This week I had one kiddo in my small group announce that he wanted to be a leader. When our small group discussed what that meant to him, at first the idea was to tell people when to do things. For example, when to eat lunch, when to read books, when to come to our end of day meeting, etc. I let his description sit with the other kids and refrained from chiming in, “Uh…that sounds kinda bossy.”
After a small bit of silence, one of our group members (our group is called the Fire Falcons, by the way), chimed in, “Well, I’m okay with those ideas, but I really don’t want to be told when to eat my lunch.” We then talked about leadership for just a little bit, and about gentle leadership.
Our conclusion came to this: the budding new leader in our school would initiate a time to read books in the library with other kids the next day, as well as start inviting kids to our end of day meeting by saying, “Come on, Fire Falcons, it’s time for our meeting!”
The next day (today), my intention was to support this child in having this reading time. Hearing his desire to tell others in the school to do things made me think that what he really wanted was a set time where other kids would do something with him that he wanted to do: read. This told me that it was hard for him to motivate himself to read quietly on his own without peers. I decided to find him peers that would read with him at any cost! I hunted down kids that I felt I had a strong relationship with and asked them, “When ____ comes to ask you to read, will you please go in the library and support him?” I got 5 girls together, and Book Reading Together (BRT) time was a go!
Interestingly, during this first BRT, (while I got read myself), I ended up reading chapter 13 of Blake Boles’ new book, “The Art of Self-Directed Learning.” The title of this chapter is “Alone, Together.” I’ll include a little excerpt from this chapter:
“Self-directed learners often find themselves facing solitary challenges, simply because they’re not doing the same thing as everyone else. Then they give themselves a hard time for not feeling motivated.
But self-directed learning isn’t about doing everything by yourself. Putting yourself in the right atmosphere, with people who share your interests, and with the right amount of structure, can make all the difference.”
As I read this, I looked up at this student who initiated the BRT and realized that he was craving time to be “Alone, Together.” In a school where the kids are not made to do everything at the same time, he was craving a little more of a school-like feel. Perhaps he missed those times in traditional school where kids just sat still and did something all together at the same time.
And guess what? We can actually give this type of experience to kids who want that in our Agile Learning setting. This is the role of the facilitators. See the children. Know them. Support them. And ask kids to support each other.
Next I looked over at another student who joined our school last spring, a lifelong unschooler that joined us because she wanted friends to learn with. She’s an avid writer and the chapter I just read was about a writing camp where teens go to write together. I stopped and read the chapter to her and proposed an idea to her.
The idea was born yesterday in a brainstorm session between me and the only teen we have our school. We decided we would promote and offer a class for homeschooled teens for FREE in Charlotte. This would help get more older kids in here to interact with our only teen.
My idea after reading this chapter is to offer a free “Writing Together” time for homeschooled teens (and maybe pre-teens) to come here in our library and just have time to write together each week. It can be anything, but the point is to have space with others write.
I’m imagining some social time too, they are kids, lol!
We could run the time in an Agile way – have the kids come, announce their intentions for their writing time, do a solid 45 minutes of independent writing, then we could go outside and talk, hangout, and potentially share our writing with one another.
I think it’s worth a try!