(Year 4, Week 7)
Every morning at 8:30 a.m. sharp, the heroes get settled in for their morning launch. Before the launch gets started, the guide asks the following question:
Before we move into launch, what rule of engagement should we focus on perfecting today?
Using I agree or disagree?
Or something else?
Every morning it is switched up so the heroes can practice being intentional with their launches. On Monday, the Discovery heroes decided that they wanted to focus on listening respectfully. They made it their goal that nobody would be asked to leave and that they would not get deterred by distractions. They achieved their goal. Nobody was asked to leave and nobody was given a warning about their distractions.
Then Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday rolled around. Again and again, the heroes reached the goal of not being asked to leave and not bringing distractions. The guide pointed this out to them and asked them if they realized how intentional they had been in launches. They looked back with surprise and a few, ‘wow’s!’ They believed it was because of the following:
We are becoming a close group of friends who want the best for each other.
I hated being asked to leave every launch so I was like, ‘c’mon self, figure it out!’
I hated missing fun launches.
I hated feeling like I was letting myself down.
The guide followed up with a question:
Why is it important to you, to not let yourself down?
Because if I can’t keep promises to myself, how will I keep promises to others?
Mindfulness is a sacred time in the studio. It is reserved from 12:40–1:00 every afternoon. Lately, chaos had been erupting throughout the studio. While it is a time reserved for yoga, deep breathing, coloring and reading, the following things could be observed happening in the studio:
- Damaging colored pencils.
- making paper planes and throwing them at fellow heroes.
The chaos had been ebbing and flowing during this time. Coming in from free time, full of energy and excitement, sometimes makes it hard for the heroes to find their calm.
When they reflected on their time in mindfulness, it was interesting to hear how many travelers had been upset about what was happening. Many of the them expressed concern because they deeply value the time to be quiet and still. They were asked a series of questions;
Should mindfulness be a giant group activity?
Should there be only two options during mindfulness and two leaders?
The heroes decided that they wanted two options during mindfulness. They thought that adding in two leaders would be a great way to help keep one another accountable and find flow for mindfulness. They decided to pick yoga and coloring as the two activities and designated two spaces within their community. For the rest of the week they were intentional about their time and using it as a way to wind down and find their center.
One hero expressed her joy when asked about how mindfulness was working,
“I love being able to just spend sometime in my own head. I rarely do that, I like to get to know myself.”
The heroes spent the last week-in-a-half working on probability games and being admitted into the play lab. They were challenged to play new games and try new strategies with the old games they were used to playing. On their Wednesday launch, they were finally being challenged to think about the game that they want to create.
The launch started off with this video:
Franklin Wright was an 8 year old boy who invented the game, Conveyor Belt. He went on to win the national award for best game invention and was soon sponsored by Toys R Us and Hasbro. He even won financial assistance for college and was able to go on and create more games.
The heroes were in awe, that a young boy like Franklin could really live out his dream. They discussed what it would take to create an award winning game and were able to really pinpoint the type of grit he needed to have to follow through. That led to a deep conversation about how fun initial ideas are, yet when the going gets tough, it can be hard to follow through. They talked about how to know when you are getting drained by a project. What they need to do if they feel overwhelmed and how important it would be to come up with a step by step process to see their vision through till the end.
They were challenged after the launch to submit proposals for their ideas. Some of the heroes found this frustrating. They just wanted to start creating. However, they ran into the trouble of realizing, without a budget in place, they couldn’t order any supplies. They also ran into the issue of not even knowing the own rules of the game they were creating. This made bringing their project to life incredibly difficult. They then searched out fellow heroes who seemed to have a deep understanding of how they wanted their games to look and what they would need to ensure success for their execution. While it is a solo project, they did an exceptional job of helping one another figure out their game process.
“It is too hard and I am not doing it!”
One hero yelled this out, to nobody in particular, as he grabbed his headphones, laptop and took off towards the computer room. He then proceeded to sign up for the calming corner room and spend the next fifteen minutes in there, coloring and working on deep breathing.
When approached a few minutes after he came out, he said he was incredibly overwhelmed with math and that he just needed some space. He said he had advanced to a tougher level in Khan and just could not, for the life of him figure out how to do the equations.
That’s a tough situation. How many times are people faced with tough experiences that seem utterly impossible. Maybe a situation at work, with family or a task like long division. He was asked what feeling he had when faced with the problem, the conversation went as follows:
I get this feeling in my stomach and it creeps into my chest and I feel like I could just explode. That’s when I am mean to myself.
That sounds really hard. What do you mean by, ‘I am mean to myself?’
I start saying bad things about myself. Which makes me feel even worse but sometimes I can’t stop.
That is really difficult, I too do that sometimes and it also makes me sad. Have you found anything that helps you in those times?
Yes, I go to the Calming Corner and take 20 deep breaths and say, ‘it’s okay to be sad.’
What a great reminder to be okay with a feeling. Sometimes pushing through the tough stuff can’t happen until our bodies and minds are out of the state of stress. An amazing tool this hero is learning and using. That will no doubt come in hand down the road, on their hero’s journey.
As the heroes entered the building, they were all giggles and high pitched screams! They were met with decorations, spooky singing pumpkins and lots of Halloween fun. The heroes came dressed in their best and it was apparent that they were ready for a spook-filled day. There were dinosaurs, witches and red-eyed goblins. They squealed in delight as the projector played Spooky Scary Skeletons. It was about to be a fabulous day.
As they settled into launch they were told a haunted tale and were asked what they would do in the situation. Every single one of their hands raised, proving, the more creative a launch is, the more the heroes want to join in. Even with all of the fun and games, the heroes settled right into core skills. They were determined to get their points so they could join in the holiday fun.
When 1:00 rolled around, they were squealing with delight. A photo-booth was set up, face-painting was front and center and some heroes choreographed a dance. They ran around with their friends, hiding behind corners to scare one another and had an absolute blast.
The party really took off when the parents rolled up with their decorated trunks and candy filled bags. While the world around us is still sorting itself out, it was wonderful to see a bit of normalcy at Heroes Academy.
Week two of the second session brought out the determination in the heroes. It seemed as though they were really getting the hang of tracking points. During the week, the guide only had to check in with a few heroes to help them track and to explain the importance of tracking in the studio. Another wonderful aspect of the week was during closings. The bug of leading launches had caught on and everyday during the week, the guide had stepped back and watched as heroes took turns leading closing. Asking questions such as:
What was your high and what was your low during the day?
What was the most important thing you learned today?
On a scale of 1–5, no 3’s how would you rate your day?
Watching the learners completely embrace the learner-driven community is a sight everyone should have the privilege of seeing.