E24 Community Meeting- Week 6

 

We are entering into the 7th week of online learning at XPE- with seemingly, no end in sight, and so our community meeting was focused around strategies to beat the screen fatigue, and a challenge to to get us all out of the house this weekend!

We started off with a brilliant check in of superhero names, based on dates of birth- some absolute, moving then onto apologies, appreciation and stands. Some fantastic work going on- as shown by the appreciation from staff and students within crew Churchill, for the work around student led crew sessions.

See all E24 apologies, appreciations and Stands made below on the Padlet

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Community meeting Photography Challenge

To encourage us as staff and students to get time away from the screen, a challenge was set for students to over the weekend take photos whilst out on walks out of the house, to be entered in the following categories, entries must be original, and be taken over the weekend whilst out of the house- see some of the entries posted on the challenge by students in E24-
Voting for category winners will take place in week 7 community meeting.

The categories…

1) Architecture

2) Near and Far

3) Nature

4) Food

5) Frozen

6) Technology

 

E24 Original photos, submitted by Alfie C, Chloe T, Summer, Keisha 

Crew Finch: my Valentines message to you!

Dear Crew Finch,

After almost a year of bubbles, online learning, lockdowns, tiers – and tears! – I just wanted to send you this Valentine’s Day message to tell you how much I admire you all.

I admire your resilience.

I admire your courage.

I admire your motivation.

I admire your positivity.

I admire your humour (or at least humouring me!)

I admire your hard work.

I admire your compassion.

I admire that you are still working hard to become the best versions of yourselves.

I admire you for checking in every morning in Crew.

I admire that even through the toughest of times (or should that be especially through the toughest of times?) we are, first and foremost, Crew.

So, this Valentine’s Day I want you to take some time to send some love to the most important person in your life: YOU.

Love yourself. Appreciate yourself. Do something that makes you feel good. 

(You definitely deserve chocolates and flowers, too.)

Because, as me and my mate RuPaul always like to remind you:

 

 

 

 

 

Every day at (online) school matters

This week has seen the start of Crew Finch’s Y10 Student-Led Conferences.  A massive well done to this week’s presenters – Ali, Noah, Mackenzie, Tom and Bryn – for the hard work and integrity evident in all their presentations, which went ahead online with only a few technical glitches!  I am one very proud Crew Leader this week (even more so than usual!)

I’m looking forward to more of the same next week.  I did email all Crew parents last week with the link to the booking form so if you haven’t already booked, please can I politely remind you to do so before next Thursday (11th Feb) – just email me if you’ve lost the link.

The first SLCs of Y10 are also the first time since the Y9 Passage Presentations that students have had chance to reflect on their academic progress and character growth, as well as presenting examples of their beautiful work. This process has been made easier by the information analysis sheets provided by Mr Allen (thank you, Sir!) They have really made our discussions and reflections much more meaningful, and have helped Crew to come up with some really pertinent pledges and targets.

(ICYMI: I spoke about how we’re using the information analysis and crew narratives to help us frame our pledges for the academic year in this post.)

There has been a new addition to our SLC agenda this time round.  Crew have been asked to reflect on their work from home experience, including their online attendance, engagement and  productivity.  This has meant that we have had some difficult conversations (with more to come during next week’s conferences) but Crew’s self-awareness and honesty around the challenges they are overcoming have been truly humbling.  Although I am a little bit heartbroken that one of my Crew thinks that the lockdown period will cause a ‘hinderance’ to his future prospects, despite his absolutely outstanding work ethic and attendance at every single session…

On the subject of attendance…

I’m disappointed to report that I’ve only had 50% attendance at Crew sessions this week.  Even more disappointing is the fact that our Crew also have the lowest attendance and engagement levels in online sessions across the whole year group.

However, I don’t want this to overshadow how immensely proud I am of those who are turning up on time to Crew and daily lessons every single day: Tom, Thomas, Ali, Noah, Dakota and Kobe deserve a special mention and we’ll have to think about how we can celebrate your lockdown learning achievements once we’re back in school 🙂

So, I’ll just let Noah have the final word with his perfect explanation of why every day at school matters:

Two weeks into Term 3 – and Lockdown 3 – already!

And it’s been a very busy 2 weeks of  getting settled into our new online learning schedule, engaging in new expedition immersion activities (which have been brilliant!) and Crew, of course, which has been very much ‘business as usual’ from 8.30am every morning.

Although, as the quote above says, I feel we need to come back better than business as usual this term.  It takes an extra boost of motivation, determination and integrity to show up online to Crew and daily lessons (especially on snow days!) and, even though we’ve had some very tired Crew members who’ve needed a virtual prod to get them fired-up on a morning, I’m really happy with the attendance and engagement from Crew across all lessons.

Crew Narrative Update

So, as we strive to be better than business as usual, we have spent quite a bit of time in Crew revisiting and refining our Crew Narratives, which now include students’ first Academic Progress grades of the school year.  You can read more about the work we’ve been doing around Crew Narratives in this previous blog post: A HOWL-ing end to the year

Crew are looking forward to discussing their Crew Narratives, academic progress and pledges in more detail with parents at the upcoming Student-Led Conferences.  More details and booking slots will be available soon.

