This Week: June Feels, More Field Trips, a Carving, and Where the Wild Things Are

For the last two weeks my countdowns have felt anticipatory, excited, tired, what-else-can-we-squeeze-in-before-we’re-done frantic; today I feel bittersweet and tender. There’s a week left of school but the goodbyes have already started – Beth’s last day was today – and yesterday at the Assembly meeting the parents held a gratitudes circle just for the ALFs and we all cried at the beautiful things they said to and about us. We’re here at the end; I feel relieved because I am tired, I feel satisfied because I see the growing we’ve done much clearer than I could previously, I feel sad because a cycle is ending and mourning is valid.

I was talking to Abby last night after the Assembly about cycles and time, and we’re in agreement that three years of facilitating feels significant. We’re approaching the end of my second year of ALFing – three-years-ago-me didn’t even know that this could be my life yet. Three-years-ago-Mel was working at a corporate job that I hated and couldn’t yet imagine my way out. Two-years-ago Mel knew they were leaving the safety of the path laid out by schooling and normie-culture expectations but didn’t yet know what that would entail. Last-year Mel thought they knew a lot and, though they’d grown a bunch in this work, they weren’t yet ready to sit comfortably in uncertainty. I don’t know yet that I’m comfortable with uncertainty, but I feel comfortable recognizing there are so many things that I don’t yet know – about how to be a good facilitator, a healthy human, a fulfilled person, about how all those things are connected – I feel wiser in my unknowing than I ever felt in my (many) years of chasing certainty. I’m not wise, but I am willing to play.


Alright, that’s enough navel gazing. Here’s to the week:

Monday we played Blind Horse Tag in Acro (a kid sits on an adults’ shoulders and covers the adults’ eyes with their hands/steers their “horse” around in a game of tag) which is both stressful and very fun – it makes me feel strong. We were trying to do a straddle-bat lift, but Ash and I kept talking about our meat and bones and laughing and falling over. After, he and I made a Sim of me, which was just as fun as I remember it being 15 years ago. Siena and I read Where the Wild Things Are – she’d never read it before, which meant I got to share in the joy of her first reading of it. Even and I did Philosophy – we talked morality, psychology, concrete examples, Leia and the trolley problem. Chuck and Timo started building a bow; Ry took Joy Burger and Central Park trips; Katherine made a great save in kickball. We all hung out with sleepy Chova the dog.

On Tuesday Sterl had a bit of a meltdown about Seb taking apart his lego creations and I mediated. It’s not the first conflict on this topic between these humans – in fact, we have a “no hoarding shared resources” agreement because Seb got sick of Sterl telling him that he was using all the pieces and came to Change-Up to do something about it a couple of months ago. What was interesting about Tuesday was how I felt different in my mediation than I had previously; how I could feel myself holding it lightly. We wound up talking about how entropy is the state of the universe, how stasis is impossible because everything is changing all the time. Even if you stay perfectly still, your muscles will atrophy. Are you moving towards growth or are you hoping for stasis? I’m not the only one who’s been growing – Seb, who came here two years ago, has developed a level of patience in mediation that his two-years-ago self didn’t know he was capable of. I’m really proud of him and, while I’m sad to say goodbye, I’m so excited for him to continue to grow his skills and talents at Special Music School next year, where he’ll be a vocal major for high school.

Wednesday we had visitors – Megan and Liz, who are hoping to start an ALC in the Philly suburbs, and their kids – and it was quiet enough in the space that Abby and I could spend two hours in the afternoon answering their questions. I was feeling kind of weird when I got home that evening, so I wrote a list of good things that I did in my day notes: “Reading Far from the Tree in the lobby w/ Chova the dog curled up on me & seeing Siena discover asparagus & laughing w/ Nahla about the first three questions everyone asks & getting surprised with biodegradable glitter gifted by Abby & a full gratitudes meeting & a smooth cleanup & Jiji and Roan playing tag in the hall…”

Yesterday was a two field trip day – Abby took Xander and Jiana to the Rockaways, and Chuck & I went mini-golfing on Pier 25 with Erez, Demian, Hannah, Beth, & Siena. Mini-golf was very fun, but I forgot my water bottle and so wanted to go back to school right after we were done. Demian opted to come with me, and we spent the subway ride talking about Harry Potter spoilers, King Arthur’s sword, metaphors, the Elder Wand, and swapping book recommendations.

After school was the final potluck and Assembly meeting of the year. Like I said, the parents surprised us by holding a gratitudes circle for everyone to tell us ALFs how grateful they were for us and I got ALL the feels. Honestly, I still can’t believe I have the incredible privilege to wake up every morning and come to work here; I cannot describe my gratitude.

Today was quiet – we had our final check-in and change up of the year. I finished carving my rose block and test-printed it; I’m very pleased with how it turned out. We had a culture committee on trolling, which felt really efficient (and we decided the consequence of not being able to troll responsibly is getting removed from the troll whitelist and not being able to troll at all for the rest of the year, which feels so fair to me…). Beth and I chatted for a while about the growing she’s done this year and decided we’d be pen pals again this summer. The next thing I knew it was cleanup and blog time and here we are…


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Mel Compo is an interdisciplinary artist, playworker, and facilitator at the New York City Agile Learning Center. Their work with children centers play, art-making, city adventuring, and open conversation about language, bodies, gender, networks, emotional intelligence, brain plasticity, and cycles of growth. Mel studied the intersections of SDE, poetry, and the history of American education NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. They live in Brooklyn, New York.

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