My Growth Throughout the Year!

At the beginning of the year, self-direction was one of my weaker life-long skills. I know that I have grown in self-direction because when my group needed to go public I took the initiative of making sure my group stayed on task with what we needed to do to go public and I took responsibility for filling out the request form that was needed as a step to go public. I also was able to use this skill while filming the documentary. I did this by helping create questions that my group thought would be meaningful and important questions and pursuing these questions in interviews. I also got better at using Slack to stay in communication with my group as well as ask Tim questions when they arose. One example of this is when I had to fill out the request form so my group could use a room in the Fletcher library. I needed some information that I did not have, and while at the beginning of the year I might have just given up I used the tool Slack to message Tim and figure out what I needed to know. I got much better at being able to manage my time. At first, this was very hard for me because I was very busy with AP and Honors classes and sports. However, after a while, I began to understand how to manage myself. I did this my prioritizing my work. For example, on Sundays, after my group had hangouts I would immediately complete the task I had – or at least do as much of it as I could. I also got better at knowing when I was in over my head and needed help. At the beginning of the year, I thought I could handle all the work, and it often ended up with me with poor quality work and stress. I grew very close with the students in my group as well as my mentor and I felt like when I had too much work I was able to tell them and they would support me and help me work through my tasks. However, this skill was challenging for me at first because it was hard for me to find a story that I wanted to pursue. Originally, I had a different idea for a story than what I ended up choosing. It was also hard for me to identify questions for interviews, but I once I did I had no problems pursuing them. The learning that is next for me with this skill is using feedback from my peers to improve upon my work. Sometimes I find this hard because when I had a specific vision in my mind I want my work to come out like my vision so I won’t listen to other people’s feedback. 


Another life-long skill that I saw growth in towards the end of What’s the Story? was informed and integrative thinking. I noticed my growth when my ability to take information from many different sources and evaluate the information became much better than last year. I first learned this skill at the beginning of What’s the Story? when we first started writing blog posts. I needed this skill in order to write a thoughtful and well-written blog post. However, during the middle of the year, I did not use this skill as much due to my time going to working on our documentary. Just recently, I noticed how much growth I had experienced since the beginning of the year. I noticed this when I used this skill to write an essay for my biology final. By learning this skill at the beginning of the year I could easily and more effectively write an essay with many varied sources and use the information to write a good essay. In general, this skill was not particularly challenging for me as a student, but I did sometimes find it hard to develop a claim and develop a well thought out and reasonable argument, but when I did, I was able to support my claim with reliable evidence. I will continue my learning with this skill by becoming better at synthesizing information. I am able to evaluate information from many varied sources, but it is hard to synthesize the information and find connects between such different sources. This is definitely something I want to improve on during the upcoming school year.

The most important skill I’ve gotten from What’s the Story? responsible and involved citizenship. I noticed my growth in this skill when I began to become more aware of the impact I’ve had on the change I wanted to create. I saw this a couple of a months ago just shortly after an interview I had with a survivor of sexual assault. A couple of days after the interview I got a call from the survivor telling me how much doing an interview had helped them. They said that sharing their experience helped them realize that they were a part of something bigger than themselves. At that moment I also realized that I was creating not only a documentary but something that could inspire other survivors as well and school administrators and community members to take action at their own local high schools. I wasn’t just creating change, I was being the change. I grew more confident in myself and the amount of power I had. Throughout the year, I found myself becoming increasingly more passionate about my topic. I realize that it is one I want to pursue even after What’s the Story? Lastly, being in What’s the Story taught me how to have discussions with people who had very different beliefs and points of view than my own. I had to learn how to engage with these people in order to create a documentary we could all be proud of. I felt that I was able to forget my own opinions about certain topics in order to see other people’s points of view. This included learning how to compromise, listen, and respect other people and their ideas – even if they did not match my own. One aspect of this skill that I found difficult and challenging was knowing my own power and not letting myself just fall into the mindset that I could not create change just because of my age. What’s the Story? helped me realize that I could have a positive impact on my community. My learning with this skill will keep growing as I grow more confident in myself and my capabilities. 

I got the life-long skill of clear and effective communication during interviews. In order to make sure I got meaningful interviews, I bought a list of questions that I made by using the skill of self-direction. During these interviews, I had to pro-actively listen and make connections in my head as I listened to what the interviewee had to say. One strategy I used to help me become a more skilled listener was to read the questions I had before the interview so while in the interview I didn’t have to read of the script of questions so that way if an interviewee said something interesting I could ask further questions about what they had said. This listening skill also helped me maintain eye contact and make the interview more personal so the interviewee felt more comfortable and relaxed. I also became much more organized during my time in What’s the Story? This was something that I had lots of problems with at the beginning of the year, but being in a cohort with several other students forced me to become more organized so that I could complete the tasks I needed to do as a part of a group. The pressure of having other people depending on me being organized and focused forced me to work on this aspect of myself and I am so glad I did. My organization has improved not only in my work for What’s the Story? but also for life just in general. However, even though my organization did get better it was a challenge for me at times. I struggled with organizing my writing in clear and coherent way that would help me string my thoughts together without them being “jumbled.” This was an area that needed lots of work because although I can think of ideas for my writing, it is sometimes hard for me to write them out in a way that makes sense and is well-written. I will continue my learning with this skill with becoming better at identifying the many different components of a good story and learning how to use these components to make my own good stories. I can do this by finding more well-written stories and focusing on the different parts of the story. 


It’s several years from now, and I’m attempting to stay up late after chugging a gallon of lukewarm coffee. I’m staring at a blank google doc, trying to ignore the ticking of the clock on the wall behind me, reminding me of the time I am wasting.  I’m trying to think of a thesis for my English final, but nothing comes to mind. I close my eyes and focus. I’ve been writing good essay claims for years now, I think. I learned how to write effective essays in Sophmore after spending a year learning with What’s the Story? I wasn’t worried about coming up with a claim; I knew I could. One thing, however, that I didn’t realize I had learned until two years after the course was while I was writing my college essay. I had learned how to clench my teeth when work got tough. It took me two years to realize how much grit that What’s the Story? had instilled in me. It was something I hadn’t expected to learn going into the program, but throughout the year I used grit for the first time in my life. I had been dedicated before, but I had never learned the work ethic that What’s the Story? had taught me. I used grit when I pulled late nights finishing up final touches on my documentary, I used grit to make sure to leave every Sunday night free for hangouts, and I used grit when I had to choose giving up running at New England’s twice in order to attend the class because I knew what I would learn was irreplaceable. I didn’t think of grit as a skill that I would learn. I also thought it was just a trait that you either had or didn’t. I never expected that just “working hard” wouldn’t be enough in life, but What’s the Story? taught me the importance of grit and dedication.

So thank you for everything you’ve taught me, I know that I will find myself constantly using it throughout my life.











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