When I was in a traditional school growing up, a bell would always tell me when it was lunchtime or when it was time to move to a different class. The teacher would always tell me when it was time to do Writing or when it was time to do Math. There was always somebody else in control of my schedule, telling me where to be and when to be there.
Because of that experience, I struggled when I came out of school to be at places on time. You may have heard stories about students who go off to college and end up failing or dropping out because they don’t go to their classes. Sadly, they don’t have the inner drive or skill of knowing when to be at places at a certain time. They became used to having somebody else tell them when it’s time to do something or go somewhere.
At Acton Academy, we do things differently. One activity that helps our Eagles learn time management is having a Timekeeper. Each day, a different Eagle is in charge of knowing what the schedule is and wearing the watch. The Timekeeper is in charge of knowing what time it is to get his peers to the right places at the right time. He is also expected to give a two minute-notice when it’s time to move to the next thing on the schedule. The schedule is also on the whiteboard for everyone to see and there are multiple clocks in the studio, however, one person each day has to really be on top of the schedule.
This simple task teaches the Eagles to learn how to read a watch or a clock. They also learn to be responsible with time because if they forget their duty, they start losing points. Here at Acton, we have freedom levels that students earn based on the number of points they have each week. For every minute they are late to the next place to be, they lose points.
During the first week of having a timekeeper, the Eagles decided to enact the “2 minute warning” because they realized that they needed to start putting away the games, computers, books etc. BEFORE it was time to be somewhere.
Yesterday, we had a huge fail that turned into a major priceless learning session for our Eagles. It was free time, and all of the Eagles were completely absorbed in the project they were doing in the backyard. Nobody knew what time it was. The timekeeper didn’t have the watch on. The guide and I waited and wondered when they are going to figure out they should be doing something else by now. 10 minutes went by, then 15, then 20….after waiting for half an hour, we finally gave in because we knew the day would be over. Because of this one mistake, the Timekeeper lost 30 points! Instead of possibly being at the highest freedom level next week, this one mistake will probably put them all at the lowest.
After what happened, we had to have a discussion with the Eagles about making up the time lost. By having a discussion and voting together, they ended up deciding to give up their snack time and 15 minutes of going to the park to make up for the half-hour they lost. Do you think next time they would take it more seriously? We do!
We love it so much when our Eagles are soaring and accomplishing amazing things. However, we also love it when they fail because that is where the real learning and growing occurs.