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13 December 2019

posted 12 Dec 2019, 18:31 by Carolyn Brett

Welcome to the final Newsletter for 2019.

The school year has a bit of a predictable pattern with layers of different flavoured icing. The last term always goes like the clappers and it’s also definitely a foot in both boot camps - completing the current and focused on the next.

We have had some total highlights this year. All of our children have progressed academically in the 3 Rs with some noticeable acceleration. This means they have made well over a year's progress in a year, no easy feat for the children, the staff and yourselves!

We have had numerous positive accolades about our WBS children’s conduct in the sports arena. Fairness, Teamwork, Perseverance and skills in abundance! That goes for all of the coaches and managers too! To hear our children speaking so articulately about different themes within our Positive Education programme has been a true highlight. With words creating worlds it is clear to me that our curriculum is having an impact - in the right direction.

Te Ao Maori - another of our Strategic Goals has also been highlighted in reporting processes, witnessed at Kapa Haka and shone brightly throughout the Year 6 Speeches. The Strategic Goal around sustainability is huge - sustainability of language, people, culture, place.... this is the one we want to create a more specific focused target around in 2020. I’m sure we will be seeking your help here! Plus, isn’t it cool that Miramar is on track to be the first predator free area in the World..... and we have been part of that from the start!!

The Year 6 Dinner - Thanks to the teachers for all being there to help out and join in the frivolity. The children and parents had a good night out!!

There is still a lot of merriment to be had at the WRAP and the Poroaki. Come along and be part of a school community celebration of people that have given so much over 2019 and reaped the benefits in doing so. Click on the links for the programmes.

Me mahi tahi tatou mo te oranga o te katoa
We must work together for the wellbeing of all

On that note, I wish you a great festive season and time to pause, breathe and smile!

6 December 2019

posted 5 Dec 2019, 17:30 by Carolyn Brett

Last Friday at the Year 6 Assembly, I shared the story of Winnie the Pooh and his friend Eeyore. Pooh says to Eeyore:

"You can't wait in the corner of the forest waiting for people to come to you, you have to go to them sometimes."

I was attempting to illustrate how things don't tend to just fall in your lap ....... you have to make the most of opportunities and give them a go.
I had noticed the word opportunities in pretty heavy rotation in the Year 6 speeches to date. (I will have to wait until after the Poroaki to hear today's 'batch'!)

It was fortuitous that before last Friday's Assembly we had received a lovely email from a previous student who had found out the evening before that she was to be Head Girl at her secondary school for 2020. She immediately thought to email to thank us for all of the inspiration and opportunities she had during her primary years at Worser Bay School. She went out of her corner of the forest in the juniors and obviously has continued to do so since. 

The old adage I often refer to 'children are like popcorn, they pop at different times' continues to be reinforced year on year when I hear stories about what children are up to now - and, hey, I'm talking since my first class in 1987! (Don't do the Maths!) It's my hope that with every child who enters our gates we have sown 'seeds of greatness' in all sorts of ways. It will never be the same way. 

Secondary Schools have been awash with prize givings and the like. In the last few weeks, I have heard of WBS children being recognised as academic scholars, talented sports people, outstanding musicians, actors and artists, orators....... not all children are awarded the big prizes but I sure hope they all have been more Winnie the Pooh than Eeyore.

We have less than 2 full weeks of the school year to go now....... but, in the meantime, I will end with a bit more of Winnie!

"What day is it?" 
"Today" said Piglet.
" Ah" said Pooh "my favourite day."

29 November 2019

posted 28 Nov 2019, 14:37 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 28 Nov 2019, 15:35 ]

Welcome to the final 2 weeks and 3 and a half days of school for 2019. Don't know about you, but I've noticed increased frenzy on the roads, frazzle in the shops and even a bit of pre-Christmas tension in Bunnings!

I don't know whether it's real or it's just what is expected at this time of year and we don't want to disappoint, we want to meet those expectations or, hey, even exceed them! Let's not! I am determined to breathe on through all of this and be optimistic that 'it' will all get done and all plans will come to fruition, that all events can go ahead because of stunning weather (?!) and we achieve all that we hoped to.

This is the week that Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) really stepped up a few notches, where final reporting sessions with teachers and yourselves continued, where those infamous Year 6 Speeches continued on, loved by everyone, some frivolity and merriment at the Poetry Evening, and where the transition programme started..... and..... and........ It's a total smorgasbord of opportunity to connect before we go into the summer break.

We have 2 whole school events to go this year:

The first is the WRAP. This year, there will be a host of musical delights, performances by every class, the orchestra, the ukuleles, the band and a chance for a couple of community sing-a-long songs. For those of you new to the school, everyone piles into the courtyard with a cushion and a picnic and has a bit of a party!

