I’ve written up a post about this recent ALF Weekend over on the ALF blog, you can see it here.
Last fall at ALF Weekend 2014 we participated in a game where we wrote out what we did, what we have “juice” for, what we want to be doing, and what action we are taking to get there. We wrote these down then went around the room and spoke them out to our peers, then everyone would suggest additions. It was a super powerful process an
It’s a year later and prompted by @abbyo post and @ryanshollenberger post I’ve decided to update my ALF Accountability information. If any ALFs out there want to do the same I’ll leave instructions at the bottom of this post.
The following is taken from the Mapping ALF Accountabilities Doc, updates are sub bulleted, additions are italic, while subtractions are
strike through. Note: Some of these bullet points were added by me, others were added by my fellow ALFs, that should explain the change in tense.
What I do
Facilitate ALC in Everett
- I finished facilitating Everett in April of 2015, read my debrief here
Consult with Everett board Train other Everett ALFs (parents for now)
- This didn’t ever happen, because there wasn’t a clear vision for the school we never could onboard more people and the parents didn’t have time/energy to become facilitators
- Manage/Administer ALC web sites
- This has been going well.
- Administer Google Apps
- Still doing this, over the summer we moved to a network account away from the NYC Google Apps account. Still need to get down clear procedures around this as well as:
- Train new Google Apps admin
- Consult on Tech Questions / IT Support for network
- Been doing quite a lot of this. You can schedule time with me via my office hours.
- Do designy things
- Get things done without being a busybody
- My work/life balance has been really good recently, I do spend a whole lot of time on ALC stuff, but I just love working on it!
- Bring experience of successes & failures from other social orgs and efforts
- Bring balance of cynicism, sarcasm & hopefulness
- Such a graceful fuck up!
- The title of my Everett debrief is “The failure of Everett was a great success”, also check out my post about redefining failure
Narrate destruction of woodthis was tongue in cheek from the weekend in 2014
- Help the group move to creative space even on challenging issues
- Says yes when asked to play… with a seemingly infinite comfort-zone
- Still saying yes!
- Offer support to kids in other ALCs
- Now that’s I’ve stepped out of a facilitation role I haven’t been doing this as much, but am still available!
- Readily stepping into accountability
- I’ve been doing a lot to create accountability structures
- Bringing “medium as the message” to doing important work in the world
- I blog to inspire others to create shareable value!
- Makes us laugh, brings joy & lightness
- Builder of internet infrastructure for reaching humanity
- Watch and answer startup/membership emails
- Be available to new ALC members for Office Hours
- Create documentation to orient new ALFs and New Member ALCs
- Support and encourage other ALFs to step into higher levels of responsibility and take ownership over roles in the network
- Support other ALFs in their practice
- Share ALC with people and create promotional propaganda
- Consulting with public schools!
- Continue to get better at the Ukulele!
What gives me Juice
- A loving and supportive community
- Interesting people
- Earth-shattering ideas
- ALC fits my theory of change
- Motivate others to document/share stuff
- When people use tools I built
- Check out the awesome websites that are being created on the platform I created!
- Sharing knowledge and learning from others
- When I can receive emotional support
- Seeing others working effectively / achieving their goals
- Seeing people have realistic analysis of the world recognizing opportunities ahead
- Getting to do things outside of normal skill sets
What I Want to be Doing
Support kids on other ALCs
- It’s not that I don’t want to do this, but it’s less of a focus for me. I’d rather support ALFs who then support kids!
- Introducing new schools, indoctrinating them
- I’m starting to do this!
- Recruiting facilitators, freeing prison teachers
- Currently working on ALF membrane and ALF pipeline to achieve this goal!
- Want to be developing entrepreneurial aspiration of people and students in the network
- Connecting ALCs to other orgs, like intentional communities, homeschooling, counter cultural groups
- Create docs around ALC methods that apply to other educational contexts
- Evangelizing for ALCs
- Create a worker-owner cooperative that provides Agile consulting services and employees ALFs
Practicing ALFness in Everettsuccess! Building Everett to build skills to do it again/more/consultsuccess!
- Abnormal travel post-Everett, ingratiatingly
Train another Everett ALFfailure! Motivate Everett parents to engage more activelyfailure! Connect with indigenous groups & activists in Seattle area and share ALCfailure!
