This past week, I joined my school’s leadership team in learning how to row as a crew. We are building on the philosophy of being one crew. We learned so much on our adventure about working as a team, and how each person carries an important role. There was a lot of chatter we had to sift through in order to hear the words of our coxswain. As the New York Times’ Juliet Macur wrote in 2012, a coxswain “is like a coach in the boat, steering, executing race strategy, keeping a crew synchronized and motivating rowers to pull harder on their oars.” He was guiding us through the strokes, giving us feedback on how to improve our crew together.
Each seat was a number, and in that seat, each person held certain powers for the team, whether it was leading the strokes from the stern – knowing those behind you were keeping up with your pace; or in the bow – guiding the boat, turning us around. The middle seats became part of a four man team, or a six man team, transitioning power to others as we rowed across the Cherry Creek Reservoir. By doing the work of the crew on our boat, we could see that we needed each other in order for our crew to succeed.
There was so much to take away, and see how it relates to our own classroom crew. One thing I took away from this experience is that we need our crew -our support system, our team – to advance on our journey. We depended on each other to carry our crew together across the water. If one mate “hits a crab” ( which means their oar gets stuck), we carry them along while they adjust and get back in the rhythm on the boat. Some maintain the balance of the boat while others in a four man or six man continue with the rowing. Every seat, every job has an important role in maintaining the movement of the boat. The workload ebbs and flows, just like the water around the boat.
In my classroom, we are building our own crew. We are learning how we can do our work and contribute to the growth of our classrooms. Acting like the coxswain, it is my job to guide the team on our course. I must be aware of who needs to pull more weight and who needs to coast. My crew needs to know the direction they are going and trust in the process. At times, we will need to make adjustments to maintain the balance of our boat. By working together as a crew, we are a team – focusing on one common goal: becoming better.