Habits of Work and Learning

The latest HOWLs League Table has been released:

Coming second in all categories is certainly something to be celebrated but, as we pledge to be better than business as usual, we know we can all push ourselves to work harder, get smarter and be even more kind than we already are to maybe get us back to the top of the leader board.  Our work and reflections in our Crew Narrative will help us to achieve this goal.

Happiness check-ins

It hasn’t been all work and no play for Crew: I have introduced them to the delights of Blankety Blank (how could they not know what that was?!) and had a daily happiness check-in using our very own Happiness Calendar.

I am a big fan of Action for Happiness’ Monthly Action Calendars and have used them in Crew before but this month we decided to create our own.  Crew have come up with some absolutely smashing ideas, and we invite you all to use our calendar and commit to a daily happiness task yourselves:

And finally:

Happy New Year to you all 🙂

Stay Safe.

A HOWL-ing end to the year!

A quick Christmas message from me!

I’ve chosen this photo from Christmas Jumper day to be our Official Crew Christmas Card.

(Can I just point out that no students were harmed during the taking of this photo, despite the look on Ali’s face haha!!)

Before I update you all on what we’ve been up to in Crew, I just wanted to give my personal thanks to all my Crew Parents for your unwavering support of myself and the school.  I’ve really missed not being able to catch up with you face-to-face during SLCs or Presentations of Learning, but it’s so reassuring to know that whenever I phone you or send you an email, you’re always 100% behind what we do.

Thank you for being part of our Crew – I certainly couldn’t do this without you 🙂

I know Christmas is going to look and feel very different for a lot of us this year, but I’m sending you the sincerest of best wishes and hope you all have a restful break.

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A massive appreciation to our Y10 families who donated items and gifts for our Christmas Hampers.  Here are Silver DofE students Mackenzie and Thomas sorting out the boxes, which will be delivered to St John The Evangelist Church in Balby and The Trussell Trust at Christ Church next week.

We’re still accepting donations, but anything received after Monday 15th December will be donated to our school’s Kindness Boxes instead.

Thank you.

Y10/E24 Christmas food hampers

Our Y10 Silver DofE students have been unable to undertake their usual charity fundraising activities this year, so they’ve decided to create food hampers for our local food banks.

We’re all very aware of the financial impact the various lockdown/tier 3 restrictions have had on our community, especially on those who have been furloughed or are self employed and unable to work.  So, in addition to the staple non-perishable items (cereals; tinned and packeted foods; tea/coffee/juice) we are specifically asking for donations of those ‘treat’ items that some families may have to go without this year.

For example:

  • nice biscuits
  • chocolates/selection boxes
  • Christmas crackers
  • mince pies, cakes, etc.
  • small gift sets (e.g. hand cream/deodorant)

If you are able to contribute, please can you send items in to be passed on to your child’s Crew Leader by Monday 15th December.

The hampers will be donated to St John The Evangelist Church in Balby and The Trussell Trust at Christ Church during the last week of term.

Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Kindness boxes:

The school are also collecting items for our kindness boxes, which we’ll be putting together to support families within our XP Trust. See this blog post for more information and, again, please donate if you can.

Thank you.

#aboveallcompassion

Another year, another pledge!

Towards the end of last term, Crew Finch undertook what has now become the annual task of setting their Pledges for the academic year.

Before doing so, we spent some time reflecting on the pledges from the previous year and, even though the last school year was interrupted, many of those pledges were fulfilled!  For example, quite a few Crew members wanted to improve their reading and comprehension skills – Big Tick to several of those who pledged to do so, as shown with our recent AR Star Reader test results (as mentioned in this previous blog.)

I wasn’t surprised to see that many of this year’s Crew Pledges were focussed around their Choice GCSE/BTEC subjects.  Although Choice is supported by a teacher or a mentor, there is a strong expectation that students become leaders of their own learning and commit to studying in their own time.  Quite a few of these pledges recognise this and acknowledge that it’s going to be hard work.

Crew have not only pledged to work hard in their Choice subjects, they have also asked Crew to support them by holding them accountable and challenging them if they’re not working as hard as they should be (just a little ‘nudge’ now and then!)

This just goes to show how much Crew support is valued and needed, probably now more than ever.

We will have regular pledge check-ins throughout the year.

Checking in with ourselves

 

We’ve spent the past few Wise Wednesday Crew sessions looking at how sleep (or lack of!) affects our concentration and productivity at school. A lot of the discussions have been around what we can change to ensure we are getting a good night’s sleep, like making sure we go to bed at a decent time every night and making sure we start winding down as we prepare for bed for example, by switching off devices!  Over the past week, we’ve done a daily sleep check-in and I’m pleased to say that most Crew members, including myself, have noticed an improvement in the quality of our sleep just by making small changes.

