It’s good to talk (to yourself!)

On Thursday Crew Finch shared a lovely breakfast together whilst using the time to talk about being kinder.  But this session wasn’t about being kinder to others; it was about being kinder to ourselves.

A recent State of the Nation report explored the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, and indicated that 1 in 5 young people aged between 10-24 years are not happy.

Of course, there are lots of contributing factors towards this, but I thought it would be good to sit with Crew and talk more about what it means to be kind to ourselves, and make them realise that the voice inside our head – i.e. our own self perception – often tells us lies.

I asked Crew to consider this: is it OK to talk to other people the way we often talk to ourselves?

They answered with a unanimous ‘No.’

We ended the session by writing down 3 things we loved about ourselves.  We’re going to have these on display for a few days and I’ve asked Crew to add more good things as and when they want to (either more about themselves or about others.)

I also asked Crew to write down a burden – one thing that is making them feel unhappy about themselves at the moment – and these have been passed to me rather than shared, unless they were happy to do so.  I’ve pledged to spend a some time with each member of Crew individually over the next week, just to have a quick discussion about their burden. Hopefully it will lighten the load for them and make them understand that it is indeed good to talk: to ourselves and to others!

Crew Parkinson’s week looked like this:

Monday – weekend check-ins, I love hearing what Crew gets up to during their weekends and they always have plenty of questions to ask each other about their activities

Tuesday – we did our Star reader test. Reading is so important for increasing vocabulary and academic progress, so as part of the accelerated reader programme, students complete a Star reader test multiple times a year to measure their reading age and progress. The next time we have an accelerated reader crew session we agreed we will begin a book recommendation chart to share great books and help crew find others which may be of interest.

Wednesday – students who were helping out at the open evening had a chance to speak to the member of staff they were helping out to organise what they would be doing that night – I’d like to appreciate all members of Crew Parkinson who helped out on either or both of the evenings, we couldn’t have done it without you!

Thursday – this was our activity day so we had a session on team building, students were in groups of 4 and had to build the tallest free-standing tower made of balloons and sellotape. The winning team was Shanna, Dylan, Rosie and Kris thanks to their speedy balloon blowing up skills and great design. Here’s how they did:

Friday – We looked at the praise sheet and poor conduct sheet this session. I’m thrilled to have 10 out of the 12 crew members on the praise sheet, many multiple times and across a variety of sessions. However, we also discussed the entries on the poor conduct form where 6 members of crew unfortunately appeared. We discussed how this made us feel and shared our thoughts on the reasons that these members were on – when we look next week we hope there will be no members of Crew Parkinson added to the poor conduct sheet!

But to end on a positive, here are some of the praise sheet entries for Crew Parkinson:

Callum : “Made a comment in Hums today about the work being hard, but was trying all throughout and made some great contributions! Keep up the hard work!”

Aaron : “Increased contribution in Hums – great to see Aaron putting his hand up more and offering answers, keep it up!”

Kristian : “A series of excellent maths lessons, mega impressed with Kristian’s focus and how he works with those around him – keep it up!”

Ava : “Consistently working hard in class [science], quick to start tasks and giving detailed answers.”

Bob : “Bob showed great resilience when learning an 8 Beat on the drums during Music.”

Lacey : “Lacey has been concentrating really well and working hard in her art lessons.”

 

What a superb student-led Crew session!

This morning Ella kindly led a Crew session by sharing her experiences, skills and knowledge about being a St. John’s Ambulance Cadet. Although she might have received some sideways looks as she arrived in her official full green overalls, the quality of reflection, delivery of her presentation, and the way that she checked Crew Young’s understanding of her voluntary work with this organisation were all exemplary.

In great appreciation to Ella for volunteering to deliver her session, and to Crew Young for being a quality audience, showing respect, and for their intelligent and thoughtful questions about Ella’s work afterwards.

What a lass!

What a lad!

Let me introduce Aden.

Not only is he part of my Crew, I’m also lucky enough to work with him across all his lessons and have done so since Y7.

When Aden first started, it’s fair to say that he was a very different boy to the one he is today.  He won’t mind me telling you that he struggled to manage his frustrations and found it difficult to focus in class.  But Crew supported him (even when he didn’t want us to!)

He often found himself getting into trouble and was sometimes removed from his peers to spend time in reflection.  But we always welcomed him back into Crew.

During Y8, Aden’s little ‘blips’ became fewer and far between, and by the end of the year, he had improved both his academic grades and his HOWL grades.  And Crew celebrated him!

There were a couple of moments today which have made me reflect on Aden’s progress from Y7 to Y9.  Simple things which show how far he’s come and how much he’s grown to love learning.  For instance, he was so absorbed in reading and making notes on Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ he didn’t even notice me taking his picture.  Later on in History, he received a spontaneous round of applause and an entry onto our praise form for the quality of his response when asked to analyse the message behind a source we’re studying.  Moments like this got me thinking about his journey from Y7 to where he is today in Y9, about to embark upon his GSCE studies… and it took my breath away!