Then, the following morning, it's the community farewell to our Year 6s, whānau and staff leaving. There will be a bit of a bite and tea/coffee in the staffroom from 8.55am to 9.20am before we get seated for the Poroporoaki.

Yes, the calendar is bouncing. Let's approach it all with healthy degrees of optimism...... it's easy to join the frazzled, the frenetic and the fraught at this pre-Christmas time!

I liked this article in The Guardian last week - you may too!

22 November 2019

posted 21 Nov 2019, 18:10 by Carolyn Brett

It was lovely to celebrate with you last Friday at the Choccy Fish, this time with a bit of sunshine and plenty of wind. Oh, the elements! They keep us on our toes!

With plenty of outdoor activities planned from now until the end of the school year, let’s hope the weather gods don’t decide to party too much more!

As we put the foot further on the accelerator for the remainder of the year, we will be needing to practice all of the wellbeing techniques we implement in the classrooms. The teachers are full on behind the scenes pulling all the cohort data in Reading, Writing and Maths from 2019, and will be celebrating progress with the Board in a couple of weeks. This information then supports us to set goals in these areas for 2020.

Alongside the 3 Rs, we collect student voice in other learning areas and will be finalising wellbeing data in Years 5-6 as well. It’s a very focused time of year!

Additionally, the teaching teams for 2020:
     Autahi (Year 1):  Carl, Beth, Hayley
     Tautoru (Years 2-3): Ximena, Mikayla and Scott. Jacqueline - Reading Recovery
     Māhutonga Matariki (Years 4-6): John, Jenny, Nik and Nicola
     SENCO / Additional Support / much more: Suzanne

Have been looking carefully at students needs, areas for stretch, areas of challenge and using this to help shape curriculum whilst optimising teacher strengths.

We are now half-way through the Year 6 Farewell Assemblies. For those of you who can make the Poroporoaki at 9.30am on Wednesday 18 December, if you can stay on afterwards, you will get to hear all of the speeches again. I know many of our parents of young children love listening to these and it makes them excited to think about their own child and where they will travel over the next few years before it’s them up there sharing their insights in their own unique style!

Teachers are also well into the final meetings of the year with you where you will also receive a written report. These may fill two sides of A3 but please recognise the hours of discussion, comparison, recording, critique and sometimes debate that sit behind these.

The ol’ cliche ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ rings more true in a collaborative teaching environment than elsewhere..... and it takes more time and communication.

So let’s sprinkle our teaching staff and all of our support staff - Steph, Carolyn, Christine, Helen, Madi, Cloe, Teuila - with kindness and recognise their efforts before we enter into summer. (Did I hear the word 'summer'?!)

15 November 2019

posted 14 Nov 2019, 15:13 by Carolyn Brett

This evening is a humongous (a favourite adjective of many of our darlings!) thanks from the Board of Trustees - Andy, Tiso, Pam, Michelle, Erica, Suzanne, Steph and myself - for all of your thought, care and help over the year. We hold this event annually just after the biggest community fundraiser of the year - the Fair...... AND it's an acknowledgement for all of the many ways our whānau has contributed all year.
  • Chocolate Fish in Shelly Bay - Friday 15 November, 5pm - 6.30pm
OK, let's talk about the Fair. Why not!? 

For those of you who regularly read my speels, or if you have attended one of the Positive Education Parents Workshops over the years, I'm sure you will have picked up on some threads. Things don't always go in a straight line from A to B. 'Stuff' happens and it's what we do when 'stuff' happens that makes the difference. What I witnessed pre-Fair on Sunday morning was a brilliant example of community resilience, of people utilising their strengths and skills to come out with a great result. 

The other day I was privy to a  drama lesson (a planned, deliberate one!) and it was all about the glass being half full or half empty. The combined effort of our community showed total glass half full thinking. This caused me to  reflect on Prof. Marty Seligman's work on Learned Optimism. In a nutshell - our perception of events - as either optimistic or pessimistic - isn't hard-wired as once was thought. His studies reveal that optimism is indeed something we can learn - just like pessimism. It's a science. Minds can be changed and you can reap the benefits of better physical, social, emotional health. Please don't get me wrong - I'm not talking about the naive 'everything smells like roses' - it's the grounded in reality type of optimism! 
(If you are interested: Look up his book titled Learned Optimism.)  

Forget the rain, let's focus on what we can control and or influence. We can be so proud of the way we, the community, the 'hood', came together and displayed Appreciation, Collaboration, Perspective, Leadership, Humour, Teamwork, Social Intelligence, Judgment ........ et. al. All Character Strengths accounted for!

He waka eke noa!! We are all in this together!

See you this evening to celebrate.

