Heartwood Self-Directed Learning Time

With students working all around me on their own learning projects, I wandered around from room to room and outside to observe.

Students were outside playing Gaga Ball. One of the young men taught me how to play in the “snake pit” (the students in this intentional community have named several places around the building including the Gaga Ball pit, special names become part of the school culture).

I was surprised to find Gaga ball is a real game. I thought it was made up by the kids. The students do have variations on the game and one aspect of self-directed learning is to learn to change the rules to suit the situation. Knowing that rules are flexible and how to work together to transition them is an important element in effective personal and business adult life. Students learn to try new ideas and keep the ones that work well, while discarding the ones that don’t work. This can be applied simply to gaga ball and it’s rules, kind of like poker or monopoly may have different house rules.

Going inside I noticed a student sitting all by himself with a device. I asked him if I could talk to him for a few minutes. He said I could. I asked what he was working on, and he told me, “art.” I asked if I could see his work and he showed me what he was working on and previous pieces he had. We talked about his use of colors, but he didn’t seem interested in the conversation, so I left him alone to work.

He went right back to work on his art, and a little while later when kids came in to get the pillows off the bunk he was working on, it didn’t faze him one bit. I’m still amazed at how much work these kids can get done with everything going on around them. Truly, when students want to learn, the concentration is there.

On to another room and another set of students working on a science project. I had heard them asking Anthony about a project they had done with him before, and now they wanted to do it again. He told them they needed corn starch, and they went to look for some. When I came back around, I guess there wasn’t any corn starch, but they had found some items and after what I’m assuming was several trial and error attempts, they were very excited to have made their goo. All I could do was smile. It’s exciting when students are interested in science!

Students have arts and craft supplies available to them as well. When I asked these two what they were working on as they were getting out supplies, they said, “crafts.”

I just realized these simple one word answers may seem rude to some because each time, the child answered quickly without really looking at me or engaging with me. I didn’t feel it was rude at all though, because I could tell they were engrossed in the projects they were working on, which is the whole point. Self-direction in action is beautiful. The students are really engaged and not concerned about being judged or hindered, but just enjoying learning.

Students can spend as much or as little time on an activity as they choose.

I didn’t get any pictures, but at one point several students went out front to roll down the hill in bubble balls. If that isn’t a hands on lesson in physics, I don’t know what is. The kids blew up the bubble balls, and proceeded to take turns rolling down the hill, making adjustments as needed. It was amazing to see them exploring and learning about their physical world.

Several of the pictures I took that day didn’t show up on my phone. I’m not technology inclined and didn’t check the pictures, my last phone was so good to me and took great pictures, this one seems a little more picky so several of the shots I thought I had gotten, I hadn’t. Probably a problem between the phone and the chair. At any rate, I enjoyed spending time watching the children learn in the ways they chose.

Geometry, chemistry, physics, math, reading, creativity and soft skills like consideration, team work, group think and respect for others were observed throughout the day. These are the goals of every school and Heartwood is hitting the nail on the head!

Heartwood’s Impromptu Field Trips: Requesting Donations for a Van

Heartwood’s creative soul also takes impromptu field trips. The students drive the program, and while some field trips are planned, sometimes they’ll just hop in the car and go.

While waiting for Lit Club, I heard about trips to Home Depot and Ikea. Students were looking at furniture to figure out what might work for their needs and gathering supplies for projects.

Real life application of math and science happens daily, but sometimes getting out on a trip makes a big difference too.

The afternoon I was there, some of the students went for an outing to look at an on location site of “Raising Dion,” a movie being filmed nearby.  This was not a planned trip, and not all students could go because of space available in a personal vehicle, but the one’s left behind didn’t seem to worry about it; they were excited to hear the adventures of those who went.  As far as I could tell, there’s no favoritism, so everyone eventually gets a chance to go on an interesting trip.

Heartwood’s students created a soap club and are now bringing in revenue to help fund their activities and trips.

Exposure to how to make soap came to Heartwood students through an “offering.” Offerings are classes or group opportunities that can be created by adults or children.

About 1 1/2 years ago, they watched soap being made. The kids really liked the idea of making soap and wanted to make some too. Now, they have a revenue generating school based business that generates some money for their trips and supplies. Making soap, “for people that wash,” is one of the many activities that grew from a self-directed adventure.

