Coming Up With a Plan

A Note From Our Head of School:

This year, we’ve seen the motivation in the studio ebb and flow. This can happen for many reasons- a learning challenge doesn’t resonate, a hero falls victim to distraction, or feels overwhelmed by the mastery objectives left in their badge plan for the year.

Our guides serve to observe and shepherd this energy- by looking closely and figuring out how to increase the motivation in the studio as a whole or for an individual learner. This can involve tweaking the learning design in some way, uniting the group and moving them toward a common goal or, most often, holding up the mirror for a hero- asking them questions to help them identify where they’re stuck and empowering them to develop a plan to accomplish their goals.

As parents, we can do the same.

Recently, it became clear that my nine year old was struggling. He was doing little work in the studio and his attitude was verging on apathetic. It was clear he was stuck. So, one evening I sat down to talk with him. After asking a few questions that were met with short and uninformative answers, I asked simply, “What’s bothering you?”

He looked at me for a moment and then said, “I don’t think I’m going to finish all my badges by the end of the year.”

Here it was. He was feeling the weight and responsibility of truly being responsible for his own learning. While our model of self-paced learning is designed to empower, it can be hard when you aren’t feeling particularly powerful.

So what do we do in this situation? As parents, we too can hold up the mirror for our children. In asking the right questions, we can help them get “unstuck”.

Here is a helpful process- one that we used just this week in our own home.

Ask the question, “What is priority for you?”

  • being patient with myself
  • allowing myself time to grow
  • planning out my time 

This question helps reinforce the flexibility of our self-paced learning design and remind your child that their individual priorities matter- and can be different from someone else. In our case, our son was crystal-clear on his priority of planning out his time. Finishing his badges by the end of school year was important to him.

The next series of questions were as followed.

“Would you like me to help you plan out your time?” (Yes.)

“Would you like to set aside time today or tomorrow to meet?” (Tomorrow.)

The next day we sat down and he showed me around the online dashboard that tracks his progress. I was sure to offer a lot of growth mindset praise on all that he has accomplished since September and together, we hashed out a plan to complete his goal (not mine) of completing his Level 3 badges by July. I did not touch his computer but I did offer to act as scribe. What resulted was a practical path forward- big goals broken down into bite-size chunks, and an obvious sense of relief and renewed sense of purpose for our son.

By listening closely when our children seem to be weathering an “emotional storm”, reaffirming our belief in them, and offering (rather than imposing) our support, we can show them, again and again, just how powerful they are.

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