It is much easier, really, to check off a list of subjects and make sure the content bases are covered than to think about the ultimate goals and attempt to use those subjects as tools toward growing maturity, responsibility, integrity, interest, attention, and other habits of the good life.
After Willa’s review of Agile Time Management, my interest was piqued not simply because it was a time management book (and that is a hobby subject of mine), but also because my husband’s new job uses Agile principles and he has been thriving with them. I had the library purchase the book for me, and although I didn’t really glean much new material for personal time management, a lightbulb went off and I realized that my role as a homeschooling mother is more of project and people management than direct instructor, so I should look at the management principles and use them to help my children thrive in their own self-directed work.
We’re going to try it. First I’ll lay out the planned agenda or format for these meetings, and then I’ll develop what goals I think this will help us reach.
Weekly One-on-One Meeting Format
We will actually be meeting twice a week: once on Monday to set goals for the week and once Friday to check in on those goals. We’ll meet together with a cup of tea or coffee to make it special and more serious. I want the atmosphere of the thing to communicate that I am treating them as adults-in-training, learning to be responsible for themselves.
- Greeting & prayer. We’ll settle down together at the kitchen table and open our time together in prayer, because that’s how we should always begin an undertaking in life. (~2 minutes)
- Motivating metaphor. I have the floor first with a prepared metaphor. I think one cause of frustration in my oldest in particular is not understanding that growth comes by attempting hard things. So we’ll start off the week by reminding first myself (I intend to set aside a Monday morning teacher prep time), then each child successively, that we’re after growth and wisdom, which comes after trying and failing and then trying again rather than giving up. This will likely work itself out into a regular blog feature, since writing is how I process ideas. (~5 minutes)
- Questions & concerns. Then the student will have the floor to bring up any concerns, comments, or questions he has. We’ll talk about what he has on his mind. (~10-15 minutes)
- Goals & plans. Next, we’ll go over the plans for the week, phrasing it as the student’s own plan for the week, and not mine I’m imposing upon him. I will ask him questions such as “What do you have to do to be ready for writing (or speech or piano) lessons? What do you want to learn more about this week? What book(s) do you plan on reading this week? What do you need to practice to improve in (something) this week?” As the student states his goals, we’ll talk about how to make them happen and I’ll write them down (that is, type them up). (~5-10 minutes)
- Narrate & print. After making the plan, we’ll go over it together to confirm it all. I’ll have him add a sentence or phrase to it based on the metaphor. Then I’ll send it to the printer so he can have a hard copy to work from during the week. (~2 minutes)
What’s the point in making plans and goals if we don’t follow up with them and hold ourselves accountable to them? Friday we’ll have another one-on-one and follow this protocol:
- Greeting & prayer. Again, because all things should be begun prayerfully; the focus on Friday will be gratitude for the week and the work. (~2 minutes)
- Go over the list. The student reports with his hard copy while I fill in our digital copy as we go over how the week’s follow-through went. It might be possible for weekend work to be assigned if a slack hand (or mind) is diagnosed. The student also reports what books he read and we will update his goodreads account. (~10-15 minutes)
- Conversation. Here the student again gets a chance to ask any questions, raise any concerns, or tell me any story from the week. If he doesn’t have anything, I’ll ask him to think about and tell me about a time he wanted to give up (or cry or yell or any other poor response) but kept going. I want them to grow accustomed to telling the story line of difficulty, perseverance, triumph. It begins with small things, and we will rejoice in the small victories.
- End with prayer. To give the meeting and the week a sense of closure, we’ll end with a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing.
The Ends Reached By Meetings
- All learning is an act of the student and not the teacher, so these meetings help make it clear that it is the student’s act and responsibility to learn and to grow.
- It helps the child own his work and progress and time.
- It deepens the parent-child/teacher-student relationship, fostering a mentoring relationship rather than a dictatorial one.
- It gives us the opportunity to be intentional about our interpretation, our internal story-telling, through the metaphor and the reporting and the coaching.
- It helps us keep focus.
- It builds self-management and time-management skills early and intentionally.
None of these are content goals or anything that would directly help on a test, but they are all things that will impact the children’s lives more than their SAT scores or even their college degree will.
And, that list was written in present tense, though at this point it is all future. This is the vision, the plan; I will let you know how reality pans out.