A Chaotic Year, Summarized. Also, How I’ve Grown

I have had quite the dynamic experience with What’s the Story this year. This current year for me has already held a truckload of challenges, be them scheduling issues or technological mishaps. I had more than a month where I wasn’t affiliated with any group. Fortunately, that eventually was resolved and I am working with the wonderful LGBTQ+ Teens and Mental Health group. These challenges have helped me improve in the categories addressed by What’s the Story’s learning standards.

Firstly, one learning indicator that I feel I have progressed in is Standard 2.1; Responsible & Involved Citizenship (Strategic). This addresses one’s ability to determine a clear and concise way of expressing their goal and to be able to apply that focus statement to their approach of the What’s the Story program. I have gone from being incapable of stating my team’s vision statement because I had no team to having a somewhat decent clue of what my team’s goals were and have, as I write this post, reached a point where I am able to work on the production of my group’s final product with our goal completely in mind. According to the rubric for Responsible & Involved Citizenship, I have reached the third out of four targets. The final target that I hope to reach is to be able to interpret my group’s impact on our target audience, which requires us to have a mostly completed project and to be in the Going Public phase of What’s the Story. If all goes well, I should reach this threshold before the school year ends.

Another category that I have grown in is Standard 1.2; Self Direction (Teamwork). This indicator is, as its name suggests, about developing vital teamwork and communication skills as an individual and a team. Despite having participated in one cohort of What’s the Story prior to the current one, I did not enter the year as proficient in this learning target. This is due to the circumstances of my first year of What’s the Story. I was partnered with my twin brother, Theo, so I did not have to tackle logistical dilemmas such as how to properly format a weekly hangout or how to most efficiently make media available to all the needed personas. As mentioned before, at the start of the year I was not the best at this realm of communication. Throughout the year, I have learned not only how to behave as a good long-distance team member but also how to reflect on my contributions to my team. These lessons have given me much more confidence towards facilitating group projects, which is invaluable in school. I am proud of how I have grown in this area over the school year.

One final standard that I have seen improvement in is Standard 3.1; Clear and Effective Communication (Storytelling). In my first year of What’s the Story, my group was able to create a film, but it wasn’t the film that we had originally wanted. During this year, we have focused much more on the art of storytelling through film and text than we did in Cohort 4. This standard refers to the aforementioned multimedia storytelling and being able to apply those skills to other realms of life. I have been able to use my filmmaking skills in all areas of school, my hobbies, and to help others, so I believe that I have fulfilled this standard now.

One area that I will be working on over the next month is Purpose, Audience, & Organization (3.3). Though I’ve grown in this area, I still believe that I can improve more over the next month. This is because target 3 of 3.3 refers to creating supplementary materials, which is one area that my group is planning to start on before the next retreat. I don’t anticipate fully meeting that learning target before the retreat, but I think that I can make quite a bit of progress. This growth will be with the help of my teammates, so therefore I will probably not need much, if any, external help.

Miles Ellis Novotny

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