Crew Ali checking-in from home

The school highlight of my week has definitely been our Crew Google Hangout on Monday morning; whenever we have had time away (even just for the weekend!) I always find seeing our Crew members in our morning sessions sets me up for the day and reminds me of why I work at XP.  The last few weeks of the ‘new normal’ have been anything but normal I think, but Crew Ali is doing well and I’m so proud to be their Crew Leader!

In our Google Hangout this week we just did a simple check-in to see how everyone was getting on with workload and the new ‘timetable’, as well as find out what they had been doing to fight the boredom that some of them were feeling, particularly with not being able to visit friends or family or leave the house for days out, etc.

I think it’s fair to say that most of us (me included) have found being away from the rhythm of daily Crew and carving out a routine at home a challenge.  Many of us have more distractions at home and the lack of structure can be stressful for some; conversely, for others, in the first week that school was closed, the high expectations and volume of structured work on the timetable were overwhelming!  We appreciate the work Mr Portman and the leadership team have put into taking student and parent concerns on board and creating a flexible but really clear and manageable overview to support students in engaging in their learning from home. I particularly love the scheduling of Common Mission time to enrich our students’ learning opportunities and give breadth to our existing offering.  Remember that across the XP Trust we take a 3-dimensional approach to learning, which incorporates Academic Success, Beautiful Work, and Character Growth.

This week, in response to our check-ins, I challenged Crew Ali to think about their personal as well as academic development, by reflecting on the question: What will you do with the time you have available in lockdown?  We had some ideas in the Crew session and they are spending this week planning goals for themselves and coming up with more ideas to make the most of their spare time around their academic studies.  Here are some of the things our Crew members have been getting up to so far – why not try a few out yourself?

  • Watching a new series on Netflix with other family members – Ruby recommends ‘Locke and Key’
  • Learning a new instrument – Lacey’s family brought their piano down from the loft and they have been learning to play it
  • Lots of us have been keeping in touch with friends on Facetime or Houseparty
  • Exercise – several of the Crew have been doing the Joe Wicks workout each morning; Caiden has been cycling; Leoni has been playing football in the garden; Ruben has been walking his new puppy!
  • Cooking – Caiden has been making bread and homemade lemonade
  • Crafting – Marshall has been making salt dough handprints, then baking them ready to paint; he has also been drawing and playing console games with his dad
  • Mrs Townson has been writing a list of goals I want to achieve before my new baby arrives in June – then putting a plan in place to action them!  One of these is to make time for myself each day – it can be difficult to do when you’re in a house with other people all the time, but is really important for your wellbeing.
  • Check out the resources on the XP Trust EMBRACE website to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.  Encourage More, Be Resilient And Consider Everyone

Keep safe and stay home everyone!

A week of highlights for Crew Turing

This week was kicked off with the most moving presentation of learning that I’ve experienced so far at XP East, with the preview of the ‘Should I stay or should I go’ documentary at Cast theatre. I remember a few weeks ago having a conversation with crew about whether the UK should welcome refugees and asylum seekers. There was a real mixed bag of responses.

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Year 8 students have been experimenting with oil pastels this term in their art sessions to create some beautiful sunset inspired blends. Can’t wait to see the finished pieces.

What will 2020 bring?

Crew Turing have just reunited for their first week of crew in 2020 after a joyous 2 weeks off celebrating Christmas and getting some well deserved rest! We started check-in on Monday by sharing any new year’s resolutions that we had thought of. Some included

  • Lexi wants to gain confidence in gymnastics so she can accomplish more
  • Reece would like to learn certain skills with his surfing that he wasn’t able to master last summer
  • Many students wanted to improve their organisation – making sure they had their equipment and homework was completed on time
  • Lots of us spoke about increasing time for reading

I invested in a crew calendar to help with the resolution of improving our organisation. In the coming weeks, we will have SLCs to prep for, a HUMs presentation of learning, and various other deadlines to meet. Crew agreed that by tracking this we’d be much better prepared for what we’ve got coming up so we can hold each other (including myself) to account.

On Wednesday, we ate breakfast together in the student kitchen and created a ‘Crew To-do list” for the student led conference preparation, which included dates for when work needed to be completed by. It was nice to refresh ourselves of the whole process and what we would need to do. We agreed that rather than doing SLC prep in crew every day, that this time some of the work would be set as extended study. I trust that my crew can work well independently on these tasks now they’re a whole year wiser, and I can’t wait for them to share their expeditionary work with me.

I’m going to be putting on Monday night sessions where students can come and work in my room (A04) to get scripts completed.

We ended the week with a little inter-crew competition of capture the flag. I loved how my crew discussed their defensive strategies and were working as a team to fend off the other crew. It was also lovely to get a bit of fresh air and get our blood pumping after an exhausting first week back!

E26 and E25 have been learning about warm and cool colours in their X Block art sessions.

They have a really good understanding of this, as you can see from their work!

