Sharing our stories as we go is an important part of what we do at XP as having a wider audience helps us to be accountable to our students, parents, community and to each other. It’s also one of a number of different reasons that help to explain why we have Presentations of Learning, Student Led Conferences, ‘Passage’ in Y9 and so on. Therefore, the story of Crew during Lockdown has to be told.
As parents will be aware, Crew acts as the cornerstone of our work at XP. Each student belongs to a Crew of no more than 12 or 13 students, and an adult acts as their Crew Leader. Unlike other schools, every school day begins with a 45 minute Crew session. Within our online provision preparations for Lockdown 3, the first point was ‘whatever happens, Crew continues…’ and yesterday during my walk around the in-school provision highlighted just how special Crew is.
As I stood in the middle of the Y7 and Y8 double classroom I saw about 20 students, all with their earphones in, sat with their iPads or devices – all engaged in their Crew session (remotely via Google Hangout). I saw students laughing, Crew Leaders laughing, students checking in on their reflections from the previous day’s work, and students sharing their own stories on what they were finding difficult during the first week of Lockdown. Unbelievably, I was literally in the middle of 20 crew sessions and it was amazing!
When I explain the concept of Crew to other teachers, it’s clear that they don’t quite get it, and that’s understandable because you have to see it, hear it and feel it. I’ve experienced Crew sessions where a student’s apology to their Crew for their poor behaviour as been so sincere that it left some students and Crew Leader in tears. I’ve seen other Crew sessions where students have articulated the daily challenges that they face as a result of being autistic, struggling with dyslexia or the difficulties associated with a family bereavement. Yes, Crew is a place to reflect on academic performance and learn about connecting with the world via our Crew curriculum, but more importantly Crew is a place where we reflect on who we are, who we want to be and where we want to go.
Yesterday, I overheard one lad talking about his Mum. He explained that she was working in Doncaster Royal Infirmary hospital, and how he was a bit worried about her. The student went on to talk about how proud he was of her work, about the hours she puts in, and how she was going to get the vaccine. I saw another Crew giving a student a round of applause because his HOWLs had recently improved in nearly every category as seen within the recent performance snapshot.
Sharing students’ own stories as they go might seem insignificant to some… but having a safe and personal space to talk about their situations, achievements, worries, challenges, successes, ambitions and goals means that all of our students have that reassurance that Crew is always there for them – even during Lockdowns, and even during pandemics.