- Connect past friends/connections to ALC
- Getting the ALF pipeline worked out brings me closer to this goal
- Clearly define ALF integration workflow
- Create by-laws for ALF consulting coop
- Hire an intern to work on web development stuff
- Uplift more ALFs into network roles
- Support @sarataleff, @rochellehudson, @abram, and others in creating a vision for the ALC Network
Overall I see my role in this network to make it easy for people to accomplish what they want to do. Be that existing ALFs or people out in the world who want to create a better future for children. I feel that the more I define and document how we do things the easier it will be for people to engage with our network or create their own complementary networks.
It is through my work helping other people achieve their goals that I am fulfilled. Every time I see someone use a process or tool I’ve developed (or better, helped them develop) I am inspired to do more.
My time in this organization has been a great one, truly an upward spiral
Just like the last time we did this, if you see anything I’ve missed please comment below.
Write your own accountability post!
If you wish to participate please write a blog post with the tag:
Answer the following questions:
- What I do: (for the network and in your local ALC community)
- Juice: What gives you juice (what about the community or your work powers you up?)
- Want: What do you want to do (in an ideal world)
- Action: What actions are you taking or will you take to do this
You can see everyone’s post on the network feed site (this is a thing!) under the alfaccountability tag:
The post Mapping my ALF Accountability: What I do and want to do appeared first on Drew the ALF's blog.
ALF Weekend Fall 2015 is over, the work has been done, and now it is time to write some blog posts. I am doing a post in two parts focusing on the outcomes and the organization of the weekend. This post will cover how the weekend was organized, what work and what could have been better.
Planning the Weekend
In the weeks leading up to the ALF Weekend @rochellehudson was attempting to organize space to host ALFs for the weekend. Ten days prior to the start of ALF Weekend @abbyo set up a Trello Board to being capturing project ideas that were being discussed on a Monday Call. Six days before the opening of ALF Weekend I began organizing in ernest by setting up a structure and schedule.
Step 1: Organizing Retreats
The first ALF Weekend in Fall 2014 took place at in upstate NY where most of our network met in person (read @nancy’s account on her blog). For me it was a powerful community building time, it was the first time that I hung out with my fellow ALFs outside of the intense ALF Summer. It was much more focused on looking in, strengthening our bonds and developing our network.
Take Away: In person events are the best way to experience an ALF weekend, if possible.
The Fall 2015 ALF Weekend wasn’t able to coordinate around a shared physical space. In our reflections there was agreement that save a large network gathering the next best thing is to have regional gatherings. If possible try to organize local space to co-work and collaborate for—at least—some of the ALF Weekend Days.
Take a look at @rochellehudson’s form for gathering information on interest around a retreat, on this Google Form (note: all ALC Network sites have access to the Gravity Forms plugin for creating forms directly on your sites!). Her form asked for the following:
- Name (important and easy to forget this!)
- Do you plan to participate in our Fall 2015 ALF Weekend? (with dates)
- Are you able and willing to travel to [location], for this weekend?
- If you can’t travel to [location], do you still plan to work on network projects virtually that weekend?
- How much would you be willing to pay, per night, for an in-person retreat?
- Other than the cost of lodging, how much $ could you put toward food & other expenses we could share?
- Additional quetsions/comments:
Checklist: Try and gather this information from the network early! Get an idea of the cost, location, and logistics needs.
Step 2: Capture Project Ideas
There is always lots to do around the network and in local communities. Start to visualize this early! Abby took the initiative to create a Trello Board with two main lists, one for network projects and another for local projects. After hearing people say “we should do that at ALF Weekend” she created a space to hold those intentions.
Checklist: Create a container to hold ALF Weekend intentions.
Create a Trello Board with the following lists:
- Network Projects
- Local Projects
Then begin adding (and asking people to add) intentions as cards. Use labels to denote Network and Local ideas for work. I will go into more detail on how to organize a Trello Board later.
Step 3: Create an Overview & Infastructure
With less than a week before the start of ALF Weekend I didn’t see much more movement (aside from Rochelle and Abby) to schedule the time and projects. So I just took a stab at it, admittedly I could have reached out for support, but really I should have started the process much earlier.
Take Away: Start organizing a framework for the weekend early so there can be more feedback and buy-in from the community.
