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Reflections on Convening an ALF Training

Facilitating this fast, intensive, and immersive event has brought surprises both in the form of challenges and blessings.

Our interpersonal bonding and connection happened quickly and pretty effortlessly. The “If you really knew me…” exercise helped us move into a space deep authenticity and vulnerability. The people who missed our first morning seemed less able to be vulnerable with the group for the whole first week.

One challenge we faced was avoiding getting pulled into abstract tangents where people want to solve theoretical problems for imaginary children in some Utopian educational setting. We may have lost about 20% of our group work time to these sidetracks, and I intend to be much more diligent about interrupting those discussions more quickly. Luckily, things moved quickly into actual practice with the kids at the camp, and the abstractions have largely been replaced with actual relationships with children.

Agile Roots metaphor seemed to work well (even if initially only partially formulated in words), but we never finished the depiction of a whole Agile Tree for sharing about the model as currently implemented.  My attempt to use “21st Century Education” to convey some of the key things that differentiate us from conventional education models fell flat and sucked us into abstract-land way too quickly.  I will need to find a better framing for that in the future, or wait until we’re better grounded in practice.

Bear’s sharing of the soul archetypes has proven valuable in acknowledging the value and power of different personalities such that  some people have been able express themselves much more freely and feel appreciated for the nature of their contribution. I’m actually seeing the need to put in more information about pacing, defensive styles, order of processing, and maybe even decision-making styles for folks who are struggling with some of their differences in these domains.

One of the biggest challenges I struggle with (as is common) is the gap between what I see possible for us and where we are in fulfilling on it. There are places I want to go, and a speed at which I’d like to get there, that we just can’t do yet. Overall, things are really going perfectly. We need this level of direct experience to translate from theory to action and for everyone to integrate principles into their practice.

I’m really excited about the impact that I can see this is having on the Mosaic community. With 20 adults ALFing and practicing what we’re preaching for the kids, the pattern is getting set much more powerfully for the kids, for Mosaic’s current/future staff and even for the parents who are catching bits and pieces.

One of my personal goals was to see if we could get to operating as a “magical group” much more quickly than I’ve been able to do in the past. I think we’re doing pretty dang well, even though our rockiest meeting so far just happened yesterday. We recovered quickly, adapted our structures, healed the hurting people… basically responded quite agilely.

Now we face the reality of “certification” and what the heck that means and how to know who has crossed the mysterious threshold to being a certifiable ALF.  I’m confident we’ll conquer this challenge with more grace and grit in the coming week.