Welcome to Everett!

The ALC in Everett WA is now inactive. I was invited out to Everett in September 2014 to help start an ALC homeschool cooperative with a few families. After 7 months the families decided that their intentions had changed and our little experiment came to an end.

You can read the full debrief here

This website stands as a record for what happened over those seven months. You can keep scrolling to view blog posts that describe how we ran our ALC and what we did over those months.

You’ll notice the menu items Quests, Rules, Duties, and Activities. These are experimental “content types” that take some of our real world structures and attempt to digitize them. If you want to learn more you can contact me directly at drew@alc.network

Intentions and Reflections of the Sterling Family

What follows is the Sterling parent’s reflections on the ALC program which they hosted fall 2014 to spring 2015. This post is part of the Everett ALC Debrief

Jeff and I had the intention of creating a learning community while at the same time supporting the educational requirements for our boys. Prior to the creation of the Everett ALC, we worked for a year practicing and investigating Agile Learning principles.
Through our experience we came to understand that the agile process gives a framework to a more systemic need – that of building community. Our future is dependent on compassionate, sustainable, resilient, thriving communities where each person is acknowledged for the unique being that they are. Each person’s gifts are seen as important to the fabric of the community as a whole.

Starting each day with a circle process in which every participant’s intentions are acknowledged is vital. It is also important for community members to know what others in the community are interested in and working on. People are supported in asking for the assistance they need and are encouraged to offer their support for others. Closing out the day with reflections and ceremony completes the feedback process and sets up the community for the next day.

Although there were many successes with the Everett ALC, including creating a website, learning about web development, practicing permaculture, weaving cedar pouches, telling stories, and frequent park visits, there was a lack of extended community involvement. In retrospect, we believe that having more discussion and coming to community consensus on intentions, guidelines, expectations, commitments, and underlying/overarching  goals would have been very useful.

In January of 2015 we became aware of an existing Washington state educational alternative programs called Alternative Learning Experiences. We spoke with Everett ALC members and moved forward with the expectation that partnering with the local ALE (Port Gardner School) would provide a much needed curriculum base, larger learning community, educators and mentors for ALC participants. After two months of the combined ALE / ALC approach we found that there was not sufficient support in the ALC to keep both programs running this year.

In a truly agile fashion, we are moving ahead with the co-creation of a public school / agile program. The ALE communities throughout Washington state offer fertile ground for planting agile learning seeds. We are working with a local ALE school principle to create an integrated curriculum which will be developed by a student / parent / ALC community partnership. We are utilizing the concepts of a curiosume’ which will facilitate a co-creative learning environment for people of all ages.

Lisa and Jeff

How we structure our day

Our school schedule is Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 5pm. The majority of time is set aside for play, be it going to the park, learning to code, making 3D prints, drawing, watching YouTube, or just generally playing.

One of the few requirement of students is to participate in our morning and end of day meetings. Below is the general structure of those meetings:

Everyday

Morning

  • Check-in: let the group know how you are feeling so they know how to interact with you today.
  • Personal Kanban: we take a few minutes to write down personal intentions for the day. This can be done individually or in small groups.

    Student's personal Kanban
    Student’s personal Kanban
  • Transition Game: something to change the energy level and get everyone standing up!
  • Set the Day Scrum: Coordinate with other people you want to play with, set times for activities, etc.
  • Set the Day: Set individual and group activities for the day.
    • Share Individual Intentions: while we set the day also share our intentions.
Morning Kanban Session
Morning Kanban Session

Afternoon

  • Reflections: We talk about successes and failures in achieving our intentions.
  • Blog Question: Decide what we are going to blog about today, we come up with a question and a list that aid in our reflection process.
  • Write Blog Post: We write on our blogs till 5pm, and finish later if need be.
  • Clean Up!
  • Closing Circle: For the very end of the day we choose a person at random to light a candle and ask a reflective question, like “what are you grateful for” This closes our day.

 

Closing circle.
Closing circle.

Weekly

Start of Week

  • group_kanban_possibleReview Possible Stickies: We look through the offerings that are on our group kanban
  • Add/Remove offerings: After reviewing current sticky notes we then remove stale ones and add new ideas or offerings.
  • Set the Week: Once we have an idea of what can be done we set the week.
  • Continue on to normal set the day…

End of Week

  • group_kanban_awarenessAwareness (“Change up Meeting”): This is where we review awarnesses and review our newly implemented solutions as well as check in on implementations we are practicing.
  • Continue with afternoon Process…

Drew’s ALF Summer Day 3 Reflections

ALF Summer Day 3

We got into talking about the GAME SHIFTING BOARD today.

GAME SHIFTING BOARD

Make implicit rules explicit

The Game Shifting Board outlines the current meeting format.