I wrote up the ALF Weekend Fall 2015 organizing document mostly for myself, to organize my thoughts, and also as something to share. As is typical with me, it was probably a little over kill and I don’t know if many people really took the time to read through the whole thing. If I were to do it over again I would have:
- Added a section about how the Trello board worked.
- Simplified the schedule and put it at the top.
- Started the document earlier to gather more information about projects
Checklist: Create an overview of ALF weekend. Include the following:
- Introduction, if people will be taking on roles, make them explicit, share important links at the top.
- Create clear expectations, one of the major take aways from this weekend was the need to make explicit that if you say you are going to be somewhere then you will be expected to be there. This can be supported by a clear schedule which I’ll go over later.
- Schedule overview, outline the structure of each day. If all the days will share the same structure then simplify it.
- Introduce projects, give people an idea of some projects that will be worked on.
- Project name
- Link to project’s Trello card on the ALF weekend board (or what ever system you decide to use)
- Description of project
- Supporting links (Trello cards, conversation threads, blog posts, documents, etc.)
Checklist: Set up communication infrastructure.
Because this was a mostly online event I figured that we might need extra space to meet virtually. We have a dedicated Google Hangout video conference room for meetings, but if people were working on projects at the same time that would get problematic. I was also worried that if people set up their own hangouts there would be confusion over who was where doing what!
To alleviate this I created two more hangout rooms by going to my personal gmail account, navigating to hangouts.google.com and creating an empty call. I than made the call open to the public, grabbed the link, and used the Redirection plugin (available on all network sites under Tools > Redirection) to create custom links. The result:
- Main Room: http://agilelearningcenters.org/hangout
- Red Room: http://agilelearningcenters.org/hangout-red
- Blue Room: http://agilelearningcenters.org/hangout-blue
These links should still work far into the future, so no need to set up more unless you want to!
Checklist: Set up the Trello
I expanded Abby’s Trello Board to include lists for each session so people could move cards into specific time slots. I also added labels to give cards a visual color marking to indicate information about them.
- READ US FIRST: a list of cards with basic information about the board and ALF Weekend
- Unscheduled Topics: list of cards that haven’t been scheduled. Cards that didn’t get worked on got moved back to this list.
- Don’t know what to do? Do this!: This list was added mid-weekend to hold cards that could be worked on without much prompting.
- Happening NOW! This list held cards that were currently being worked on from the sessions.
- Session Lists: These lists were for each session (as pictured above) when a session ended cards were moved off and the session list was archived.
- Pend until… This list holds cards that need additional work at a later date.
- Done! And ready to be blogged about This list is for finished cards/projects!
At the top of each session list I added a card called RSVP with the session time and date. I requested that people add their names to a checklist on each card to indicate when they were coming. This might have been too overly complex… people took to adding cards into sessions saying that they weren’t going to be there or were going to be late, so you might want to pave those cow paths when you do this.
Labels! I used labels to indicate network projects from local projects as well as to indicate facilitation information cards (like the RSVP cards) and also to indicate which hangout room a card’s discussion was held in (main, red, blue):
Again, this was all a little bit over designed. I’m sure it could be remixed to be more lean.
Step 4: Create a Schedule Framework
For this ALF Summer I created a schedule with two 4 hour blocks each day. These “sessions” had a mini SCRUM (or a time in which individuals come together to schedule individual appointments and projects with each other) at the beginning, a “break” in the middle where people were asked to come back together to check-in, and a closing reflection period (all times are Eastern):
9am – Morning work session – Starts with 15 minute SCRUM in Main room
11am – Break – Check-in in the Main room
1pm – End Morning Session – Reflect, document results, check-out in Main room
3pm – Afternoon work Session – Starts with 15 minute SCRUM in Main room
5pm – Break – Check-in in the Main room
7pm – End Afternoon Session – Reflect, document results, check-out in Main room
A note on timing, I chose the start and end times to account for the wide variety of time zones ALFs are coming from. The Afternoon session starts at noon on the west coast and 10am in Hawaii, take this into account when planning your ALF Weekend to be inclusive!
A note on breaks, the idea behind having a mid-session break was 1) to make space for people to take care of themselves, stand up, move around, etc. 2) to make space for people who were late to integrate into the session. The idea was to have people check back into the main hangout before leaving to take care of themselves.
