What now hundreds of other learning guides are doing is playing this coaching role, right? Like "you're frustrated, but I know you can do this. What if we read this? What if you click this button that says hint and we read it and see , what that means?" And so being there with love, but also persistent support, helping them build those attributes themselves and that fortunately in a relatively short amount of time, because every child is right at their learning frontier, we're able to see great progress towards academic standard mastery, the mastery and competence of academic standards, where each child, working at their own pace. - Kelly Smith
Our guest today is Kelly Smith. He is the founder and CEO of Prenda , a network of microschools that is spreading like wildfire across state lines, bringing project-based learning and mastery-based education to a neighborhood near you.
In this episode, we catch up on the last 2 years since our first podcast interview in August 2019. We talk about how Prenda uses a unique learning model with a mix of blended learning, PBL and inquiry-based learning to increase confidence and curiosity. We see how they enhance grit and perseverance, helping learners to stick with their problems longer, as Albert Einstein would say.
Some interesting highlights from our discussion:
The focus is on helping the child choose to be a learner. Nurturing their curiosity, setting goals, not quitting despite the tears, as per Albert Einstein, staying with their problems longer.
02:42 - It's just inspiring to see kids who are making the choice to be a learner and there's this kind of light about it. There's this fire that you can see in their eyes. There's this swagger in their step. They just have this confidence. And I think the confidence comes from not getting everything right the first time, it's a fragile confidence, right? This is the confidence you know, if you meet a good engineer or a software developer, they will say " I'm gonna do this." They're fully confident they'll do it and they know that they're going to get it wrong hundreds of times along the way.
The learning model takes all the progressive learning research and packs into a simple, 3-part daily schedule. We compared it to how the Homebrew Computer Club tinkerers ended up with the Apple II - decades of trial and error packaged into a simple, beautiful box.
03:44 - It's a class of 10 fifth grade girls and they each one had prepared a science lesson that they taught the rest of the class, including kind of hands-on activities, exploding stuff, chemical reactions. My daughter did one about electricity and magnetism and there were some physics and it was just great. But as you can imagine, as part of that, not every experiment went the way that they wanted. There were tears, there were times where it was hard. And this quote from Albert Einstein kept coming to my mind when he said "I'm not smarter than other people. I just stick with problems longer."
The learning guide does not teach or instruct. The role is flipped. They coach. With the simple, beautiful learning mode, kids are always on their learning frontier. They progress FAST, wizzing through grade levels.
07:24 - What now hundreds of other learning guides are doing is playing this coaching role, right? Like "you're frustrated, but I know you can do this. What if we read this? What if you click this button that says hint and we read it and see , what that means?" And so being there with love, but also persistent support, helping them build those attributes themselves and that fortunately in a relatively short amount of time, because every child is right at their learning frontier, we're able to see great progress towards academic standard mastery, the mastery and competence of academic standards, where each child, working at their own pace.
Prenda is a growing, remote team, and is gradually making it's way from the South West to any state that welcomes them. Working with public and charter schools, the microschools are free.
31:45 - You'll hear some version of this story over and over again. My kids just hated school. They were shut down. They felt debilitating anxiety. They were being bullied. There was some problem, they maybe wanted to move at their own pace or, move ahead, or they want to do to be more creative and they just felt stifled. For any number of reasons it wasn't working and so we would sit in the car outside of the school and the kid would just cry, you know, "I don't want to go in"". And then, we put them in a micro school , they're a totally different person. I mean I still get random letters in the mail, emails, I'll get people just stopping me on the street, like like thank you so much because this has made a difference for my kid.
Here are some resources mentioned in our discussion:
- Previous episode: https://blog.enrollhand.com/launching-80-schools-in-8-months-with-kelly-smith/
- Quote: "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." - Albert Einstein
- Prenda Town Hall Intro video - https://youtu.be/cHrOWvEKSvQ?t=46
- Dan Meyer's Three-Act Math Tasks - https://blog.mrmeyer.com/category/3acts/
- Homebrew Computer Club - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homebrew_Computer_Club
- I, Woz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C2UUB9Q
Where to learn more about Prenda:
- Twitter - https://twitter.com/prendalearn
- Website - https://www.prenda.com
- YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn6GcJFx_Yh1CpKzUUuzzQg
- LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellysmith35/
Where to learn more about Enrollhand:
Our webinar: https://webinar-replay.enrollhand.com