Final Reflection

Expected Learning


Teachers have always complimented me on being a self directed learner, but in truth, I’ve never felt like it was true.  I can get things done on my own, but I’ll often procrastinate and put projects off until right before the deadline. Putting things off made me stressed, but I never felt motivated enough to work on something until it was almost due. Being a part of What’s the Story meant I was also part of a group who I had to answer to.  This helped me with my self-direction and taught me to hold myself to a certain standard in order to not let my group down.

Over the course of the year, I’ve set deadlines for myself in order to make sure I was getting things done on time and not dragging my group down.  I’ve learned that self direction isn’t about having the skills to get things done without structure, it’s about having the skills to create that structure for yourself.  Holding myself accountable meant that I was able to get things done with enough time to fine-tune them and really put in my best effort. I’ve taken extensive notes and organized them, where I would often go without taking notes.  I kept myself on track and organized, and for the first time, really, I could sit back and know I’d done a thorough job with time to spare. I attribute this to being part of a team for an extended period of time, having people to answer to and people other than myself benefiting from what I achieved. Over the course of this year, I feel like working with my group has helped me to be self directed as an individual.

I plan to continue building my skills in self direction by practicing what I’ve learned this year; setting my own deadlines, holding myself to a higher standard, and finding new ways to keep myself on track.

Responsible and Involved Citizenship:

Responsible and Involved Citizenship is a “transferable skill” that I’ve heard mentioned since seventh grade.  I’ve been graded on it for almost three years, but it was always somewhat unclear what standard was used to grade us on it, and exactly what we had to do to be a “responsible and involved citizen.”

Although my classes at school may not have found many ways to incorporate Responsible and Involved Citizenship, it’s been part of almost everything I’ve done at What’s The Story.  What better way to be an involved citizen than to try to create social change?

Throughout the year, I’ve helped run an Instagram page promoting body positivity. My group posted body positive messages and artwork, celebrating the beauty in every body.  I sent a survey out to my school, collecting information on how students feel about themselves, adult insights, and the harmful behaviors people have engaged in to try to fit the societal ideal of “beauty.”  I’ve worked with my group to create a film that has real, raw stories of people struggling, but also hope and advice to encourage conversations and self-love. I also worked on a website, linking resources for people who need help.  

As I move forward, I want to keep striving to make positive change in my school, community, and world, whether I get a grade for it or not.

Informed and Integrative Thinker:

During my time working on my project for What’s The Story, I did a lot of research on statistics and data regarding body image. I also conducted a survey and synthesized the data I gathered from it.  Part of using the data was the critical thinking involved in fact checking and deciding whether it was relevant. My group and I had to decide what information to include in our documentary, which facts and statistics pertained to our topic and were the most evocative.  We had to learn a lot about our topic; so much information that we didn’t include in our film at all but which created a better understanding of our topic so we could do it justice.

In the future I’ll continue to build on my former knowledge as well as what I learned at What’s The Story to make sure I know what I’m talking about and explore topics in order to more fully understand them.

Clear and Effective Communication:

Clear and effective communication is a vital part of teamwork, and I feel like I’ve grown a lot in this area during my work with my What’s The Story team.  From checking in and explaining where I’m at with my portion of the work to negotiating details and finding compromises to organizing my notes to share, collaborating with other people has helped me to grow my skills in communication.  I’ve communication with my group over Sunday night check-ins, written reflections to communicate what I’ve learned, and practiced clear and effective communication in a variety of other ways.

I plan to continue working on my skills in this area through my writing and reporting for my school newspaper, the Blue and Gold.  This allows me to practice clear and effective communication; communicating with a large audience.

Unexpected Learning:

Learning to Let Go:

I’ve always wanted to be in control of my decisions and projects and plans. Teamwork isn’t a strong point for me; I prefer to work independently; to be accountable only to myself and have only myself to blame if something goes wrong. Group projects were something I found tedious and frustrating, where I would do most of the work and endure “collaboration” to get a good grade. So I wasn’t really sure what I was doing-signing up for a year creating a film with other people.

Throughout the process of creating our film, I’ve had to let go of little things along the way. Ideas for our mission statement, pieces of interviews, even bigger things, like creating an entire different website when I’d already worked to make one. I had to think about more than just how I wanted the project to turn out. It was also about cultivating relationships in my group, and the give and take of letting other people do what they wanted, and understanding that they did the same for me.

So all during this year, I’ve been letting go of things, big and small, hopes and ideas and email drafts. But I’ve also been gaining patience with not having things go my way, and better skills to handle working with other people in the future.

Not Leaning on Other People:

Along with letting go can come a sense of detachment. Once something isn’t going entirely your way, it’s easy to let it slip and become lax in your efforts, to let other people do the work.

Sometimes I felt like I was switching back and forth-fighting to not let go, and then, when I wasn’t completely content with the way things were going, I’d be lazy, evading the work because I felt less connected to it.

The issue is finding the balance; knowing how to let go of ideas, but also pitching in and putting in full effort behind someone else’s plan, even if it wasn’t one I was crazy about. That’s a big part of what I learned this year; staying motivated enough to keep putting work into something that I could let someone else deal with.

Adelle MacDowell

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