E25 (Year 8) STEAM Presentation of Learning

The Year 8 STEAM presentation of learnings will be held on:

  • Pioneer: Wednesday 18th December, 5-6PM at XP East

  • Explorer: Thursday 19th December 5-6PM at XP East

The students look forward to sharing the work they’ve been studying in the STEAM expedition, where they have been working towards the guiding question “What is the state of the nation’s health and what should we do about it?”

We welcome you to invite family and friends to the event, sign in will begin at 4:45PM on both nights. We also ask that students remain in school from 3:15PM until the event, if there’s an issue with this don’t hesitate to drop me an email: khaughey@xpeast.org

Take a sneak peek at E25’s final product!

Students in E25 were joined by visitors from the Conversation Club on Tuesday morning where they hosted ‘Minute to Win It’ games.

As part of our expedition ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ we are answering the guiding question, ‘Why Should We Care About Migration?’, which means we have spent lots of time meeting and interviewing asylum seekers from our local community, finding out what it is like to move from one country to another and what the difficulties are.

During the morning we moved away from interview questions and instead focused on building a sense of community. Students really enjoyed teaming up with friends from the Conversation Club in order to compete against each other, whilst having fun- with a few surprises along the way!

We would like to appreciate those that took time out of their day to join us, with a special thanks to Nic for his extra games providing us with lots of laughs! See why here:

I am very proud of all of the students in E25 for the compassion they have shown throughout the expedition, it was heart warming to see the smiles on everyones faces this afternoon!

Marginal gains in Crew Turing

 

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Mrs Green for coming in and doing a session on careers with my crew! I can’t wait to build on the work she did helping my crew come up with careers they might be interested in or suited to based on the questionnaires they filled in. This week we’ll look further into some options and what they will need to do in terms of qualifications or work experience to enter certain industries or careers.

This week, my crew have been focusing on our position on the crew dashboards comparatively with other crews in E25. I’m delighted that we have almost no entries to the negative conduct form and that on the whole, extended study is handed in on time and equipment is organised amongst my crew.

There were two aspects of the dashboard that we acknowledged needed working on: praise form entries and our attendance. There were lots of bugs being passed about last term, even I ended up really poorly at one point! However, we’ve made an agreement that this term we focus on making marginal gains in terms of our attendance percentage as every day at school mattered.

We even did the maths, since our average attendance last term was just 90%, as a collective crew we’d miss out on over 100 days of school if we carried on like this! I’m already seeing a great improvement this week.

The issue of our praise form entries was something that we also needed to intervene in as a crew. We discussed how we could improve our number of entries on the praise form, and we decided to set a challenge. Daily, each member of my crew were to record how many times another crew member put their hand up and answered a question or posed a question to a teacher to help clarify their understanding. Here’s how they got on:

I’d like to massively appreciate Torran for his improvement from no entries on day 1 to 5 by day 3 and Dylan for increasing his to 13 on one day! Most of my crew really rose to the challenge and I, amongst others, noticed a real difference in sesion. We even went from the bottom scorers on the praise entries, to the 3rd crew in the year, making gains of +4.0 in our entry average. I’m going to carry this on next week until we reign supreme at the top of the crew dashboard, I’m determined that each marginal gain will have a huge impact on our comparative scores across the crews.

Another focus we’ll be looking towards as a crew this week is the general election and taking a wider look at the world around us. I’ve got us a subscription to National Geographic magazine which I’m going to make the focus of this week’s accelerated reader crew, I can’t wait to delve into important issues in our global community!

Start the day with gratitude

So this week in Crew we’ve been focusing on gratitude and appreciation. How can we be more grateful for the things we take for granted? How can we remind ourselves of all the positivity around us when there are so many negative images forced upon us each day? How can we use gratitude to shift our feelings from negative to positive?

We started with some appreciations, then looked at this meme and discussed what resonated with each of us in Crew?

It was really interesting that our discussion took us into a way of realising that actually even in really difficult, sad, troubling or depressing situations, gratitude and spending a moment to think about either the positives in an apparently negative situation, or even looking for the things we are grateful for can help to lift us into better spirits: more contentment and happiness.

We explored the language of “cultivating a shift” – how can we take control of our emotions and feelings, to not ignore them (it’s ok to be sad, feel down, have a tough day!) – but we can choose whether we let those emotions control our mind, or whether we want to try and shift our minds into a more positive state.

We can dwell on situations out of our control. For instance, Fin showed courage and talked about his bad knee, and how it prevents him from doing activities and being as physical as he’d like to be, but he realises there is little he can do about the situation.

We discussed how this could be really frustrating or depressing. But with a shift in thinking about what good has come out of his injury – what he has to be grateful about – he could see that his friends really step up and look after him when he’s in pain, rallying around him; his friendships are strengthened by his injury!

We ended the session by writing down as many things as possible on a post-it note that we are grateful for.

Try it at home? What are you grateful for today? Can you acknowledge the things that make us depressed or sad or down, and “cultivate a shift” towards using out emotional energy to be grateful and feel positive about what we DO have?

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!