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They also have bake sales, and a portion of the monthly budget goes toward funding student chosen activities.

With all the complaints about current student populations not understanding basic financials, this seems like an excellent way to teach the students how money works.

Heartwood is raising the money for a van so they can make more trips as a large group. As for now, they use their personal vehicles and ask parents to help drive when they can.

Lack of money doesn’t seem to bother the staff though, they use what they have to help the children learn and grow every day.

 

Heartwood’s Lit Club

“Ok, I can talk to you, but not too long, I have to read 50 pages by 1:00.”

I was speaking with an older student, trying to figure out how I was going to fit the self directed philosophy with high school age students.

We talked about how she was miserable in her middle school and really enjoys learning at Heartwood. She talked about how her other friends at her other school were not really friends, she doesn’t talk to them much anymore, but she has great new friends, of all ages. She pointed to a little one and said, “a five year old is my friend.” Above all, she’s happy.

This sense of community extends into social activism, one of the premises of Heartwood.

One of the ways students learn social activism is through Lit Club. The selection they were discussing the day I visited was an excerpt from Dear Martin, by Nic Stone.

Four students came to Lit Club, two boys and two girls. I only got pictures of the girls though because the discussion got very interesting and I forgot to take pictures during the actual Lit Club.

Heartwood Individual Reading before Lit ClubHeartwood Lit Club

From what I understand about Lit Club, an offering by co-director Julia, books are chosen from different resources for their profoundness. The students then decide the order in which they read the books. Students can have a say in the selections as well, but they seem to really enjoy Julia’s selections.

A book discussion like any other adult book discussion I’ve been to commenced. Everyone made statements or asked questions about the book.

The excitement and wonder was palpable, over an excerpt of a book!  They answered Julia’s questions and added to her comments as well as made their own comments and questions about the book.

Again, time became irrelevant as I listened to the discussion about their feelings over what happened to characters in this section and comparisons to other books they’ve read in Lit Club.

Several times standard literature vocabulary like plot and point of view were used.  This was a true literature circle with students comparing and contrasting to events in other works as well. They were able to ask and answer higher order thinking questions.

I was in awe and thrilled.

How many times had I hoped my students would read and get into a book, ANY book, but they’re usually stuck to a device, staring at the screen, or have that glazed over look that says, “I wish this was over.” Seeing and hearing students really discussing a book using the vocabulary on their own was amazing.

I realized self-directed curriculum really does cover everything that needs to be covered in the standard curriculum. Children are so ready to learn, we just have to give them the space and there’s no limit to what they can do.

Heartwood’s Self-Directed Legal Team!

Heartwood has a self-directed Legal Team! This team of students chooses to meet and study mock trial and debate skills.

But Tama, I thought you said everyone was just playing and doing their own style of learning. Yes, they were, but they also can request to create specific learning groups or join an “offering,” which can be made by anyone.

Offerings are those interests an adult or student can create a class around. During my visit I was able to see Heartwood’s Legal Team in action.

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Created as an offering by Co-Director Anthony, Legal Team is an activity students choose to be in.  We met in a small room beyond the focus door and the kids discussed the process of mock trials and read through a scenario about a young boy accused of breaking windows out of old Mr. Willie’s house.

The kids took turns reading and discussing the case, using worksheets from previous legal team meetings where they have been working on the process of a trial. They all received copies of the accusations and witnesses.

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With the sounds of playing filtering in through the closed window, these students were focused and ready to learn. They came up with creative ideas and reasons of guilt or innocence using information pertaining to the case. While they analyzed what the witnesses said and did, one boy literally jumped about a bit, but the movement didn’t phase anyone or stop the process of learning. The jumping boy participated in the discussion while jumping!

Anthony discussed legal team with me as an offering he thought the students would enjoy and like any teacher these days, he pulled information from online to assist him in working through the mock trial process.

I don’t know how long the class lasted. I think when the students and teacher are engaged with each other, the concept of time can be lost. The duration of the class is listed on the daily schedule, but I didn’t see anyone checking the time during the class to see when it would be over. Something tells me that if it runs long or short  because of the needs of the students, that’s OK too.

 

 

 

 

Heartwood Self-Directed Lunch Time!

Heartwood lunch time probably doesn’t look like any other school lunch time you’ve seen. Students are allowed to eat the food they bring when they want and practically wherever they want, but there is a regular “Lunch Time” on the daily activities board, and most students eat within this time frame.

