Laura Sandefer

February 16, 2018

In this 1-minute video, several Eagles share what they wish their parents knew about the 360 Surveys (also called Full Circle Feedback.)

The Eagles explain their Acton lives better than I can; however, I feel compelled to share my story on this topic in hopes it will help another parent who has a child come home in tears with a bad survey score. Here is my condensed version:

Today was the day the results of the 360 surveys would be shared. It’s all my son could think about over the weekend. He was hoping for a good score so he could move up a freedom level. We arrived at school and he got out of the car grim-faced.

Not to worry, I thought. He’d had a great session. He achieved badges, got excited about writing, had fun with friends and engaged in no social drama.

But 3:15pm came and he bolted into the car with eyes filled to the brim. The strain of holding in his frustration all day finally broke. He tearfully vented all the way home about how unfair the surveys were. He went straight to his room and closed the door.

My mama-bear ego rose up and sent me into a mental tizzy. Isn’t there an easier way to learn how about oneself? This young boy doesn’t know what to do with negative feedback from friends! What if he doesn’t recover and won’t want to go back to school? I just want him to be happy. Why are we doing these heart-wrenching surveys?

About an hour later, he came out of his room: “Mom, it’s okay. The feedback I got is actually accurate. I just didn’t want to admit it. I have been too tough-minded. I haven’t been nice to very many people. I haven’t helped my squad with their work. I know I can do better and I want to. I am going to work on being more warm-hearted.” He ran outside and played hard until dinner.

My reflections? Children are better at this than we are. I took this survey too personally and became defensive. I didn’t pause to look for the powerful learning it presented. He, on the other hand, did and will be better for it.

What a difference from my own school experience which taught me to run fast and hard away from criticism. My strategy was to please people and find the right answers – always – so I would never have to see red pen marks or hear how I could improve. This did not serve me well in relationships or life in general. Only recently have I grown to crave feedback.

Seeking and listening to feedback may be the most important trait in becoming a teachable person. This is why our children are practicing these skills at Acton. They are on a path of continual improvement and lifelong learning. Defensiveness will fall by the wayside for them because it simply holds them back. And heroes choose to move forward.

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Middle School is where young people rapidly start owning their education. Middle school is the perfect time to develop intellect and character while gaining a deeper sense of self and the real world. Students have a broad palette of topics to study and pair in-depth academic exploration with real-world connections to experts and local apprenticeships. Middle School is about deepening a passion for individual subjects while broadening your understanding of yourself and your future.