8 November 2019

posted 7 Nov 2019, 18:33 by Carolyn Brett

"Stomping ground, turf, neck of the woods, hamlet, colony, commonality......." are some of the synonyms associated with the word community via the good ol' thesaurus. It's the minute by minute interactions that can allow a community to thrive or merely survive. Sometimes, it's the small things and not necessarily the grand gestures that can make all the difference.
As a child, I was very taken by the insect world and, whenever I could, I managed to swing a project in there about the ant colony or the life of bees or something similar. In some of these worlds, kindness is not always shown and some lower down the 'hierarchy' seem to get a bit of a bad deal! In terms of our school philosophy, we have tried very hard not to have too much of a hierarchical model - used in moderation and when necessary! Similarly, when we work with our children - yes, we have Student Council leaders, big buddies and our seniors are expected to take responsibilities on board and contribute to the life of the school in ways our younger students may not be expected to....... yet! AND there is not an age they get to where it's "Happy Birthday - you can now be a leader"! We try and develop these opportunities from Rising 5s onwards.......
Next Sunday at the FAIR, we have the opportunity to witness all of us who call this our 'stomping ground.....' come together and display what being part of a vibrant community is all about. This is where all of us parents, staff and children 'dig in', engage those Character Strengths and go for it!
As a big thanks to everyone for helping out in all sorts of ways in 2019 - the FAIR, sizzling sossies, sports teams, Parent Net, pizzas, plant sales, discos, trips, classrooms, gardens, orchestra, ukes.... and many other incidentals along the way - the Board of Trustees would love to see you at the ANNUAL THANK YOU TO THE WBS WHANAU! This is the Friday following the FAIR and I know many of you including the FAIR TEAM will be keen for an unwind and a get together.
  • Chocolate Fish in Shelly Bay - Friday 15 November, 5pm - 6.30pm.
Speaking of the expectations on our children contributing, please remember to come along to the Year 6 Assemblies where the tamariki  will be sharing their memoirs in their 'Year 6 Speech' in groups of 10 on the following dates:
  • Friday 22 November
  • Friday 29 November
  • Friday 6 December
The Metservice says rain for Sunday. We say....... whatever it is, let's give it our best shot and join in the merriment.

1 November 2019

posted 31 Oct 2019, 16:05 by Carolyn Brett

Well, that week went by in a flash! Slow down time, we have a lot more learning to do in 2019 - for the older and younger!

At school I was labelled 'quiet and serious' according to my Primary school reports. (I won't divulge the High School years!) This always makes me giggle and I find myself discussing this with parents who are worried about their children being on the quieter end of the continuum. Now that may indeed change! I think it was more about me always having a strong sense of  responsibility and wanting to 'please the teacher' and always do the right thing. In terms of academic learning, I did well throughout my schooling but I wouldn't say I ever had a major appetite or passion for it until University. It was more about completing the task and handing it in on time and as I got older........ trying to stay out of trouble!

This notion of love of learning is interesting. How do we ignite this passion for learning as evidence shows it's just as important as the learning itself. Neuroscientist Dr Jared Cooney Horvath was recently interviewed on Nine to Noon. I'll give you a bit of a snapshot of some of his main points:
  • Learning comes down to knowledge, context and adaptability
  • Knowledge has become problematic in the age of 'googling'
  • Knowing a fact is different from looking at a fact - if you can't lockdown your fact, you can't use your skill
  • Once a fact is mastered, you can dive into deep learning/contextualisation
  • You then move to adaptability - where you try and adapt your acquired skills to a new situation with practice and effort
  • When skills move from active to automatic, our ability to adapt is harder and harder (think a new innovation + being in a job for a long time)
  • Just as important as this process is one's belief in themselves as a learner (AKA Growth Mindset)
This is the bit that stood out for me - you need to believe that you can learn and you need to know WHY you want to do that
"Learning to love learning is one of the most important lessons that can emerge for a student in the education system" says Dr Cooper.

At school, I know that for me there was never a WHY. I just did it. 

Kids really need to engage with the Why, they need to buy into the Why and they need to understand the Why. This isn't always easy and, aIthough I often think we expect children to understand too much too soon and grow up too fast in an adult world, I do think the focus on igniting fire in the bellies, a belief in themselves as a learner, a greater understanding of Why may mean they go to new places in the future. 

When you have your end of year chat with your child's Base Group teacher about progress - I suggest also focusing on the motivation and passion they display for learning. I'm sure it will be in the written report but please don't gloss over this juicy part and just flick to the back page. Please do both. 

25 October 2019

posted 24 Oct 2019, 15:52 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 24 Oct 2019, 15:53 ]

A couple of years ago, Nicola Stevenson was awarded our Annual Study Grant as part of Teacher Professional Learning. Her focus was on raising Maths achievement and she opened our eyes and ears to the work of Stanford Professor, Jo Boaler. Ximena Aitken was already a 'convert' and together they have been presenting our work at a National Conference, other schools, online, and many of you were at the Maths Parent Workshop in 2018..... and, well, they have developed a bit of a fan base, much to their amusement!

