The Crazy Blur, of an Amazing Year

Part #1:

In the beginning of the year there was no doubt that I was excited for this program, and excited for the learning to come. I definitely did not realize how much work it takes to complete this course, and to do it with purpose. It gives us a lot of opportunity to learn, but we have to take up the opportunities by ourselves. That is why self-direction was one of the learning targets of this year and I can totally understand why. Throughout this year I have learned to push myself and actually get things done even when there is not a deadline set in stone, because there is a personal deadline to complete. I think that What’s the Story did a good job of slowly showing us that we need to create our own deadlines. In the beginning of the year we had a due date for a blog post every single Sunday, then we slowly adjusted to a deadline that our team created for getting work done. The end of the year was when our team had a big deadline. May first, to get our documentary and website done. Up to that deadline we where all working on our own part of the projects and we were setting goals based in each week that we had to get one. So that we would not let our teammates down, and we could have our projects done as close to the due date as possible. My growth in this skill has not really been just straight up getting better at it, I feel like I have learned how to do it in different ways. Instead of just getting work done on time, I feel like I have learned how to set mini goals throughout a longer period of time, to get to the end goal with a polished piece of work. I have leaned ways to make sure the work that I get done is the best work I can get done. I think in the future for this skill I want to make it more timely. I feel like I want to use my goal setting to make it quality work, but make sure the quality work can be done efficiently.

Responsible involved citizenship is one of the learning targets that I feel I have learned the most in. In school I feel like I don’t have much of a chance to grow in this skill, because we are stuck in one building most of the time, with the same people everyday. Through What’s the Story I have been able to get out of the classroom setting, and learn in the outside world. I have been able to learn about real problems in our community, and I have learned how to listen to the people in the community and try to help them. Especially since I am in the end of my middle school career, I have been working with the same people for almost 9 years. In what’s the story we work with different people I have never met before, and we try to learn from people in the community. Through that I have been a better citizen because I can adopt to the different type of person I am trying to work with, and learn through. Not only have I leaned how to learn from different people, I have just started becoming more aware of problems that are facing our state and ways we can help. A big part of this was hearing the different groups of learners talk about the issue they are looking into, and how their story is as important as the story that I am working on. In the future I want to really apply what I have learned this year. I want to actually create the difference that we are learning and talk about. By doing that I feel like, I will be even more of a responsible and involved citizen.

In the work sessions of What’s the Story, when we all come together as a cohort I feel like I learn how to be an informed and integrative thinker. When we are separated I feel like we practice being an informed and integrative thinker. Especially during the first few retreats I felt like I learned how to think about and analyze what people were saying. We also learned how to argue correctly using different tools. I thought that was one of the best things to learn and I will definitely use it later in life. When we were working on the documentary we were trying to choose the best quotes from the people we interviewed. We had to use our skill of analyzing what people were saying, looking at the details of the footage, and how it will flow through the Documentary. There was a lot of different tools that we had to use to pick out the best quotes for what we were trying to say. Then we had to construct the film based on what we learned about forming an effective argument. After this year the skill of thinking about multiply things at once, and using what we learned months ago will be very helpful. I want to just practice this more, and more because I know it will be a valuable skill no matter witch path I take and feel like I need to feel more comfortable doing it often.

Communicating effectively was something that I felt like I was okay at before I started this course. Then, I started this course and it made me question my skill of communicating. Especially when I started working with older students (who communicate so well) and having to keep in touch with people who live almost an hour away from me. The learning I have done in this skill has mostly been identifying the areas that I need work on, and looking at the people who do this skill well and try to learn from them. I still feel like I am not very good at this skill, but compared to the beginning of the year I am much better. I think the main reason why I have grown is with working with older more experienced people then myself. I am so glad that I am one of the younger ones in the group because there is so much I learned and am learning. I want to be able to speak really well, and I want to be able to use vocabulary effectively and not over use words. Again, this skill I feel is so important in life and without being able to communicate well your thoughts wont get understood. You might have very good thoughts and ideas but if you can’t communicate them effectively you won’t be understood and you ideas wont mean as much.

 

Part #2:

One of the first things that really stuck out to me in this course was in the first day, when we were at Middlebury College. Tim gave us a blog post prompt to write, and then he told us we had an hour to work on it and we could work ANYWHERE around that building. He said we could go outside, work down in the lobby, or go get a cappuccino and work in the cafe. I remember thinking “is he joking, or are we actually allowed to work anywhere. He doesn’t care that he can’t see us from the place where he is sitting?” and that is when I really knew that I was not working in middle school anymore. The teachers actually trust us to get work done and get it done wherever we need to, and feel like. It was bizarre to me for a teacher to actually trust students to get work done. From then on, we got more independence and it made me more inclined to do the best work I can. Through that experienced I learned how to be more independent and use my time wisely which is something I definitely do not learn in my middle school classroom, and is very important for the future. Also, in the near future of high school.

This is not exactly something specific that I learned this year, but this course help me push myself. Through pushing me it helped me become a better student. When I was in the process of pushing myself I did not really realize I was doing it, until after I look back on the experience. It was not because the course was hard necessarily, it was just because of the depth you wanted to go into. For example the the project “Research a problem in your state, interview people about it, and create a product to educate people about it” is a little daunting but not too scary. You could do that in a month or two, but you would not learn as much. Doing it in a span of a year makes it feel like the final project should be really well done and polished. That is one of the coolest parts of this program. You can be of any age and experience, and it pushes you to push yourself. Without even realizing it.

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Petra Kapsalis

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