Recently, the entire Adventure studio decided that they needed to hold a meeting with no guides allowed. They determined that they would meet just outside the studio, in a circle, with all studio members in attendance. The purpose of this meeting was to give honest feedback to one another and clear the air. They had been spending a lot of time around one another lately, and interpersonal conflicts were slowly becoming more commonplace in the studio. The elementary students felt it was necessary to have a meeting so that their feelings wouldn’t remain bottled up and taint their relationships with one another. Quite mature! Equally impressive, they each felt the need to hear their studiomates’ feedback on their own performance so that they could grow.
I offered a written feedback form to help smooth out their interactions, but they rejected my suggestion (and the use of digital forms as well) in favor of pure, face-to-face communication. So, I reminded them to keep their feedback kind and supportive of one another, then put my trust in the learners and watched as they left the studio.
It was truly a watershed moment for our studio. The learners could have been intensely critical of one another, letting their pent-up emotions get the better of them. They could have been overly sensitive to the feedback they received and broken down. Or they could have simply talked over one another and led an unproductive conversation.
But none of these things happened.
As I listened from the studio, what I heard was a level of openness and compassion that would put most adult relationships to shame.
They divided the meeting into two parts: one-on-one feedback and studio improvements. Both were timed and regulated (by the students, in case that wasn’t clear.) During one-on-one feedback, they took turns offering feedback to others on the ways they could improve. Among the feedback offered were the following statements:
- We would like you to be a bigger part of our group projects
- We would like you to be more concise during discussions
- We would like you to be kinder to us
- We would like you to be more focused during study periods
The feedback wasn’t offered in a manner that made their classmates feel attacked, but was instead delivered in a warm, “let us help you grow” manner. I was impressed to say the least. All of the feedback was given and received gracefully. And if it started to get contentious, one of the students always stepped up and reminded the group of their mission: be kind, be supportive.
After the feedback portion of the meeting concluded, they turned their sights to studio improvement. The processes they wanted to implement and improve were documented during the meeting. They read like this:
- 15 minutes of daily mindfulness in the form of yoga or meditation
- Tidy up the studio at the end of each period (thus cutting down the need for a large period of studio maintenance at the end of the day)
- Keep the shoe rack orderly
- Develop a buddy system that will help students find assistance with their core work. (The system was fully realized before the end of the day, and each day since, the study buddies have been supporting each other during core periods.)
- Work on making all feedback kind and supportive
When all was said and done, the Adventure studio became closer than ever before. They showed compassion for one another and acted on their desire to grow and improve as individuals. Their meeting is a perfect reminder of what young heroes are capable of if we give them the tools, support, and space to find success on their own terms.
Adventure (Elementary) Studio Guide
Tej Acton Academy