are introduced, as they are about to be. Our Eagle Buck Store will be up and running soon, and they will see what the result of the hard work they’ve put into their Core Skills can get them. And if they plateau with their EB earnings, it will affect their movement in the Freedom Levels, where you gain or lose responsibilities and privileges. When these elements are in play, the Eagles will know the importance of maintaining the integrity of the EB system. That importance became considerably more apparent this week during a difficult but vital episode.

The EB system consists of an Eagle Buck Council of three learners elected by the community. It is their job to meet during free time on Fridays to make decisions about the legitimacy of each Eagle Buck request and act accordingly. It is a big, challenging responsibility, as you have to be the embodiment of justice for the community. As it were, the community felt that the Council had a tendency to play a bit of favorites and to not use their time wisely, which affects the rest of the community’s free time. This is natural, and something any learner would probably do when being the first to carry such a responsibility. So when the community decided to impeach the Council and elect a new one, it was a tough experience for everyone, but it was a vital learning moment where everyone saw just how great the weight of being on the Council is, and it will largely dictate the behavior of the new Council moving forward. Additionally, the community sees that when we break the Promises, there are more EB requests, therefore less free time because the Council has to use it to conduct Council business. They also see how when EB requests are used for petty reasons, it creates more work and less free time, and shows the importance of justice and reason when using the system.

These frustrations and temporary setbacks are not meant for shaming and highlighting failure (although we always try to keep in mind the powerful learning tool that failure can be), but to foster independence and decision-making with integrity. We’ve seen huge progress in so many areas from so many Eagles, and now we have so many big Quests ahead of us. They will have a foundation for using the systems to help them be productive and independent. They have seen the systems succeed as well as fail, and their Hero’s Journey moves into the next phase.

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