When we returned from the post office it was time for me to eat lunch.

Every student brings their own lunch, and as I navigated my way into the kitchen to heat up my lunch, looking for utensils and cups, I stepped over and around students sitting on the floor with their lunch packs open, chatting and enjoying their sustenance. Students were happy to help me find what I needed, and I heated up my lunch, and poured some community juice left over from a recent event.

When I sat down to eat, one student was eating, another working on math problems.

Heartwood Lunch

I peaked over the shoulder of the young lady working on math, and talked to her about it some. She was working through a worksheet on Khanacademy.org. She had her pencil and paper and was solving math problems on a worksheet, by choice. How wonderful that is to see. She wasn’t particularly excited or discouraged, just concentrating on working out math problems.

 

I know this is how the philosophy of self-directed education works, but it was still amazing to see. Every moment doesn’t necessarily have to be fun and games, but when a student chooses to learn, they learn so much more than if we schedule it for them. I think students that work well within the framework of traditional schools would benefit from this approach as well, the hardest part would be getting the parents on board to trust the student’s choices.

While the young man and I ate and talked about our foods and basic yumminess (including a long discussion about a Hershey’s Cocoa Kiss, that included other tables of students as well) the young lady doing math kept right on working on her online worksheet, asking for help from staff when she needed it.

Upon reflection, I realize there are HUGE advantages to lessening distractibility that come from working in a self-directed environment. With lots of chatter going on around her, here was this young lady working diligently on math.

I on the other hand require quiet when I work. My classrooms in high school were quiet working places when we did our own work, and my mother insisted on quiet when I was at home studying, to which I never complained. So now, when I need to concentrate, I need quiet. I cannot focus with talking, music, movies and the like in the background. When they do happen (since I do not live in a vacuum), I put on my headphones and listen to thunderstorms to block out the unwanted noise. This has been an effective coping skill for me, but I do envy those who can concentrate amid distraction.

I wish I had gotten a picture of students sitting around the kitchen floor, but I was focused on eating!

I did get some of students outside eating. It was a beautiful December day!

Heartwood Lunch 6

 

 

Still Processing Self-Directed Education

Today I had planned on writing several posts on self-direction examples and Heartwood, but ended up just processing what I’ve seen and where I’m going.

Instead of writing about my experiences at Heartwood, I’ve been thinking about how to apply them to the school I’m going to open. What will I do the same and what will I do differently?

Going over the details in my head, I realized, I’m not sure exactly if my thoughts and ideas match the self-direction model.

I have a million ideas for “offerings,” which are classes or lessons offered by adults or children. The students can choose to participate or not. How will I keep the balance between offering interesting educational opportunities and letting the students discover them on their own.

I think this could be a tricky balance.  I definitely need to do more visits and research. When I spoke with staff, they did mention the day I was there was a good day, some days, like the rainy ones can be much more challenging (cooped up children are a challenge for all teachers). I think several visits to several schools will be in order before I can truly make a decision about what my school will offer and look like.

In the meantime, I’ll keep researching and sharing what I find with you. Tomorrow, I’ll get back to telling you about Heartwood, but tonight, I’m going to relax with my public school teacher friends…

Self-Directed Learning in Action is Really Freaking Me Out!

Children’s intentions on paper and filed away for evaluation later, they began their day… by doing WHATEVER THEY CHOSE.

Kids surged into the HQ room en force, and began playing. Rough housing is for outside, but active play can be done in HQ. Students were climbing on furniture and playing loudly. They were learning in the beautiful self-directed way.

I really thought I was prepared, so why was I FREAKING OUT!

I had a great understanding of self-directed learning…in theory…

  1. Self-directed learning is the child deciding how they will invest their time during the school day.
  2. Students are respected no matter what educational choices they make.
  3. Staff uses gentile guidance when help is requested by the child, directing the child to make their own decisions.
  4. Adults tend to want to control situations and children, but it is best for the child to take control of their own decisions.
  5. Freedom Not License – children are free to express themselves and direct themselves as long as it doesn’t interfere with others rights to do the same.

Knowles describes self‑directed learning as “a process in which individuals take the initiative without the help of others in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating goals, identifying human and material resources, and evaluating learning outcomes.” (Manning, 2007).

