Crew Finch: Back with a Bang!

What an amazing first week back for Crew Finch, perfectly summed up in this photo… but more about this later!

I for one was happy to return to school after the Christmas break, ready to get back into a routine and eager to start our new expeditions.  There were a few tired faces in the circle during Monday morning’s check-in, which prompted a conversation about night-time routines and getting quality sleep.

Our students are used to hearing the staff telling them that we don’t wind down during the last week of term; we wind up! Equally, we are all expected to come back to school after every break fully prepared to start learning, from the very first session on the very first day.

This message was reinforced during the first community meeting of the term, where Mr Portman introduced the Guiding Question for Crew:

How can I hit the ground running during the first week back?

This GQ coincided with the release of the Habits of Work and Learning Crew league tables. Unfortunately, we were shocked (and a little bit embarrassed) to see that Crew Finch were at the bottom in every category!  On the flip side, we were very proud to see some of our Crew recognised for achieving or smashing their MEGs, so well done to Nicole, Tom, Thomas, Dakota, Noah, Alanis and Megan.

This got us thinking: if over half of our Crew achieved or surpassed their MEGs – which surely shows that they are working hard and getting smart – then why are we not performing as well as we should be in our HOWLs as a whole Crew?

We spent the rest of the week really focussing on the HOWLs and discussing not only how we can hit the ground running, but also what we need to do as a Crew to make sure that we are all working hard, getting smart and being kind. We have already made academic and HOWLs pledges after our latest SLCs so it was a good time to revisit and check-in with those, too.

We looked at the relationship between getting high grades on our HOWLs and achieving or smashing our subject specific MEGs.  We also broke down what the HOWLs actually mean and who in Crew were letting us down by not always being as focussed on these as they should be.  I think Dakota hit the nail on the head when she said:

We’re not just responsible for our own learning. We’re responsible for each other’s, too.

On Wednesday, Crew shared how they had hit the ground running so far.  For example, Tom told us how he was making an effort to get smarter by taking notes in Humanities, and Noah shared that he had been on the Get Smart board twice already for his focus, and that he’s making a concerted effort to manage his distractions in class.

I’m really pleased with how my Crew have reacted to the league tables and turned a negative into a positive challenge.  They have really pulled together this week to reflect on their performance, and I honestly believe we will see a vast improvement in their individual and combined HOWL scores at the next data drop. We’ll continue to check-in on performance and progress 🙂

So, back to the picture at the start of this post (and well done if you’ve got this far!)

On Thursday, we took part in the Inter Crew Basketball Competition, where we won all three of our games to be crowned champions – that’s another one for the trophy cabinet, after winning the Badminton competition last year! Just look at the skills and sportsmanship on display here:

A big appreciation to Mr Portman for recognising our Crew’s achievements on the praise form.  I’ll end this post with his lovely words which provide the perfect summary of our first week back:

Great to see Crew Finch win the basketball tournament as I know that they have taken their HOWLs league table performance very seriously.  However, I’ve been more impressed with their mature discussions about hitting the ground running this week, as apart from a few blips I’m delighted with their determination to put things right. What. A. Crew.

Champions in action!

To some, this might seem like a casual game of basketball.  But this is so much more. This is Crew Finch putting in the practice to make sure we hold on to our title as Inter-Crew Sports Challenge Champions!

We currently hold the title for our badminton prowess, but we’re pretty confident that we can have basketball in the bag – or should that be, hoop! – too, thanks to our secret weapon: Hatfield Flyers player, Tom!

Despite being split into two opposing teams, there was a great sense of teamwork and crew throughout session.  We circled up at the end, where Crew had the opportunity to appreciate one another.

The biggest appreciation went to Tom for his excellent coaching skills, top tips and sportsmanship.  Mackenzie was also appreciated for being an excellent team captain and for making sure everyone on his team were involved.

Inter-Crew Basketball comp: Bring. It. On!

If you can’t do it, don’t pledge to do it!

A massive well done to Crew Finch for completing their SLCs, and an even bigger thank-you to all the parents who came and supported their child through the process.  It’s always such a privilege to listen to our students’ learning journey and I’m constantly amazed at the progress they’re making.

That’s not to say the journey is easy, and part of the SLC was to reflect on their learning.  I have listened to some really honest and mature accounts of how each student thinks they can improve, and what they’re going to achieve their goals.

We often say that pledges aren’t just words, we expect our students to act on them!  So, we’ve recorded our academic and HOWL pledges and displayed them on our crew wall.

Some fantastic pledges have been made, but my favourite by far is Libby’s who pledges to…

“Bring all of my excitement every day!”

We will have regular check-ins during our academic crew sessions, and each student will be expected to update their parents on progress at their next SLC.

Well done, Crew!

Academic Crew: Poetic Devices

E24 have started work on their final product in HUMS.  They have been tasked with writing a poem about Doncaster, inspired by Tony Walsh’s ‘This is the Place’.

This week, we used Academic Crew to explore some of the poetic devices they could use in their poems.

We started off with a GoGoMo, before circling back up to have a game of bingo to see if Crew could match the definitions to the device.  Finally, Crew were split into teams, and each team had to find and give examples of 3 devices from the list.  There was some ‘healthy’ debate over the word ‘moaning’ as an example of onomatopoeia; Mr Brown later confirmed that it was! (Mackenzie – 1 Mrs Parker – 0!!)

