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Crew - A Structure for Support

Part of the Virtual Crew Collection

Students learn by doing at EL Education's network of more than 160 schools. Math, science, and other subjects are taught through "expeditions" that connect them to their communities and teach them the value of service. Students are encouraged to have "academic courage," and they work alone and in groups to conduct original research, analyze data, and present their findings.

The work goes in stages as students solicit feedback and make revisions along the way. Each step in the process reinforces a culture of continuous improvement and refinement.


-Juan’s announcements for you: We are now meeting for crews every Monday through Friday.

- If you’ve got something to say, say it.

- I trust all of you guys.

- You guys all, like, help me and just come out of my comfort zone.

- Andrew, a personal goal?

- To listen and concentrate more, and don’t be distracted.

- Is that hard for you?

- Sort of.

- Can you give us an example why that’s hard for you?

- The Crew structure is a really key structure. When I went to high school, I went to a big, comprehensive high school, 2500 kids. Nobody tracked kids, unless they were failing. In this school, you join a crew in sixth grade, and you have those same dozen kids with you for three years and that same crew leader, making sure that you don’t fall behind. And then you hit ninth grade and you have another crew for four straight years. And you watch those kids and you make sure they support each other. They all make it.

- Here we are, we have like, what, three or four days left, together, as a crew? This is a time for us to kind of just think about where we’ve been, and Leslie’s going to facilitate our discussion.

- What challenges have you faced in the past seven years? How did you get through them?

- As a crew, I’m probably speaking for everyone in here, I think we certainly faced a problem with stability.

- Each morning, they share their feelings, their academic progress, and their problems, with their peers so public explanations of their growth as scholars and as human beings is built into the day here. And that kind of reflective depth and that courage to speak up, to me, is very much at the heart of deeper learning.

- We have just finished up our third quarter. Crew is a place that we spend a half an hour three days a week, one hour two days a week, and where we get to know students on a personal and academic level.

- Things I target: I can set some goals using my Quarter Three report card. Habit of Work: I can...

- Crew has a structure just like class, and so kids get credit for the Crew. We have Unit Plans in Crew; college readiness; we’ve done career; student-led conferences.

- We give kids this opportunity to really reflect on what they’ve done well so far; what their goals are; and what are the challenges that they’ve either overcome to get where they are or the challenges that they can anticipate as they move forward.

- I have printed your standard-based grades, and so you’re going to look through them. And you are going to set one academic goal, one habit of work goal, and one personal goal, and you guys have about six minutes. Today we were doing some goal setting, and we’re looking to see where the students were, how far they’ve come, and setting small goals to finish off the year strong. Victoria, what do you have for an academic goal?

- One goal that I have for academic is to share out my answers to a group, and not, like, be afraid to show my answers.

- Has that been a struggle for you?

- Yeah.

- Can you be specific?

- Like, um, I have a hard time, like, trying to figure out if the answer is right or wrong, and then later I find out it was right, and I didn’t share out.

- Okay, so again, having some courage, one of our communicative traits: being able to express, even when you are wrong. So that way we can learn for our mistakes so that’s when the best learning happens. Right? And we talked about that. Nice job! Thea, can you share a habit of work?

- I’ll try to get all my habit of work grades up to a three or a three-point-five or four.

- How do you do that?

- Um, by focusing more on class and being more specific with my explanations.

- Very good. Some of the challenges that I have right now with the sixth grade crew that I didn’t have with the high school crew is just their social interactions and their maturity, and their awareness of long-term goals and what they are going to be shooting for being at the Springfield Renaissance School. Now what I’d like you guys to do is share what you’ve written with each other. Okay? And give each other some warm and cool feedback.

- Instead of explaining what you have, you could explain, like, over here, your personal goals; how you could get that up.

- Yeah, I didn’t have enough time for that.

- So, you can just tell me how you got it up.

- Like, I’m not really much of a tired person. I’m always an active person. That’s why I always try to do, like, try to do sports when the season starts.

- Let’s just have one person share out what feedback you gave to your partner as far as their goal-setting. Mikayla.

- She was very specific in her goals, like: she specified on what habit of work she wants to improve on and what character trait she wants to show.

- Nice job. So what is for homework? Who can remind me of homework?

- Share goals with family.

- Okay, to share your papers with your families. Okay, so make sure you guys go home and have those conversations with them today.

- How are you finishing out this year?

- I’m finishing the year by passing all my classes. It’s my first year without summer school.

-Good job!

- It’s your family. They make sure you stay on track, as a scholar and as a person.

- At the moments that we all need each other, we’re most definitely there.

- Crew has been a constant for me in my life. It takes a while for me to let people in so having people around for four years, and I didn’t have a fear of them leaving me was really nice to come to every morning.

- It’s what keeps kids focused and grounded, in terms of who they are and who they can become. And that’s a huge, kind of personal, social challenge.

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