I understood all of this, and knew this is what I wanted in my new school, so why was I freaking out?!?

I’m sure this is what non-believers in self-directed education imagine self-directed education to be:  Noisy, chaotic and unproductive play with no goal in sight. “They’re not doing anything!” could be the non-believers mantra.

I didn’t want to be freaking out like this; I knew I didn’t want to feel like this; I knew the process… in theory. But the truth was, as much as I didn’t want it, I WAS FREAKING OUT!

Kudos to the staff at Heartwood ALC. When I expressed my feelings, they remained calm and patient and just looked at me with unconditional acceptance as I said several times for the next couple of hours, “This is REALLY FREAKING ME OUT!”

Honestly, the rest of the day until Check Point, which I’ll write about in a later post, is kind of a blur.

20 beautiful children were going about the business of learning in 20 different ways together!  Although it will probably be out of order, I’ll share with you my experiences and hopefully you’ll gain a better understanding of self-direction, and I’ll gain further introspection.

We left the large HQ room by way of the Focus Door. Beyond the Focus Door are 1 large and 2 small rooms as well as a kitchen and restroom. It is an “agreement” that this is the quiet area of the school (agreements are just that, the children and staff discuss what needs to be changed, come up with solutions, test the solutions, and if they work for  several weeks, they become agreements. The children, parents and staff have agreed to follow agreements).

We (the visitors and co-facilitator Julia) went into a smaller room to have a discussion. She explained the program and answered questions. I believe there may have been a student in the room as well, but I was very focused on Julia and the other adults, I think in an attempt to manage my shock.

We took a tour of the building and everyone was welcome to observe and interact with the children and staff.

I went from room to room watching kids, talking to a few. My brain seemed to understand what was happening, but my heart was racing and I could feel my adrenaline levels increase. I’m still not sure why my body was going into what felt like “fight or flight,” but I’m pretty sure that’s what was happening, now that I look back on it. At the time, between trying to remain calm and talking to adults and children, I kept thinking and saying. “This is really freaking me out!”

It took me about 2 1/2 hours to calm down. I don’t know why I felt so threatened, or felt that there was danger (this is what it means to be in fight or flight), because I wasn’t threatened or in danger, and neither was anyone else. The staff and students remained calm the whole time, they talked to me and listened to me with unconditional acceptance while they continued with their daily intentional activities or whatever learning process came to them.

In the late morning, 2 students went with Julia and I to the post office to mail soap orders from soap club. I think I asked to go with them because I needed a moment away from what appeared to be chaos.

We got buckled in and talked about the stamps on the letters (Art Appreciation). We talked about where the boxes were going, and who lived there, describing where South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida were in relation to Georgia (Geography). We talked about where the letters were going, Wyoming, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Carolina. The kids asked many questions, like kids do, and were engaged fully in the discussion.

We arrived at the post office and carried everything in. Julia directed the girls to the line with an explanation that people who need to use the post office stand in line. The girls happily moved to the line and stood calmly waiting for our turn.

When it was our turn, the youngest couldn’t see over the counter, so the older child picked her up.

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She got tired after a while and they used their problem solving skills to find a solution:

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The littlest one was eventually more horizontal than vertical and said she felt like she was flying.

I didn’t take a “flying” picture because I was so worried the little one was going to fall and smack her face on the counter, I felt I had to be “ready,” but after a few minutes I realized I was worried for nothing.

Kids are careful and learn their limits when they are given the opportunity to explore. The bigger girl knew when she was getting tired and put the little one down, neither pushed themselves physically to keep going because they are respectful to each other’s needs. There wasn’t verbal communication about this, but there was also no whining or begging on the little one’s part when she was put down. At one point the little one said they should put a stool so people could see over the counter. I told her to tell the worker, but she didn’t, so I told him what she said, and he smiled and nodded.

That’s what self-direction does for students, they learn to speak their mind and advocate for themselves, they learn their physical limits by testing them, they learn to love learning and they learn to problem solving skills.

For those who are concerned with safety, kids will test their limits whether or not you try to control everything in their environment – every parent, caregiver and educator knows it is impossible to keep a child 100% safe. Isn’t it better to trust a child to self regulate so they will be safer when you’re not there to catch them? Children don’t learn their limits by you telling them what the limits are, they learn by testing them.

One thing I noticed about self-directed learning is when an adult does want to show them something, the kids are attentive and listen. This behavior stems from the trusting and respectful relationship the learning community has for each other.

