Acton Academy Omaha

Friendship + Feedback

“YESSS!” echoed numerous heroes around our circle, looking to their friends and nodding in agreement. Elementary and Spark alike, they couldn’t wait to get started.

Their excitement took me by surprise. We hadn’t just introduced a new, exciting challenge, nor had they been awarded a prize like extra free time.

No, it had come to the end of our second session, and we had just shared it was time again for our 360 (Full Circle) Feedback Reviews.

Imagine this: you open your paper, and inside you see comments from three mystery studio friends who have each shared feedback about how well you are fulfilling your promises in the studio; feedback that shares what they appreciate about you, combined with feedback about what they see you could grow in. How would you feel?I had no idea just how much they loved this experience. And yet, it shows. They left our morning circle and got right to work, thoughtfully preparing feedback for their studiomates – and trying to keep who they had a secret!

Although the Elementary heroes can write their responses on their own, many Spark heroes are just beginning to get more comfortable with writing down their thoughts. So often, their thoughts are more lengthy and complicated than what their current writing abilities allow. So for projects like this, a guide might meet with them one by one, and jot down their thoughts as they speak.

Their feedback has blown us away. It’s simple, clear and more powerful than any feedback we as guides could give. It cuts to the heart of the matter, and has changed lives – more than once.

At the end of our first session, one Spark hero received feedback from a number of his friends which had expressed, “I feel sad when you don’t do many works in Core Skills. I would like it if you do more works instead.” Although it was hard for him to hear, he never defended himself or dodged the feedback. Instead, he owned his mistakes and changed his approach! He’s been working hard during Core Skills time ever since and has really found his voice as a leader in our studio – even among older heroes. As our second session drew to a close and we carved out space for another round of 360 Feedback Reviews, I wondered what feedback he might receive this time.

As one of his 7-year old friends spoke quietly into my ear, she glanced his way with a sparkle in her eyes. I jotted down her words as she spoke – “I appreciate it that you are my friend and take me to the park after school!” she whispered with excitement.
“And what would you like to see him grow in?” I asked.

“Hmm…” she said as she thought earnestly. “I feel sad when he doesn’t share his thoughts in circle much. I wish he would share his thoughts in circle so I can learn from him more.” As I wrote it down for her, I was blown away by her depth of thinking and the value she saw in our launch discussions – coming from her ability to learn from her friends’ thoughts.

As she walked away I couldn’t help but smile. Here are two young friends who are giving each other beautiful, honest, caring feedback. Feedback that is helping each other actually grow. No hurt feelings, no hiding, no pretending, no defending.

Real friendship and real feedback, leading to real growth. Even at just 7 years old.

No wonder they love it so much!

Above (right): One of our special local entrepreneur speakers issued us a challenge over Zoom one day to each share one dream as well as one thing that makes you special! Most heroes joined in the fun and we made a little collection!

Above: A few Elementary heroes stepped up to initiate the beginning of a “Math Class” as well as as a “Soccer Club”! So much excitement and participation!