We Are Crew are words you hear the students of Detroit Prep chanting during an infamous Light Leader ceremony. Students are excited to say it. Students say it with pride. Students understand what it means to be a crew. What does it mean?
Being a part of a crew means that everyone is working together. We are on the same boat. We are going to the same place; A place where learning occurs, a place where sharing happens, and a place where students and parents feel welcome. Students begin to understand that traveling to the place where learning and sharing happen, cannot be done unless the whole crew is onboard. Unless everyone is willing to use cooperation, take responsibility, show compassion, and persevere. It takes a community full of students, teachers, parents, and school leaders to get the boat moving, traveling, and safely docked. But… how do you get students onboard?
We start and end every day with crew meetings. Monday mornings and Friday afternoon crew meetings are spent with the entire Detroit Prep community. School leaders and teachers collaborate on ideas to get students excited for crew. Other days, crew takes place in the classrooms. Teachers plan intentionally to help students understand how to work together and why it is important.
Each morning crew meeting begins by greeting one another (in a fun, engaging, and creative way). Our crew enjoys the various animal greetings best! Next, students get a chance to share about their weekend adventures, family, or their favorite things. Our crews favorite share topic is The Mystery Bag. One student choses something from home and writes down three clues. The next day, the clues are read, guesses are shared and the object is revealed. The child gets to share what they brought and other students ask questions. Then, we all do an activity. Activities challenge the crew in different ways. Sometimes an activity will challenge us as a team or sometimes individually. Some days the activity could challenge us physically, other times mentally. (Ask a Detroit Prep student what their favorite crew time activity is!) The last part of a morning crew meeting is shared reading. In the beginning of the year, I wrote a special morning message to read. In the middle of the year, students read with me. Now students are reading the morning message independently.
Our afternoon crew meetings consist of a reflection on our day together. We reflect on the Habit of Character we are working on. Other days we reflect on our learning targets. Next, students give appreciations or amends to their crewmates. Students acknowledge each other for modeling Habits of Character. Students notice when their crew shows compassion, uses cooperation while working and playing, or shows responsibility. That person gets shine from their whole crew. After appreciations are completed, we share announcements and say our goodbyes.
What does it mean to be a Crew? It means that we are all in this journey together and we cannot get to where we are going alone. How do we get students to value this idea? Simple and intentional meetings together. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon. They do not take up a ton of time, but the purposeful activities help students see their peers as a crew. We take time to say hello, share and play together. We take time to reflect, appreciate, and say goodbye to each other. These simple ideas are often forgotten about or deemed unimportant in a hectic world, but they make a world of difference.