Academic Crew gives us the opportunity to build on our skills and knowledge, to support what we’ve been learning in lessons.   It was lovely to see Crew support each other with their learning, and even lovelier to see members of my Crew putting some of their new knowledge into practice in lessons.

I can’t wait to read their poems!

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

In last week’s Community Meeting I appreciated two students for taking the time to come and check up on me on a day when I was feeling a bit out of sorts.  I thanked them for this and commented that although it may not have seen much to them, their small act of kindness had made my week!  Mr Portman pointed out that other schools have organised “Random Act of Kindness” weeks, but we didn’t need them because our students are kind all of the time.

And I agree… Well, mostly.

Today we had a difficult conversation in Crew.  Over the past few weeks there have been a number of incidents where a couple of members of Crew haven’t been particularly kind to their fellow students, either in their words or their actions.  The majority of Crew Finch are exceptionally kind, and they felt it was time to hold these two individuals to account for their actions.  The Crew had a very mature conversation about they type of people they wanted to be, and all agreed that being kind and empathetic are important traits.  Crew also acknowledged that nobody’s perfect and that we all make mistakes – what’s crucial is that we learn from the mistakes, make pledges to change our behaviour, and consequently become better, or in this case, kinder human beings!

Today’s session wasn’t planned; it just happened in response to a situation Crew weren’t happy with.  Yet again, the Power of Crew in action!

Dress Rehearsals

So we’ve ended our week of SLC prep with a dress rehearsal!

Tom kindly volunteered to run through his SLC in front of his ‘mum’ (Nicole), ‘dad’ (Thomas) and ‘me’ (expertly played by Bryn!)

Noah was in charge of stopping the presentation at any given time by shouting “Freeze Frame!” to discuss key points, or to offer feedback.

This was a really good exercise to end the week on.  It not only gave Tom chance to receive crucial feedback on his presentation, but also helped the rest of Crew plan and make changes to their own presentations.

Crew now need to finish their preparations over the weekend and I’m looking forward to attending my first SLC on Tuesday.

Let’s smash it, Crew Finch!

Focussed in Crew

More fantastic focus from Crew Finch today as we continue to prepare for our SLCs.  I can’t praise them enough for their work ethic at the moment – 45 minutes of hard graft before lessons even start!

I love how Megan has colour coded her cue cards to help her remember the key points of her presentation.  Excellent preparation!

SLC prep

Crew Finch have been ‘on it’ all week preparing for their SLCs.  Parents should have received an email inviting you to attend, but here’s a link to the booking form, just incase you missed it:

Crew Finch SLC Sign-Up.

This week we have chosen the work we want to discuss and focussed on reflecting on our progress and the areas in which we need to improve, selecting work from HUMS, STEAM, Maths and Spanish.  Today, Tom and Ali shared their work for students to critique.  

Next week, we will be moving onto preparing our scripts and setting our academic targets.

Although we are using Crew time to prepare, students are expected to work on this in their own time too.  I have set up a Google Classroom with all the resources they need to prepare.

Hitting the ground running!

First week back and we have hit the ground running in Crew, as we begin to prepare for our first Student Led Conference of Year 8.  We have spent this week reflecting on last year’s SLCs, talking about what worked will and how we can improve with our “even better ifs…”

The next two weeks will be pretty much dedicated to SLCs: making sure our portfolios are up to date, selecting the work we want to showcase, preparing our scripts and creating an action plan with our academic and personal targets.

It’s pretty intense and Crew will be working hard to prepare.  They have demanded biscuits to keep them going and I’m happy to oblige!

Invites with a link to the online booking form will be sent out early next week via email.  SLCs are your child’s opportunity to discuss their learning and progress with you, and we do count on your full support.  If you can’t make any of the dates offered, please get in touch.

Meanwhile, I took a photo of this quote Mr Portman used as a discussion point in our community meeting yesterday:

I’m going to keep on referring back to this quote in Crew over the next few weeks, as I’m sure some students will have moments of self doubt when it comes to reflecting on and talking about their work, and setting themselves targets for growth.  I can see the potential in each and every one of my Crew; I just hope they can see it, too!

The power of a compliment

The power of Crew was demonstrated again this week when we all circled up to help one of our Crew with a specific task – to make her feel better about herself.

A member of our Crew is really struggling to see her worth at the moment and finds it difficult to find anything good to say about herself, nor does she believe she is worthy of having nice things said to her. In her own words, she looks in the mirror everyday and doesn’t like what she sees… (this was quite hard for me to hear and I sent a silent apology to my 13-year old self who definitely had the same thoughts all those years ago!)

So, our task was simple: for everyone of us to pay her a compliment.  One that didn’t focus on her physical appearance and to make her realise that she truly is beautiful on the inside, where it matters the most.

This was such an easy thing to do; not one member of Crew had to think too hard about what they wanted to say because we see the positives in this person every single day.  We complimented her intelligence, her kindness and the “fire in her belly” which makes her strong and brave!

Was she comfortable with the compliments? No.  Did she leave Crew with a smile on her face? Yes.

We’ve got a way to go, but hopefully she’ll smile about herself more often.

We all pledged to try and accept compliments with a simple “thank you” from now on, and to believe in them, rather than mistrusting the intentions of the person saying it!