Ron Berger on a Teamwork Approach to School Culture

Ron Berger

Ron Berger has been teaching for 40 years. He’s the Chief Academic Officer of EL Education and author of some popular books like Leaders of their Own Learning. He was on the podcast last year talking about The Leaders of their Own Learning Companion.

Berger is back speaking about a new book called We Are Crew: A Teamwork Approach to School Culture. At EL Education, Crew is the culture and the advisory structure. The new book details secrets to creating great secondary schools that promote academics and character development.

The book describes what EL calls A Culture of Crew: a school culture that supports the interwoven growth of academics and character—performance, ethical, and civic character—throughout the school community.

It also describes what they call The Structure of Crew: EL’s name for the daily advisory meetings that become a student’s “family” at school and supports their positive identity, character, and academic success.

We Are Crew: A Teamwork Approach to School Culture
Chapter 1: Creating a Culture of Crew
Chapter 2: Building Staff Crew
Chapter 3: Creating a Structure of Crew
Chapter 4: Helping Students Become Effective Learners through Crew
Chapter 5: Helping Students Become Ethical People through Crew
Chapter 6: Helping Students Contribute to a Better World through Crew
Chapter 7: Preparing for the Postsecondary Journey in Crew
Chapter 8: Improving Crew across the School

Key Takeaways:
[1:07] Ron speaks about the impact his previously published book, Leaders of Their Own Learning, has had on schools, educators, and students.
[2:17] How the timing of Ron’s new book, We Are Crew, came out at an opportune time with the current global pandemic.
[3:42] What is ‘crew’ as culture? How is it different from traditional public schools?
[8:41] What is the structure of crew?
[9:43] How the crew model varies between elementary and secondary schools.
[11:20] The role that crew fulfills in a high school.
[13:29] About crew’s post-secondary planning and goal-setting.
[14:42] Why is it hard for homeroom advisories in high school to be done well? And how can they be improved?
[17:38] What makes crew particularly successful?
[19:45] Chapters 4-7 in We Are Crew cover the specific jobs that crew does for EL Schools. In Chapter 4, the book details how to help young people become effective learners. Ron further elaborates on this and details how crew helps them understand themselves as a learner.
[22:15] Chapter 5 in We Are Crew is about becoming ethical people. Ron shares how crew aids in that.
[24:55] Chapter 6 is on contributions. Ron elaborates on how crew helps young people understand contributions and begin to make their own, unique contributions.
[26:51] Chapter 7 talks about post-secondary. Ron adds his thoughts on how educators can help young people imagine possible futures.
[30:04] Tom and Ron reflect on the timeliness of We Are Crew.
[31:13] Where to find Ron and access free EL Education resources online.

Mentioned in This Episode:
Ron Berger
EL Education
Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools Through Student-Engaged Assessment,
by Ron Berger, Leah Rugen, Libby Woodfin, and EL Education

Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 222: “Ron Berger on Helping Students Become Leaders of Their Own Learning”
We Are Crew: A Teamwork Approach to School Culture, by Ron Berger, Anne Vilen, and Libby Woodfin

For more, see:

Stay in-the-know with innovations in learning by signing up for the weekly Smart Update.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

Subscribe to Our Podcast

This podcast highlights developing trends in K-12 education, postsecondary and lifelong learning. Each week, Getting Smart team members interview students, leading authors, experts and practitioners in research, tech, entrepreneurship and leadership to bring listeners innovative and actionable strategies in education leadership.

Find us on:


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.