TAP: Keeping it simple to make it happen.
Because of unexpected, lengthy absence, the time for project management for TAP was drastically curtailed. I had to get my 7th graders ready to take action with only a couple of days of ‘training’ time, instead of the scheduled week-plus. But there was some gold in the rush…
1. I took the time to read every single project proposal. If I could understand what they wanted to do and why, plus parent signature, I let it through. I figure that I want to give them some opportunity to learn from mistakes, and don’t want to suck the joy and learning out by trying to trouble shoot it for them.
2. We did the practice flow chart for the lemonade stand, to cue them to some common road blocks experienced by last year’s students ex. forgetting to get prior permission to set up a stall in front of Safeway, at the Farmer’s Market etc.
3. They did their own flow charts. I did NOT check through every detail, instead I congratulated every one that clearly took some forethought. That was the real point of the exercise at this level. Gant charts v. handy for making nuclear submarines, but not for a bake sale :-).
4. Had them make their own ‘To Do’ list and shopping list in class, even without their partners.
5. Used my own planner to show how I am planning backwards from the due date. Had them put in the poster deadline and the suggested deadline for finishing action and starting on the poster. Put in a ‘weeks to go’ reminder every friday. Brainstormed some other deadlines they might have ex. ‘call Safeway to get permission’, ‘shop for bake sale ingredients’ etc. Then let them go to it with their own sub-task deadlines.
6. Circulated on the trusty rolling chair, asked about what they were doing and was enthusiastic. Sometimes asked a question to be sure they were thinking of an important task I knew they would have to tackle ex. scheduling exactly when their families could get them to the beach to do a clean-up. Scheduling is big in our community. We are all busy, busy.
7. And, big breath, let them go. Go to their spring break at least armed with a sense of purpose, an idea of where to start and enthusiasm.
It’s a huge learning for me too. To let them go, like throwing birds into the air. To not be bowed by a nagging sense of not having done my duty, not having controlled every step. The only thing that saves me from feeling really incompetent is the idea that I have to be willing to be wrong. Maybe they will need more support when we get back. So I’ll offer lunchtime mentoring and will check in with each of them every week at least. But for this year, I’m going to be okay with doing the best I could with what time I had.