This post is part of a series on Agile Learning Center tools and 2015 ALC Everett #debrief
The daily cycle of intention setting starts with the morning meeting. This meeting is one of the few required activities each student agreed to in the ALCE Student Agreement. Because of it’s required status the meeting was held with a high level of reverence by starting on time and pushing for full attendance.
Our basic structure is as follows:
- Intention setting
- Set the day
- Share intentions
Once the meeting was started we could jump into short check-ins. This process is to give people space to let others know how they are feeling. Making our current emotional state explicit helps the general group dynamic. If I’m feeling stressed out its best to let others know so they can take that information into mind when interacting with me.
In practice the students typically would talk more about their mornings or dreams they had that night.
The process of setting the day starts with time spent thinking about what each individual wants or needs to get done. We would sit together and manipulate our personal kanban boards.
Further into year we tried different configurations of this activity. Noticing that some students needed help figuring out what they wanted/needed to do we turned this activity into a small group exercise, illustrated below:
We started by pairing off, each pair would brain storm what activities they both individually wanted to do. After a few minutes of this we would join pairs together into small groups and repeat the process. Sometimes we would change up the process and require that each person presented for the other. So if Nick and Jurr were in a pair, when they joined a group Jurr would talk about what Nick wanted to get done and Nick would review Jurr’s intentions with the group.
From there we would join into a full group with our intentions much more though out.
This was very effective because it gave each student the individual attention that I, as sole facilitator, couldn’t give them. In addition trusting students to step into the role of facilitator with their peers is empowering.
Once our personal intentions were set we would move into the Scrum phase. This is a term that comes from Agile Project Management and refers, possibly, to the Rugby activity of the Scrum, where players work together to move the ball towards the goal.
Our goal, to extend the metaphor, is to accomplish our intentions. Many intentions require coordination with other people. So Scrum time is where we negotiate with each other about when to do things.
For instance, three of us might have books we want to read. We might use the Scrum to coordinate with each other and other peers to create a quite place for a few hours.
Alternatively I might need help from a student doing a personal project and I’ll negotiate a time to get that thing done with them.
Typically Scrum (and the following set-the-day and intention sharing) is done standing to keep energy up and meeting time brief.
Set the Day
Once we have set our personal intentions and figured out when we can do the things we turn our attention to the Group Kanban’s doing column where we find each hour of the school day laid out. We add group activities to the board and (as a rule introduced later) we add individual activities as well.
Setting the day is important because it makes our plans explicit. If someone were to walk into the school they would be able to see the outcome of our morning meeting on the Group Kanban board and have a general idea of where we were and what we were doing.
In a “low structure” environment, this orientation tool can be very helpful.
Share Personal Intentions
The final step in our morning meeting process is to state our intentions to the group. We stand in a circle and simply say what we plan to do. This small act has a big impact. By telling our peers what we intend to do we are making ourselves accountable to them. If we stray off task our peers can help us get back on task.
Once our intentions are shared we then adjourn the meeting and set off to seize the day.