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  • Writer's pictureKaren Caswell

Get To Know Our Crew Day 2020

Updated: May 16, 2020

It’s no secret that I love pirates, well those of the teaching variety anyway! If you’ve known me for a while, you know this stems from a love of the book, “Teach Like A PIRATE” written by Dave Burgess, which is a treasure chest of ideas to make learning relevant, fun and engaging for students…and teaching all of these things for educators too! Last year, after announcing I was ALL IN PIRATE, I was lucky enough to round up a crew of awesome educators to jump aboard with me, and the school year set sail with a ‘Get To Know Our Crew’ Day. In the spirit of continued pirate adventure, our second annual ‘Get To Know Our Crew’ Day took place last week.

The first week of the year at our school is Know Me Before You Teach Me’, and our goal is for all students, teachers and parents to build positive relationships to support future growth and learning. During this week, we are intentional about planning opportunities and experiences that foster relationships and team building, we are deliberate about establishing agreed upon expectations, and we purposefully begin to collect the data about our students that Trevor Mackenzie advocates - their stories, passions, interests and goals. This provides the perfect opening for our ‘Get To Know Our Crew’ Pirate Day. As Dave Burgess says, “All pirates travel with a crew; you can’t sail, navigate, and fight battles all on your own.” This is true of our students as well as us teachers – everyone needs a crew!

This year however, we didn’t set sail, we cannonballed in! We were lucky enough to start the day with a read aloud by Tara Martin. Over 170 Grade 4 students and 10 teachers gathered in our hall/sports venue to hear Tara read ‘Cannonball In’ and share her very important message of overcoming fear, inspiring us to find our courage and cannonball in — no matter what the naysayers (and the voice of fear) are chanting. This message aligns perfectly with our ‘Good at Learning, Good at Life’ school focus.

The rest of the day was spent engaging in team building and getting to know you experiences with each of the grade level teachers, which enables each teacher to begin building relationships with the whole cohort. Activities students sailed through were:

  • #REALyouSnaps, sharing our uniqueness, while helping our crewmates get to know us and also maybe find things we have in common.

  • Personality Islands, identifying our interests and influences that help shape our identity.

  • Pirate Drama Circle, to encourage confidence and dramatic flair.

  • Sink the Ship game, developing gross motor skills and team work.

  • Build a pirate ship and test how strong it is by seeing how many marbles it will hold.

  • Sail Away team challenge required communication, co-operation and working together.

The variety of activities required students to demonstrate traits which are reflective of the 6 C's – Character, Citizenship, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking - such as grit, perseverance, resilience, team work, shared responsibility, listening and managing team dynamics. Nothing like a team building challenge to see how our students cope under pressure!

Once again, the day was a hit! Every experience was a highlight for different students, which means we were successful in catering to all students. If the smiles on students’ faces weren’t enough of an indication, then the number of Grade 5 students (who were last year’s pirates) who came back and talked about how much they enjoyed pirate day last year confirmed it. The memories made during ‘Get To Know Our Crew Day” leave a lasting impression!

As always, one of the highlights for me, in addition to the value of the experience and obvious joy of the students, are the relationships fostered between colleagues, and that the ‘Grade 4 Crew’ once more provided such a valuable and memorable experience for our students.


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