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When Julia talked about the pricing and keeping track of how much they would owe to send the boxes, the kids were attentive and actively added the numbers. In between adding, they explored their physical limits, enjoyed their sense of community, and were eagerly asking questions about different displays in the post office.

Self-directed children are comfortable in different settings, easily adapt to the situations and are more confident in themselves as well as their decision making and problem solving skills. These are all qualities colleges and employers seek when recruiting.

This was a HUGE lesson for me. By the time we returned from the post office, I was at ease with the actual process of self-direction. My freaking out was over, my body was over the imaginary threat, and my mind was ready to learn and absorb this wonderful way of teaching in action.

*Side Note: I feel kinda bad not knowing all the kids names, so I didn’t use any of them. I know little girl and bigger girl are not very personalized, but I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by leaving out their name either.

 

Manning, 2007.  Self-directed learning: A key component of adult learning theory.  Business and Public Administration Studies. Retrieved from: https://www.bpastudies.org/bpastudies/article/view/38/78

Can a 5 Year Old Have Intentions?

Next up was intention groups! What a great way to start the day! This is a great habit for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest!

As an adult, I run down my list of things to do throughout the day, and usually start my day looking over my calendar and/or checklist.  Heartwood ALC instills this value in their students by explaining the process and giving children time to start their day and explore their own intentions.

Children went from the “stand up” meeting to smaller groups where they wrote down their intentions. They are so well versed in the routine, the only direction needed was letting them know it was time for intentions.

Each of the 3 facilitators work with a group of children, 8 in a group. The overall ratio is 8:1 with and ideal ratio of 8 -10:1. So they hit their mark!  Each group has a journal area; students quickly retrieved their journals and wrote their intentions for the day. If the student is not able to write their intentions other students help them, or write the intentions for them. Students take a few minutes to do this while the daily assigned group leader is identified.

Students rotate leadership responsibility (this is flexible depending on the child’s request) in the group and begin the group by choosing a group game building communication and community skills. The morning game was “frog” where everyone except the person picking the frog closes their eyes. Once the frog is picked, everyone opens their eyes. If the frog sticks his tongue out at you, you die!  The detective tries to guess who the frog is, if they do, the frog dies!

This particular morning the game started with 3 visitors in the group including myself. One child was killed by the frog, and no one knew who the frog was… the tension was growing as everyone looked everyone else in the eye… then the frog gave herself up! She said she didn’t want to play anymore.

Everyone easily accepted the game was over, some expressed a little disappointment, but only for a moment, and then the group moved on with their day.

What does this have to do with intentions? Well, I didn’t ask officially, but I’m assuming with the overall intention of Heartwood being to build a community of learners, this helps to build that community without pushing the kids, it happens organically.

Intentions are a way to start the day with purpose; staff model behavior, participating with the students by also having a journal and writing their intentions.

In a self-directed school, students are allowed to learn at their own pace, study subjects they are interested in  when they are interested in them, work on activities of their choosing, and interact with others as little or as much as they choose. Humans are social creatures, so most of the time is filled with social interactions.

The students don’t discuss their intentions, unless they want to. In this case, no one shared except one young man whom I asked. I asked him if he had his intentions in his head, and he told me no, he had already written them down (the transition to the children writing in their journals was so smooth, I didn’t realize it was happening until it had already happened). I told him he was a fast writer (he looked quizzically at me). I then explained that am interested in working with older students, and I would probably be asking him a lot of questions throughout the day if that was OK. He said “sure.” I asked if he would mind sharing his intentions for the day with me. He said “sure,” and told me he planned on playing in the gym, going to the coffee shop and working on his music.

Some may feel like that is not an example of school at all. Where are the lessons? How can a student learn from playing in the gym or going to the coffee shop? Working on music is all fine and good, on your own time, but how does that relate to what you really need to be learning in life?

The self-directed philosophy supports and TRUSTS the child knows what they need to learn when they need to learn it.  This is not a new concept. Ancient philosophers Buddha Siddhartha Guatama Shakyamuni  (c. 563/480 – c. 483/400 BCE), and the Theosophy movement (3rd century CE) are both credited with the basic principle of, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” This is not the original quote obviously, but has been updated for current times.

