CREW -What have we been doing during Q1?

CREW is the advisory block that all students attend on Wednesday mornings

At yesterday's school committee meeting, Crew Coordinators, Ms Anderson, Ms Gieul and Ms Kwiecinski provided the school community with an update on CREW in Q1.

Below is a brief summary of their presentation. After the summary is a little more detail taken from the Hybrid handbook - shared with the SA community in August/ September.


What is Crew?  Weekly space for students to meet virtually in a small group with an assigned teacher/Crew Leader. Crew goals include:

  1. Forming/strengthening relationships between students and teachers, and among students

  2. Providing a safe space to talk and work on developing Social Emotional Learning competencies:  Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, Responsible Decision-making


Why do we have Crew?  Crew is a space where we can support the social and emotional needs of all of our students and counter racial injustice by recognizing it and helping to create socially competent students who have an awareness of social justice issues


The past four weeks of Crew spent on the topic of privilege, in general, and white privilege, specifically: 

  1. Week 1: Students defined privilege, discussed the issues of privilege related to inequities in access to resources during the pandemic, and viewed and discussed the following “Privilege Walk” video, which illustrated for students how advantages allow some of us to pull ahead while others of us are left behind.

  2. Weeks 2 & 3: Students viewed interviews with Millennials, like Leilani, that were recorded for the “Whiteness Project” to help forward the conversation. Hearing from other voices allowed students to agree or disagree with others’ perspectives and helped them to formulate their own thoughts/ideas. Leilani’s video was viewed in conjunction with two other interviews and formed the basis of a discussion on the concept of racial colorblindness.  Students were asked to consider how “colorblindness” could actually harm people of color.

  3. Week 4: “Privilege for Sale” activity: Students were given a list of types of privilege (e.g. white privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege, socioeconomic privilege, citizenship privilege, and able-bodied privilege) and were asked to imagine having none of these privileges.  They then had to decide on which ones they would buy if each cost $1 and they had a set amount of money to spend. 


How have students and teachers responded?

  1. By and large, students have been open to having this conversation.  It IS uncomfortable at times for students and staff, but there is a willingness, nonetheless, because there is a shared feeling that this is important. 

  2. Built into the agenda are regular reminders to students that this work is hard in that it’s not easy to recognize something that you’ve always had and that the people you are surrounded by may also have. Advantages are something that are more easily recognized by the people who don’t have them.

  1. Data was collected from all Crew participants at the end of Term 1 (Student survey data) and will be collected again at the end of Term 2.



Additional information on Crew (Advisory) taken from the Hybrid Handbook

Purpose of Crew 

Crew is a space to support students and to help grow a positive school culture. Crew is a practice and a space that brings the community together, promotes shared understandings, and encourages all community members to become crew, not passengers. 

Students at Smith Academy are known well and supported by adults; each student is known well by at least one adult within the school. One structure for developing this relationship — and supporting students socially, emotionally, and academically — is Crew. 

All students take part in Crew. All teachers, including administrators, lead a Crew of between 8-10 students from a grade band (7 & 8, 9 & 10, and 11 & 12). Advisory staff and teachers work together to create groups of students and to match them with the most appropriate Crew leader.

The structure of Crew allows for relationship building and culturally responsive character development. Crew allows students to build positive connections with their peers and with their Crew leader. Crew leaders work with Advisory coordinators to strategically plan Crew to address and assess these multiple goals. Multi-year relationships are also forged in other school structures to ensure that students’ needs are met and individual strengths are discovered. 

Crew takes place for all students at 8:30-9 on Wednesday mornings remotely, via Google meet.


Long term plan for Crew at Smith Academy

The plan is for Crew to become part of the Smith Academy culture going forward. While Smith Academy does not face many of the struggles larger schools do in community building, providing students with structured opportunities to socialize particularly with students they would not normally interact with outside of an academic content can help build an even stronger community throughout the school. Crew also provides structured opportunities for school-wide and age-targeted social and emotional learning and growth. There are many non-academic issues that Crew is uniquely situated to address. Currently these may include social justice aspects including black lives matter, grappling with the global pandemic and the impacts of social isolation, the upcoming election and all of the cultural divides this has and will lead to as well as any fall-out after the election results are known. 


What happens in a typical Crew session?

Crew is a non-school academic space for relationships to be built between students and staff. It is also an opportunity for staff to help students address and explore relevant contemporary cultural issues in a responsive and responsible manner. Finally, it is an opportunity for students to set and reflect on their own goals in the context of the school and the Hatfield community and beyond.