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.