Overall there was a positive response to this configuration and in the first few days there was a lot of participation. However it dropped off as the weekend went on (well, we started Thursday, so by the time the weekend actually came…). The feedback I got was that people burnt out showing up to session SCRUMs to find that the people they wanted to work with weren’t there. Though, I think more shorter sessions might also work, you should mix it up!
Take Away: Have a Set-the-Weekend meeting to establish clear expectations of participation and planning when projects will be worked on.
I did hold a Set-the-Weekend meeting on Thursday night (after the first day’s sessions) but it was announced on very short notice. I did, however, like the format:
- Next time: Have everyone commit to sessions they will attend first! Document who will be at what sessions and hold each other accountable.
- SCRUM! Start moving projects into session slots, set specific times if need-be.
- Long form Check-ins, we saved our check-ins for the end of the meeting to give everyone more time to talk. Each of us went around and discussed what we were doing in the network and/or our local community. We used this time to bond and share our successes with people we maybe haven’t seen in a while. Remember: ALF Weekend is also about community building!
Checklist: Schedule a Set-the-Weekend meeting well in advance! This is probably the most important meeting of the whole weekend, especially if it is virtual!
Step 5: Hold Coherence
I felt a high degree of ownership over the weekend so I held much of the coherence around being at meetings, facilitating, and sharing information. I wish I had had more time to collaborate and share some of the responsibility with others. Here’s a list of tasks that need doing throughout the weekend:
- Facilitating session SCRUMs. Making sure trello cards get moved and that people are aware of what is going on.
- Facilitating session breaks. Make sure late comers are brought up to speed on what’s going on.
- Facilitating session reflections. Make sure work is documented and cards get moved.
- Send end-of-day recap. I sent out an email at the end of each day that went over everything that had been worked on, this helps keep people too busy in the loop.
Checklist: Assign people these roles.
Step 6: Document the Result
I see this blog post and the one that will follow it as key to this (or any) event. I want other ALFs to feel empowered to take on this kind of responsibility which is why I try and make explicit what and how I do things.
If you are reading this with the intention to organize an ALF weekend or similar event I hope you find this useful and I also hope that you remix this!
- ALF Weekend Trello Board (I think we should keep using this for future weekends)
- ALF Weekend Fall 2015 organizing document
- ALF Weekend Organizing Template (make a copy of this if you want to use it!)
- Rochelle’s Retreat Google Form
Have any ideas for additions to this document? Comments, criticisms, or praise for the organization of ALF Weekend? Share it in the comments below.
A big thanks to everyone who made ALF Weekend awesome this year!
It’s blogging time at ALCNYC and I thought I’d write down a little reflection about what I’ve been up to.
CASA Consulting gig
The big news was settling my first (perhaps the first) ALC consulting gig. A few weeks ago I got in contact with Jamaal from Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA) Middle School in the Bronx and spoke to him about CASA’s move toward self-directed education and our work at ALC. I then went to meet him and was thrilled by the work they were doing there!
Later @bear, @tomis, @artbrock, and me wrote up a proposal to Enhance Self-Directed Learning at CASA Middle School. After a few edits and meetings we nailed it down and on Monday got confirmation! It’s very exciting and we will be starting our observation and planning within the month.
I hope this will set a foundation and give us a tool set to bring Agile Learning Tools into public schools.
Upgrading the Website
I went through the somewhat tedious process of upgrading our website to WordPress 4.3.1, you can read the release notes here. You can see all the stuff I did on the commit history of our website git repository.
I jumped back into Duolingo recently with the intention to do a 50 day streak, which means earning 20px per day for 50 days. I’m currently on day 14 and working on sizes and house hold object names.
Setting up ALF Weekend
I was inspired to pick up and run with the organizing of the upcoming ALF weekend. I wrote up a, possibly overly complicated system to work on stuff as a community remotely. I split up the weekend, which goes from Thursday to Monday into two four hour chunks each day which relate to a Trello board where people can put projects they wish to work on.
I’m really excited for the weekend and think it will be super productive.
I also paid a parking ticket! (booooo)
I wanted to write up a quick post about posting to this website. Sometimes we, as facilitators, help our students publish their blogs. Maybe they write them in a text document and ask us to perform the technical task of publishing them or perhaps we type as they dictate. However it happens here is a quick tip to make sure the student, not the facilitator, gets the author credit.