  • Mode
  • Interaction
  • Body Arrangement
  • Body Energy
  • Roles
  • Start/End

Each of the above points has multiple options which the group decides on. For instance the Mode could be Body Arrangement could be a circle or a standing decision cluster (where people stand on a side of the room to physically show where they stand on an issue)

This seems like a very interesting tool. I wish we had something like this in some Occupy meeting that were very implicit only to those in the know.

Drew’s ALF Summer Day 2 Reflections

ALF Summer Day 2

Started exploring some of the tools and methods the NYC and Charlotte schools use.

INTENTION -> CREATION -> REFLECTION (Cycle)

No boundaries is false.

In Occupy we said there were no leaders, and thus no boundaries, this was not true.

Players will search for those boundaries and push until they reach them.

The trick is to set loose enough boundaries that don’t get in the way of creativity and problem solving. Then be transparent about where and how these boundaries are defined.

In #ALC there is daily and weekly structure that build the player’s portfolio. A daily process is the Intention, Creation and Reflection Cycle.

Intention

Each day players are asked to set intentions while preparing their #KANBAN.

The KANBAN

is a tool for keeping track of projects and ideas as they are broken into tasks. Players move atomic tasks through labeled columns that generally break down into:
  1. Thinking about
  2. To-do
  3. Doing
  4. Done

Intention setting is shared in a standing meeting at the beginning of each day.

This focuses activity and provides space to collaborate.

Sharing intentions provides an accountability mechanism.

Creation

Play is an act of creation. As are other things. This is a space where players fulfill their intentions.

Reflection

At the end of each day players reflect on what they did, how/if their intentions were met.

Reflection is part of all processes, the ultimate goal is having documentation that can be reflected upon to (the portfolio)

This cycle can be used weekly or monthly to set longer term objectives.

Change Up

The player space lacks all but the most basic formal rules. Plays, not facilitators, are tasked with building community norms and rules.

One method for this is the Change Up.

AWARENESS -> IMPLEMENTATION -> PRACTICING -> COMMUNITY MASTERY

At the end of each week players and facilitators meet to bring opportunities or issues to the group.

Awareness Examples:

Opportunity

Someone is willing to gives lessons every Thursday. The group may be interested in organizing making space for these lessons.

Issues

Ants are showing up in the common room. Someone might suggest that the group only eat in the kitchen so not to attract ants. Anyone can propose a solution and move to

Implementation

If there is general agreement among the group then proposals will be tried out for a week.

If it’s not working STOP

It’s better to experiment and risk failing than to draw out process.

Implementations are reflected upon. If it doesn’t work the opportunity/issues are moved back to the awareness phase. Otherwise the activity becomes:

Practicing

A practice is a method that is used by players and reflected upon. Players uphold practices that are working and might abandon those that don’t.

After a proper amount of implementation and reflection practices added to a list of “mastered” practices.

Community Mastery

The body of practices that are second nature to the group or have becomes community norms. Through this process norms are created and documented. A new player is able to read the list of mastered community practices and gain a better understanding of how best to play.

Conclusion

With limited structure it is important to hold what is structured in high esteem. Daily meetings, intention setting, and reflections should be well attended and start on time.

Cycles of intention setting and reflections on execution build structure within which creativity can thrive.

I am excited to learn more about these tools and see them in action.

Drew’s ALF Summer Day 1 Reflections

I biked to the school with one of the other participants.

We sat in circles and performed the dreaded ice breakers today.

Activities of note:

  • If you really knew me.
    People laid bare emotions, were vulnerable in front of strangers. We voluntarily started statements with “if you really knew me…” and followed it with ideas, feels, and stories that only someone who really knew the speaker could/would know.
  • me!
    We walked around the room aimlessly. Someone would raise their hand and shout “me!”, then begin to tip over. It would be up to the others in the room to catch them before they fell. I was caught a time or two in the bystander effect where I didn’t react because I felt others would. No one was left to fall.
  • Intentions and fitting into the future.
    We discussed what we wanted to get out of the program and how it would impact our imagined future. This followed a number of minutes going over the Agile Learning “roots” and discussing some of the tools they use.

Over all I feel really good about the group of people, diverse in their experiences, and the methodology and tools in play.

We had just a bit of time to discuss projects. Web work will commence tomorrow, I’ve got access to a server and will be installing wordpress soon. Today I met with the people interested in making physical improvements. Painting was on the agenda so after discussing what we wanted to do I called paint stores and asked if they had miss tints, or as one person described it over the phone to me, a “goof”.

We drove to the local Black Hawk Hardware Store and picked up a number of “goofs” – maybe 6 big cans and 8 small ones – for about $30 (with 10% off).

A few of us purchased food then relaxed in the cool night.