I´ve been nervous about starting up Explora. Quite nervous.
What if the kids don´t respond to the agile tools? What if they simply don´t know how to take initiatives? And what if my facilitators don´t get it? Or what if I don´t manage to be agile enough, turning all rigid and controlling? And imagine if there are no kids?
Then I´ve taken a big breath and focused on remembering that I´ve done my very best on all levels and that now it´s time to let go, let the snowball roll and trust that everything is in perfect order.
One week after having opened, I have nine kids and more are coming. The kids are having so much fun and they´re becoming the best ambassadors for Explora.
The agile tools are working really well! I´m a beginner, obviously, but I´m not a beginner working with kids and using my personality and autenthicity is showing results. The point is coming across to the other facilitators: be your unique and authentic self and let the children be that too. The consequence is an atmosphere where the kids feel at ease and are showing a lot of trust. I think it´s a great beginning of creating culture consciously.
Some kids are just roaming around freely (like my son, who´s one and only intention throughout the week has been: “play without a plan” – and then he ends up doing plenty of other things as well). Others are already implementing projects, like creating a cornfield or redesign clothes. One thing is for sure: they´re having the time of their lives every day!
The children are still in an adaptation process that I´m guessing will last at least a semester. What we do is so radically different, and just to have them use our first names instead of “maestra/maestro” has been revolutionary.
My facilitators and I are observing that this much freedom can be both overwhelming and a little bit confusing to them – simply because they´re still not used to it. So many possibilities of creating, but where to begin and how to ground it? This is where I feel our biggest task so far lies: to help the kids ground their ideas and actually make them happen – always remembering to offer the maximun support but interfering as little as possible.
The facilitators feel positively challenged by this different way of doing things. I quoted Maria Montessori to them a couple of days ago: “Every unnecessary help is an obstacle to a child´s development”, and it really made them reflect on how and when to intervene.
However, the main achievement so far is: we´re all having a tremendously fun time! The kids are enjoying themselvs soooo much, and the facilitators love coming in to “work”. Personally, I have never ever had this much fun before because I´m allowed to be my playful self all the time which creates a huge sense of freedom. I´m guessing the kids and the other adults are feeling the same thing, even though they might not express it the same way.
Of everything I´ve created so far in my life, Explora is the top of the tops and I´m so proud 😀 The agile format, the fact that it´s an after-school program (and thus accessible to so many more children) – the culture creating aspect of it – it just all rocks!
Satisfaction and happiness: what a way to start a project!