Today I had the delight of bringing two wonderful friends to school, not-so-secretly hoping that they would fall in love and want to awaken their potential ALFs. Vincent and Chuck both live in Rhode Island now, working to build and run summer programs on a tall ship, but I met them first in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. It seemed pretty clear to me that they’d love the school and that the kids would enjoy them, and I wasn’t disappointed. Before the day even officially began, my guests were caught up and whirled away from me. I watched, amused, as different students toured, taught, and questioned them throughout the day, and then at the end I sat down with Chuck to ask some questions.
He said the first thing he noticed walking in was the stairs. We laughed and I groaned, but then he explained that the school building has a Frank Lloyd Wright type entrance: the dark, close space of the basement, which makes the light and openness of our school really pop in contrast when you finally arrive there.
Once in the space, he noticed that it had lots of rooms, but that all the the open doors made it feel inviting and connected. @failspy had arrived at school early and agreed to take my friends on a tour of the space. I noticed them linger in the maker-space longer than in other rooms, so I peeked in and heard Javair explaining arduinos.
Later, Chuck and Vincent both remarked that the hanging map of the school that @thewitchqueen908 made was also very helpful in helping them stay oriented, and much more intuitive than the daily schedule board, which Chuck said he understood immediately as an organizer but wasn’t sure of its purpose until scrum.
I asked Chuck what he thought about scrum. He reflected that scrum felt very hectic and/but that he liked the idea of a time for the large group to check in about group projects and events. He agreed with some things @shadowjack brought up about having the right to not attend scrum if your day is already full of personal projects and also being able to disengage the space once you’re personally done scrumming rather than waiting for the group to get clear. He really liked that everyone can put their offerings on the daily schedule board, even visitors. He saw immediately how this enabled offering-makers inspire others to check out things they wouldn’t think of on their own.
We gather in our spawn points after scrum to update our kanban boards and share our intentions. Chuck liked the feeling of spawn point, and saw the value in having a small group brainstorm about the day. He summarized the facilitator’s role in this meeting as reminding kids of their intentionality and left-over, uncompleted goals they may want to revsit. He also shared that he appreciated kanbans as a really cool way to visualize a thought process. He described them as “simple and seemingly effective.” Without my mentioning that Ryan and I have been discussing attendance recently, Chuck brought up that spawn point gets bogged down when people don’t arrive on time. Kids trickling in late bring their outside energy, which sets them back in planning their day and also disrupts the focus of the kids who did arrive on time. He noticed that starting the day with a repeatedly interrupted spawn point meeting has the potential to upset the rhythm of the entire day, and I agreed.
Because it is Friday, we went to change-up meeting after spawn point. Chuck said he found it cool that there is a set time for group discussion to create new policies and review agreements that the community is trying or practicing. He liked that the gameshifting board made explicit the organization of the conversation, and he noticed that simply pointing out the gameshifting board was an effective redirection.
After change-up, Chuck went Grocery shopping with Javair. They talked about pizza- making. Chuck observed that Javair was super independent and knew exactly what he needed. When Chuck asked Javair how he found the school, he was amazed to hear Javair explain how he had watched a video about ALC online and just followed up to make it a reality for himself.
Peter was teaching Go when they returned, so Chuck got to learn and play one game. It struck him that the simplicity of the game was what made it so complex. When the game ended, a class on the philosophy of economics was starting, so he went straight there and stayed for the next two hours. He said he enjoyed hearing Javair’s research and thoughts. He also enjoyed the discussion format of the class, and he appreciated that Javair was able to lead the conversation without lecturing.
Then the day was over! Chuck made a book (and talked to me!) during the blogging time, read through lots of other folks’ blog posts, and has already asked about coming back to visit again soon.