WOrking with advisors.
Advisors are there for you in many capacities. They should help you with project ideas, with motivation, with learning skill development, with mentor connection, and to hold your feet to the fire. They are your Learning Coach.
Make your meetings. If you won’t, tell them ahead of time. And say you’re sorry. Write in your journal.
Plan your time. Bring something to talk about, have questions. Be kind to others.
A weekly advisor meeting should run something like this:
- talk about your work, interests, and thought developments
- a look at your blog to be up to date with progress from the previous week
- a review of your plans for the week
- a problem-solving section where you ask questions and your advisor helps you find answers
- some high fiving
The more that your advisor knows about your progress, and especially your struggles, the better they are able to help you work through them. One challenge students face is when they avoid being open with their advisor about problems like procrastination and let them snowball into bigger challenges than they need to be.
Working With Content Area Advisors
You will also have access to content area experts who will have final say over what a project needs to contain in order to earn credit, and who are your ‘teachers of record’ on the transcript. Those people are spread much more thin than your advisors are, though, so use your advisor as a first line and make sure to respect everyone's time.
What the subject teachers can do is compare your proposed project to the skills and knowledge that a student might need to show in a regular classroom to earn credit, and help you find ‘equivalence’ - they are the final deciders about what is and is not worthy.
Meet with content advisors as often as you can, but at minimum, you should see them twice each month.
working with mentors.
A foundation of the Pilot is the idea that learning happens best with a mentor. Ideally, each project will have an adult who is working with you every week, providing expertise, professional feedback, and encouragement from a place
of shared passion. This is the part where you explore your interests out in the real world.
interview ---> shadow day ---> internship or work with a mentor
Once you have identified a possible mentor, it is smart to gradually increase contact rather than diving right into a full commitment. Your first meeting with them is an interview, where you meet each other and see if it’s a good fit. Next you might shadow your mentor and see what it’s like to work with them in their environment. Once you’ve both committed to working together, your internship begins!
In your first official meeting you should discuss:
- meeting times, confirm your availability and make a meeting plan
- your learning plan - they need to approve your study as well
- how much guidance you would like from them, what support works best for you, and what you can give back to them
- long terms goals... how you plan to get there
being safe and smart
Being in the real world is not without risk. It’s important to recognize the situation you are putting yourself in, and take basic safety precautions. This means, for example, not agreeing to work one on one with someone in a closed door environment, maybe setting up meetings in a public space, or having the mentor come to school. In almost every case this isn’t a concern:
but just a reminder: stay smart!
paperwork to be sure
From the school end, we take steps to keep things safe by asking every mentor to agree to a background check at one level or another. You should not work with a mentor until this step is complete. Kim McKeller, our mentor coordinator will help with this process.
making a project at an internship
Demonstrating your work in the Pilot means keeping record of what you are learning. Project work that you create can just be for you and your portfolio. Mentors give an enormous amount of time. Think of ways you can give back to them through the development of your project. When project work is a win-win, everyone seems to have the best time: your work will be higher quality because you are pushed to make it real, and your mentor will do a better job because they need what you are bringing.
Overall, while it is certainly possible to do project work on your own, using library or internet resources, projects that happen with a mentor giving feedback along the way are always better. Mentors can take many forms from weekly meetings to internship to casual email connections. Cast a wide net, you’re building your own learning community.