As adults we learn like this. You do not remember everything from your school age years, and it is impossible to remember everything you have learned over the years. BUT think about those times you were really into learning about something, anything, a subject or skill you CHOSE. Think about how much time and effort you put into it, how interesting it was, and how much you ENJOYED yourself, even if the material or skill was tough!  This is the basis of self directed learning. When you have intentions, the sky truly is the limit.

I challenge you to live your day with intention – start your morning with an intention list and see where your intentional learning day takes you.

 

 

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! HEARTWOOD ALC STUDENTS ARE HAPPY LEARNERS!

All CAPS today because I am excitedly yelling about this school! I feel like a caller for a newspaper (I’m pretty sure that’s what the people who yelled, “Extra! Extra!…” were called. I Googled it, but was unable to find anything definitive. I’m going off memory here, so please correct me if I’m wrong)!

I arrived at Heartwood excited and nervous. School hours are 9:00-2:45. It was 8:45 and no students had shown up yet. I was worried I had the wrong time, date or even location as I stared at the sign that clearly said Heartwood ALC. I had confirmed the visit, so I knew I was in the right place, at the right time, but it felt eerily empty.

Within a few minutes students began to arrive, and Anthony, Lead Facilitator and Co-Director came outside. I recognized him from his picture on the website and introduced myself. He welcomed me and invited me in. Within 30 seconds of entering the building students and visitors began to arrive.

The atmosphere changed immediately to a palpable energy that was positive and swirling everywhere!

Students came in and hung up their personal items, took off their shoes and socialized. It was very similar to a public school class coming in except these kids were all different ages 5-14, and they were not being directed by staff through their morning routine.

Without any direct instruction, the children moved through their morning habits and joined together in HQ (the school community has organically named all of the rooms in the building except for the kitchen and bathrooms) for the morning meeting.

While waiting for their morning meeting, a stand up meeting designed for brevity and productivity, children were talking and moving around, a few were jumping or climbing on furniture.  It is in some children’s nature to jump and climb and Heartwood nurtures those needs in children.

I have read and studied several radical educational approaches, so I wasn’t alarmed by this behavior, it is natural for children to explore their world and test their limits. I smiled and observed, listening and talking to the adult visitors and staff about ourselves, the school and the display boards and programs or “offerings.”

When everyone was assembled, bell chimes rang through the air and the room quieted down, focus turned to the process at hand.

First the homeless box, Anthony held up items asking, “Who’s jacket is this?” Who’s Socks are these?” He said it was brought up that he didn’t show the socks, and against his preference, he began to show each pair of socks. Children responded to every item saying who they thought it belonged to, or that it was their own. This took all of maybe 90 seconds and children reunited with their belongings were happy.

He then went down the daily schedule board reviewing the plan for the day for students and visitors.  The children listened and chimed in. Everyone was asked if there was anything to add, I don’t remember if anyone had anything to say, but I was excited about seeing this model in action.

I don’t know how long the stand up meeting was, but it wasn’t long and none of the children wandered off or got side tracked, they were moving a bit, but they were paying attention and engaged.

I will share the day with you throughout the week. Join me tomorrow for what happens next…

 

Excitement Abounds! My First School Visit!

I cannot begin to express how excited (and a bit nervous) I am about my first school visit. Whether public or private, schools are extremely busy places and I am so very thankful when administrators, directors, faculty or staff agree to have me as a guest.

I have 4 school visits lined up over the next few months, and I cannot wait to get to each school.

Heartwood ALC has agreed to let me visit today. Since this is my first school visit, I’m not really sure what to expect (although I’m sure all schools do their tours differently). I have a list of questions I want to ask, and I’m sure more will pop up as I spend some time at the school (technically, learning center, but I like calling all the wonderful locations that teach, schools).

Heartwood is part of an organization of Agile Learning Centers that facilitate the learning process through self-directed learning, democratic process, and Kanban. Kanban is an organizational system utilized to facilitate changing a system to meet the needs of the people using the system.

It is amazing that as busy as schools are, they are willing to share their process with visitors. All the schools I have contacted have been more than happy to meet with me in person, and some have offered to have conversations with me on the phone immediately. These education professionals take time out of the extremely busy schedule to teach people from the community about their school, the process, and give advice. Much wisdom has been imparted to me over these phone conversations.

I seem a bit to excited to write and must get ready for my trip. I will fill in all the details when I get back.