Tools & Practices

The structure of an Agile Learning Center is designed to nourish a productive, vibrant, and healthy culture – allowing participants to engage authentically in a learning process that cultivates confidence, dynamic skill sets, mental agility, self-awareness, and group skills. Our tools and practices are constantly evolving to meet the needs of our unique ALC community.

Kanban Boards

Photo Jul 25, 7 09 58 PMAgile Learners use Kanban boards for visually tracking both their personal and community learning projects. The kanban board is a flexible tool that can be modified for use in many different scenarios. A basic iteration of it is a chart that has 3 columns marked “To Do”, “Doing”, & “Done”. When a pursuit or task is first generated it is placed in the “To Do” column. It gets moved to “Doing” and then to “Done” as that task is completed. Because the Kanban board is visual in nature, it helps the user to stay focused, to prioritize time, and to hold themselves accountable for making conscious choices about what they engage in. 

Tools and Practices that support the ALC Cycle of Learning

Intention: Morning Meeting
Morning Meetings can take many forms and they serve an important purpose of starting each day with intention and accountability. They gather the community together to foster connection and to explicitly state how everyone intends to spend their day. By continually engaging in this practice, students are cultivating highly useful skills in time-management, teamwork, self-awareness and self-assessment.
Creation: Offerings Board and Set-The-Week
The Offerings Board lists available and requested class offerings, opportunities, and resources. Facilitators, resource people in the community, and the children themselves can contribute to these offerings. A resource person in the community may offer to teach their craft or host a field trip to allow children to experience it. Set-The-Week is the first morning meeting of the week, which includes introducing and creating the schedule for any opportunities that week. If resource people are coming in to the school at a particular time to hold a class, it is important that this make it onto the schedule so other, more flexible activities can be planned around the special offerings. This is also the time when we identify projects that are going to take multiple days to accomplish, and set weekly intentions. We might set time aside each day to work toward that goal. This is sometimes referred to as a “weekly sprint.” For example, the students may want to perform a play at the end of the week. At the set-the-week meeting, they might decide that every day at 10am, they will hold rehearsal until lunchtime.
Reflection: Afternoon Meeting
The feedback loop that begins with the morning intentions comes full circle at the end of the day with an afternoon meeting. We take this time to ask, “Did we accomplish what we intended to?” If so, how? If not, why not? This is an important bookend that allows for daily reflection on individual and group productivity. This feedback cycle that provides each learner with the awareness they need to constantly improve.
Sharing: Documentation

Documenting our process fulfills the cycle of learning by creating sharable value.  Students may keep record with words, audio, video, or images. It can be visible only to the staff, student, and parents, or it can be made public to varying degrees. No matter the medium of sharing, creative documentation serves as an upgrade to the report card.  This record becomes a digital portfolio of work that is student-generated. This compendium of interests and accomplishments serves as a feedback loop so students can see what they keep returning to, and recognize patterns in their own learning. It can serve to provide parents with a sense of security and safety as they are able to gauge their childs progress and values over time.

Tools and Practices that support Intentional Culture Creation

Community Mastery Board and Change-up Meeting

The Community Mastery Board is an iteration of the Kanban tool by which community culture is created. It is divided into 4 columns: Awareness (community-wide problems that need resolution or), Implementation (the decided-upon action for each awareness), Practicing (the changes we are currently practicing), and Mastery, which means the change has then become the new established norm, and a bit of culture has been created. It\’s important to note that Awarenesses aren\’t always problems. They can also be positive ideas that spring from a desire to add something valuable to the community.

Change-up meetings are attended by the whole community, usually once a week. They use the Community Mastery Board to initiate, implement, and evaluate issues that affect the community. Issues (called “awarenesses”) are brought up, solutions are brainstormed, and an action is decided upon. This isn’t a time to flesh out all the reasons why a solution may be a good idea or not, just a quick brainstorm and a decision to try something for a week. Because we acknowledge that mishaps are inevitable learning experiences, we lean on the experimental aspect of this process to keep these sessions brief and light hearted.

Gameshifting

Gameshifting is a tool that allows a community to better facilitate meetings. Part of its purpose is to make the implicit social rules explicit, and thus give permission to change them. It can help the group alter its dynamic so it can function more efficiently to accomplish different sorts of tasks. Groups often get stuck in singular patterns: the teacher is in charge, the boss must be pleased, tip toe around the executive secretary, some people talk and others listen. When groups get stuck in those patterns, creativity and the ability to adapt are impaired. While a singular existing pattern might be usable for one type of outcome, it limits the group to that one kind of outcome. Being able to intentionally change the patterns helps group engagement take many forms and achieve many kinds of outcomes.

The Gameshifting Board is a visual aid to assist in Gameshifting. They are adaptable to many different kinds of groups and meetings. One possible board could be divided into categories like Mode, Interaction style, Body arrangement, Body energy, Roles, and Start/End. A good example of what each category might mean is the Start/End section, which says Start: on time, threshold, attendance. A marker is placed beside the convention we decide to follow, whether the meeting will start on time at 9am, or when we feel we have reached a threshold of enough people to start, or when the required attendees show up. If we decide to follow a different convention, we can move the marker. This helps make intentional culture by making the group practices explicit and helps us alter the dynamics as needed. For example, are we jumping in, or are we raising our hands? The Gameshifting Board both asks and answers that question as we make use of it, and helps us be reactive to and intentional about the dynamics we are working in.