The crews supporting Garfield County School District 16 are just as powerful as any expedition crew because they include the best experts: students.

Building Culture Through Social Emotional Learning

Critical to every successful expedition throughout history has been a crew of experts. Sir Edmund Hillary was supported by crew of hundreds and reached the peak of Mount Everest accompanied by Tibetan climber Tenzing Norgay. When Ferdinand Magellan attempted to circumnavigate the world, he had the financial backing of the Spanish Monarchy and a team than took up five ships.

The crews supporting the learning at Garfield County School District 16 in Parachute, Colorado, are just as powerful because they include the best experts out there: students.

Crew…not passengers

Throughout the school buildings in Garfield 16, you can easily find evidence of Crew and CRISP.Through Expeditionary Learning, Garfield 16 and the community have adopted the rallying cry: “Crew…not passengers.” This motto is infused in their culture and it is how students and staff operate day to day. Students are not passive participants in learning; they are active co-creators of experiential learning.

Each day at Garfield 16 starts with either a school-wide culture building meeting or smaller Crew advisory meetings, both of which help foster the culture and build a family atmosphere for each student at school.

“Crew gives students a specific and consistent group of people to belong to,” said technology teacher Scott Carpenter.

CRISP learning targets

Students are introduced to the CRISP habits of a learner through CREW, which are infused into academics throughout the school day. CRISP stands for:

  • Collaboration
  • Responsibility
  • Inquiry
  • Service
  • Perseverance

All five of these habits are types of social emotional learning, and ones that are increasingly shown to be beneficial to students in school and beyond. Throughout the school buildings in Garfield 16, you can easily find evidence of Crew and CRISP:

  • Students can be heard using CRISP language and holding each other accountable to being a Crew member
  • Bulletin boards throughout the school buildings display student recognition of developing CRISP habits
  • Positive CRISP tickets, which are called “Panther Paws” at Grand Valley Middle School, are given to students to help reinforce expected behaviors…kids love the tickets and the recognition
  • Teachers can also award each other CRISP tickets which are celebrated at staff meetings
  • The kindergarten and first grade students have CRISP charms that they collect on bracelets, which are proudly displayed in their classroom

At Bea Underwood Elementary, daily lessons include both an academic learning target and a CRISP learning target. The staff also uses CRISP habits when developing their personal learning community norms.

Throughout the school buildings in Garfield 16, you can easily find evidence of Crew and CRISP.Garfield 16 teachers own the CRISP habits and infuse them into the school day for their students. Jenna Hemphill, a Kindergarten-First grade teacher said, “CRISP is so important for my students because it helps them understand how to be a contributing citizen in our school, community and in life.”

At Grand Valley Center for Family Learning, staff stated that CREW has helped to:

  • Build community
  • Develop problem solving skills
  • Increase accountability among students
  • Drive goal setting
  • Build executive function
  • Develop growth mindset
  • Create common expectations school-wide

“Being a CREW member means you are valued, accepted, supported and an important part of our academic community,” said Chris Ray, a sixth grade teacher at Bea Underwood Elementary School.

Our newest paper, which focuses on a new definition of readiness, highlights the importance of social emotional learning as a critical component of both college and career readiness, Download “Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out” to learn more.

Abbie Forbus

Written by: Abbie Forbus

Abbie Forbus is Director of Teaching and Learning for KnowledgeWorks, working with learning communities across the country to coach them in redesigning learning structures toward personalized learning.

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