This week, we started to explore what other lifestyle factors impact upon our health and wellbeing by reflecting on some of the ‘bad’ habits we may’ve gotten into.  We used the following video as a discussion point – a tongue-in-cheek instruction guide on how to be miserable.  I think at some point most – if not all –  of us recognised ourselves in this!  It’s definitely worth sharing here for you to watch, too:

Watching the video and having our discussions made us realise that:

It is only by understanding bad habits that we can carve out good ones.

Mr Wilmot revisited this message during Friday’s Crew session, leading a session around being aware of what we do that we know is bad for our mental and physical health – and what we can do to start making positive changes.

Crew showed courage by sharing some of the bad habits they’re aware of, mostly around comparing themselves to who they see online, over-thinking, self-sabotage and imposter syndrome.

We looked at what we do when we do feel in a low mood: stay in our rooms, withdraw from those around us, no physical activity, we might eat too much junk food – all with the aim of making us feel better – which it may do for a little while –  but these behaviours actually make us feel worse in the long run!

With that in mind, Mr Wilmot encouraged us all to take some time out this weekend and do something solely for ourselves, ideally away from the online world… something we know we will enjoy, to help us to reset our minds and make us feel better about ourselves. Hopefully, by developing the good habit of checking in with ourselves and doing more of what makes us happy, we’ll be able to cope better with the daily stresses around us. In a world that glorifies ‘busy’, this has never been as important.  It’s also a very timely challenge with Saturday being World Mental Health Day.

I pledged to go out for a run and be really mindful of my surroundings rather than keeping my head down and focussing on the ground (pleased to say that I achieved that this morning – noticing the gorgeous autumnal changes on my regular route has definitely made me feel happier!)  I’ll be checking in with Mr Wilmot next week to see if he’s read the last 100 pages of that book he hasn’t got round to finishing and also see if Crew have stuck to their own pledges to spend some time checking in with themselves over the weekend.

Celebrating the highs and sharing the lows

 

Friday is definitely my favourite Crew Day.

Firstly, it’s Quiz Friday so we start the day with a bit of healthy (but not always friendly!) competition by splitting into teams and seeing who can score the most points for the whole-school Crew Quiz League.  Congratulations this week to Team Wilmot who beat Team Parker by just 1 point.

Secondly, I love Friday’s because we have an extra Crew session in the afternoon.  We use this as an opportunity to reflect on the past week.  This week, I asked Crew for the highlights and lowlights of the week.

The Highs…

As Crew Leader, there have been so many highlights:

One of my highlights is welcoming Mr Wilmot to Crew Finch.  He is currently volunteering at the school and will be joining us in Crew three days a week.  He’s already contributed so much to our sessions and we’re looking forward to spending more time with him.

Another highlight for me was seeing how well Crew have done on their recent Star Reader test, an assessment of students’ reading and comprehension skills.

Miss Johnson recently shared a presentation with us on why reading is so important. During the presentation we learnt that:

  • The current GCSE exams (including subjects such as Maths and Science) require students to have a reading age of at least 15 years 7 months.
  • Recently studies have found that for the latest exams the average reading age was just 10 years 7 months, indicating a 5 year disparity between where they are at and where they need to be, to be able to access a question.

I’m delighted that three of our Crew members are already above this reading age – Noah, Brendan and Tom – and their love of reading is definitely evident in their academic work and attainment.

Being told by two members of staff how well Libby is doing in sessions was a major highlight of the week for me!  It’s no secret that she struggled to keep up with her learning during lockdown but since coming back she has really taken charge of her own learning and has started to create her own revision aids during lessons. Great work, Libby!

Meanwhile, Mackenzie’s lowlight actually ended up being his highlight!

Mackenzie was struggling to manage his behaviour is lessons (low level stuff bit enough to disrupt his own and others learning) so was placed on a behaviour tracker at the start of the week.  He told us that being on a tracker has actually helped him focus more in class and he is enjoys having set targets to work towards in class. He was given the target to achieve a 3 across Work Hard, Get Smart and Be Kind in all sessions, but he has absolutely smashed this target by consistently  working to a level of 4 and 4.5!  I’m so proud of your attitude and work ethic, Mackenzie and this just goes to show that you CAN do it!

Other Crew highlights included enjoying the challenge of Further Maths (Tom), sorting out some friendship issues (Dakota) and Bryn’s highlight was just being back and settled in school!

…and the Lows

As we worked round the circle, one crew member had the courage to share with us that he didn’t have any highlights to share and  that he actually felt a little ‘lost’ since returning to school.  Crew allowed him to explore why he felt like this, offering guidance and support in a compassionate and respectful manner. As he spoke, others had the courage to share their own thoughts and worries.

What came out of this is an acknowledgment that, even though we’re back in school, the new normal is anything but normal!

Some of us are obviously still struggling to cope with the previous lockdown, current restrictions, and uncertainty about he future.

It’s something we’ve all agreed to explore in more detail during Monday’s Crew session.

The highlight for me from this is that Crew instantly recognised that a fellow crew member needed their support.  Their problem has become “our” problem because… #wearecrew