This post is part of a series on Agile Learning Center tools and 2015 ALC Everett #debrief
The key to having a robust learning environment is supporting the offering from anyone in the community to share their knowledge and skills. In our student agreement one of the privileges is:
Ability to offer classes/courses/opportunities at ALC Everett
We expect value to be created not only by parents, community members, and facilitators but also by the students. Soliciting and bringing attention to offerings is a primary role of the Facilitator.
At first the offerings process was very informal. Parents, students, or members of the community would directly make an offering, typically to me (the facilitator), or would simply mention it off hand and I would make a note and place it in the “offerings” column on our group kanban. From there I would periodically share it with the students
As the year went on it became clear that this offering process wasn’t working as well as it could. Long term and offerings of a larger scope had a hard time getting picked up.
The offerings that worked had either:
- A short time frame and little setup. When I offered to teach the game Two Boots it was while we were at the park already with disc in hand.
- Had a vision holder. The long term offerings that worked had someone who held “coherence” for that project. They would coordinate with the offerer (if it wasn’t their offering), collect supplies, and build enthusiasm for the project with their peers.
At the center of both of these paths is earnest enthusiasm. If someone is excited to do something it can, and will, excite the people around them. I’m not capable of making a good offering for Calculus because it doesn’t excite me. As such if we want to teach something we have to find someone excited to teach that something. This is a key role for the facilitator, to match enthusiastic teachers with students. I want to be explicit that the teacher title does not necessarily mean adult just as the student isn’t always a young person’s title.
The best example of a successful offering was cedar weaving with Sweetwater. The key areas of success:
- We had two facilitators at the time
- After the offering was made we followed up and invited Sweetwater into our space
- A sign up form was used to “lock in” student support
- One of the facilitators, Abe, acted as the vision holder and held coherence for the offering
- Abe was genuinely excited to learn from Sweetwater
After reviewing this offering I began to re-imagine the offering process with the help of parental input and visiting ALF (Agile Learning Facilitator) Abe’s feedback.
Read Abe’s blog post On Offerings.
I wrote a blog post called Making Offerings Work where I introduced an upgrade to the offering process.
My focus was to create an offering system that made the offering explicit and encouraged students to make a commitment to meet the expectations of offerings that they were drawn to.
The simple addition to the process was a Offering Sheet (PDF). It has the following items:
- Offerer’s name
- Description of the offering
- Dates when the offer is available
- Requirements of participants
- Sign up
Check out these examples:
Lilly offered Chinese language classes any 2 times per week in the morning. She required that participants commit to attend every class. The students that signed up were essentially entering into a contract with the offerer. This contract makes the agreement between the offerer and participants explicit.
The offering process was introduced over winter break. Parents and community members were given a few weeks to craft their offerings then they were invited to present their offerings to the students on the first day of school. Students were given some time to consider the offerings and I asked the first person to sign up to be the vision holder for the offering.
A vision holder is responsible for following up with the offerer and making sure students who sign up are held to account.
The initial tests of this method were very promising, however it wasn’t throughly tested in Everett and probably could be upgraded even further.