When you make a new blog post it will be attributed to who ever is currently logged in. As I write this post it has already been set to display me as an author, but we can change this! Let’s say that I’m logged in as myself (Drew) and I want to change the author of the post to the student I’m writing it for.
Setting the Author While Writing
Once you’ve written the post (even after you’ve published it, but best to do this first) you’ll want to scroll to the bottom of the main text input area and find a box titled Author. If you don’t see it, you’ll need to turn it on:
At the top right of the edit post screen (or any backend screen for that matter) you’ll see a tab called Screen Options. Click that and it will drop down.
Each of these items under show on screen is a “meta box” that can be toggled on or off. Make sure the check box next to Author is checked. Now move down the page and find the Author meta box:
Simple change the drop down box to the proper person! Then update/publish the page.
Changing past posts
You can use the above method for changing the author of any post, but there is an easier way. First navigate to All Posts by clicking Posts in the blogs dashboard, be sure you are in the correct blog when doing this!
You will see a list of all posts with the author along side. If you need to change a single post just hover over the post title, a few more options will appear under it, you’ll want to select Quick Edit.
Click that to expose the quick edit menu.
Here you will have the same Author drop down menu, just change the author and click Update.
You can also click the check boxes on each post who’s author you wish to change and click on the Bulk Actions drop down and select Edit. This will give you a similar option box as pictured above but when you update it it will change all selected posts in bulk.
Why Should You Care?
When a post shows up on the activity feed it comes along with an author’s name, the post title, and the blog name. This can cause some confusion if you don’t know the student’s blog name, it might look like you are suffering from some split personality issues and having radically different reflections on the same week.
It also makes searching for a student’s blog post more difficult because if one searches for an author’s name it wont pull up the posts you’ve written.
We’ve been discussing ALF membranes recently. With the ALF website coming online and the network growing, being able to define who is an ALF and what kind of ALF they are is getting to be increasingly important. At it’s base there is a need to validate and recognize that people understand and embody our roots, principles, and practices. There is also a need to create membranes of trust so that as our network grows we can better identify who has what skills and who should be a part of which conversations.
Currently we are using tongue-in-cheek working titles to describe a “baking” process where new ALFs start as Eggs, become Kneaded, get baked, then move on to become muffin holders and muffin tins.
The following chart describes each area and level of ALFing (source):
|I am||I have already||I agree to||The Network agrees to|
|Egg||declared intention||-fill out online form saying “I have an interest in learning to ALF”
-Not a spam bot
-Read about ALC
-Be open to communication with the Network
|-Collect form submissions
-give feedback to that person
-shares the info on that form with others in the Network
|Kneaded||Been invited into an ALC space to participate||-To begin practicing being an ALF
-honor agreements (general & specific to community)
|Provides support for Cake Holders to exisit (Cake holders work with rising ALFs, not necessarly Network, obviously there may be some exceptions here)|
|Baked ALF||Has been declared “Baked” through the process of a peer review||-Creates shareable value (blog, youtube video, speaking at alternative ed events, etc)
-participate in ongoing collaboration
-abide by ALF Network CMB
-model tool use and principales embodiment (to support RAs)
|-Brands you as “baked”
-Adds you to ALF email list & weekly calls
-Invited to contribute in ALF Summer
|I am||Cake Holder||Muffin Tin||Network Holder|
|I have||Started holidng space or coherence for a domain:
|-ability to translate tools & practices in different contexts / ability to facilitate facilitators||-focus on supporting, nurtureing, growing the ALC network|
|I agree to||-Support RAs & BAs
-be responsible for space/domain
|-refrain from dogmatisim
|-support CHs and MTs
-outward faces of Network
|The Network agrees to||-Stay in conversation about needs and available resources
-Affirms your efficacy through peer review process annually
Notice how the chart at first describes a linear process, one moves from Egg to Kneaded, to Baked. Then the diagram shifts to describe how an ALF can choose to move into different areas of focus. This whole process is very unusual. We are trying to create a structure that doesn’t grant people authority over others but opens the possibility for individuals to attain high levels of trust in the community.
In an attempt to make this process more clear I’ve created a flow chart that describes the path an individual takes from being a normal person to becoming an ALF.
I would appreciate feedback!