Last week, I asked Crew how they felt about Y9 so far.  Aden said that it was more challenging than Y8, but that he would “knuckle down and try my hardest.”

And he absolutely is!

Crew Young begin their DofE gardening skills

Last Friday Crew Young started their bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award skill section with a spot of gardening – or rather seed propagation. The sowing of seeds and harvesting of crops is rather limited by the time of year, although we still aim to grow cress, parsley, basil and oregano. One of these plants, we learned, has strong medicinal uses in some parts of the world….and was even used as a cure for snake bites!

Crew Turing’s 2019 Challenge

This year started on such a positive for Crew Turing after ending the year on a high. We are seeking to further our self improvement this coming year as my crew recognise they are no longer the youngest in the school and will be stepping up to the plate as role models for E26.

One student who had fantastic news to share with crew who I’d really like to spotlight in this post is our very own Lexi, who has made impressive amounts of progress in her gymnastics training since starting at XP East a year ago. She has continuously moved up into more advanced classes and is competing regularly. Check out her skills:

I love it when members of crew bring in items to crew for us to celebrate! Another member of crew whose achievements we’ve loved hearing about is Torran, who is currently top of his football league and who has scored in the past few games.

One item we really reflected on rebooting was reading now we’re all back from summer. It was heartening to hear that so many of my crew had enjoyed books over the holidays – Jessie deserves a special mention for reading 8+ during the break! We know there is a correlation between grades and reading, but more importantly, it’s so important to invest time in reading for your wellbeing.

 

My crew stated that they want to up the stakes for the reading challenge this year. I hoped all 13 of us would read 100 books be December 2019 – I personally have read 16 so far! They suggested various ideas for prizes or competitions for those who were reading. I have taken their ideas into account and have ordered these badges. Anyone in my crew, or beyond for that matter, who reads 8 books between now and Christmas break will earn themselves a Lifetime Book Lovers Club Member enamel pin. I will also take the book length into consideration, but I’d love to hand a few of these out come December time.

To track our progress some members of my crew have created goodreads accounts, where they can review books they have read, track their reading progress, and set themselves targets. This website is also fantastic for book recommendations, lots of students were able to find curated lists of books they’d like based on genres they enjoyed.

I’ve ordered 5 badges for now, let’s see how many I’ll be handing out!

Riding the Y9 rollercoaster!

Here’s quick check-in to review what’s been happening with Crew Finch!

Well, at the moment it’s all about preparing for Passage Presentation, where students have to present their reflections on their XPE experience so far, how they’re developed as a learner, and why they think they are ready to embark on their GCSE studies.  This is such a pivotal moment in their school life, and we’ve been having some really interesting conversations and reflections based on not only where they want to go, but also on how far they’ve come since Year 7.  A letter invitation will be being sent out to parents/carers/community members soon.  Having sat in a few last year, I would recommend bringing tissues!

However, there have been opportunities to break off from our intense Passage presentation with a bit of a ‘friendly’ basketball competition with Crew Mandela. I’m pleased to say that we held on to our title as Basketball champs 🙂

The highlight of the year so far for me though has been our fieldwork to Alton Towers, where students got to consolidate their learning on forces and speed,  as well as having a go at designing their own rollercoaster… We also spent time as a Crew going on some of the rides: Smiler, Nemesis, Gravity and Oblivion to name a few!  I was happy to take on the role of Chief Bag and Coat Holder so didn’t get to go on any of the rides (nothing to do with me being scared stiff, honest!) but I absolutely loved seeing the pure joy (and terror!) on the faces of my Crew before and after each ride.

As I said in my last blog post, students are working so hard at the moment across Crew and all their lessons, and we’re enjoying riding the rollercoaster of Y9 (and Passage!) together.  Some of the twists and turns are scarier than others, but we’ll always get off with a big smile on our faces.  Scream if you want to go faster 🙂

Crew Mandela Passage Presentation

Crew Mandela are continuing their journey towards starting GCSE choice. All students have begun their reflections from year 7 to year 8. It is hard to believe how much some of our crew has changed in such a short space of time, as shown in the video below!

 

The purpose of the passage presentation is to reflect on ‘what makes me ready to start GCSE’ We did this by following the below three case studies.

Case Study 1 : ‘Where I can be?’

Case Study 2: ‘How to get there ’

Case Study 3: ‘What makes me ready?’

Crew Young’s fieldwork visit to Alton Towers

Crew Young recently joined the other E24/Y9 Crews on a fieldwork visit to Alton Towers, where they learned how forces and energy transfers apply on all of the iconic theme park rides. Following expert tuition in the physics of movement and motion taught in the on-site classroom, they then put the theory into practice on rides such as Oblivion and Smiler.