Recently, Jo Boaler has provided the education world with a new piece of work 'Limitless Mind' - How Collaboration Unlocks Learning and Lessens Student Isolation. This is something I have in our 2020 Plan to get stuck into in terms of teacher learning. Collaboration, of course, is a central theme in our NZ Curriculum in terms of key competencies and also features strongly in our local curriculum. Let's face it - look at the architecture of our place - it demands collaboration - children and adults! 

I was working in the Ministry of Education when this exciting brand new NZ Curriculum Document was developed. It is the focus on key competencies that really upped the anti at the time and was very much driven by the workplace and what skills were going to be required in the future. Economics drives a lot! More work has been completed on the curriculum since this time but the essence remains. 

The key competencies being: Thinking, Relating, Understanding language, symbols and texts, Managing Self, and Participating and Contributing. 
Our learner attributes being: "I am powerful", "I am a goal setter", " I am a thinker", " I am connected".

I look at where many of our alumni travel onto at Intermediate, Secondary and beyond....... although I can't draw a direct line to the expectations and collaborative opportunities they had here, I have a strong feeling it's been a major factor. Well, that's what many of their parents tell us too. I'd certainly like to think so. I often wish we didn't have so many human variables and worked in pure science - I want to draw that line in bold and throw in a bit of glitter for impact!

Although I haven't read the whole book yet, Jo Boaler draws very heavily on neuroscience. She starts her chapter "Why Collaboration is Important?" with a clear statement..... when we connect with other people's ideas there are multiple benefits for our brains and for our lives. She goes on..... part of the reason students give up on learning is because they find it difficult and think they are alone in their struggle. An important change takes place when students work together and discover that everybody finds some of the work difficult. This is a critical moment... and one that helps them know that for everyone learning is a process and that obstacles are common......" And just a snippet about the neuroscience "Research shows that when people collaborate, the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the frontoparietal network are activated, the latter of which aids in the development of executive functions".  Yes, big words - basically, our social brain!

So, we will be looking forward to getting further inside this work and making our own connections to other key areas in our Strategic Plan - Positive Education, Te Ao Māori and Sustainability.

Hope you find some time to engage your social brain over the Long Weekend as we rev up towards our fabulous School Fair! Roll up, roll up and please sign up to help out, if you haven't already.

27 September 2019

posted 26 Sep 2019, 15:50 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 26 Sep 2019, 15:51 ]

We have arrived at the top of the peak! The final school day of Term 3!

I have spent some time recently looking through the Student Blogs, revisiting the Teacher’s Professional Learning Blog, reviewing our Annual Plans and Forecasting for 2020..... and I’m excited!

At this time of year, I find myself pretty much transplanted into the future, but there is plenty of water to flow under that final term bridge before then. Teachers will be full into final report writing over the next wee while. If you have been here for a few years, you will have noticed how much the reporting has changed over time. We now celebrate the whole child in person and on paper...... AND I now need to get my poets to cut to the chase and grow to love bullet points, as the amount of time per report is too extreme. (I hope they follow instructions!)

Term 4 also means sunhats, sunhats, sunhats..... please check out our policy here. We have a responsibility that is difficult to implement if the hat is not packed. There will also be a big focus on getting into nature, lots of out and about and learning outside of the walls, getting sand between the toes and, hopefully, only the hint of a breeze on the face! A habit requires repetition.... so a "pack your hat, pack your hat" mantra may be required!!

The School Fair is knocking on our door....... with all things revving towards Sunday 10 November. Please also diary the following Friday 15 November - this is the ritual following the Fair where the Board of Trustees puts on a few nibbles down at the Chocolate Fish in Shelley Bay to acknowledge all the help the parent community have given over the year. Adults can chat and kids can go off and play = perfect!

Have a great couple of weeks and see you with hats and bells on in Term 4.

20 September 2019

posted 19 Sep 2019, 17:16 by Carolyn Brett

I spent much of the 90s in living in London and South Eastern Turkey. The theme for tonight’s Disco has had me taking a trip down memory lane.... quite some memories! Quite a lot of shoe gazing!

This is the Disco that I could have easily just opened my wardrobe and possibly selected from an array, rather than the “Suuuzaaaaannneee..... what shall I wear?”

I’m sure you will have a great time tonight, also having a spot of reminiscing! Unfortunately, I won’t be boogying down as I’m out of Wellington. Thanks in advance to the host of parents and the staff supporting this to happen.

One more week of the term and then a chance to have a wee refresh before we put the pedal down flat for the final term of the year. The Fair is looming close on the horizon now and it’s a fantastic time to mix and mingle, contribute and maybe undertake some ‘service learning’ (as we call it within our curriculum).

For those of you who could make the Parent Workshop on Wednesday evening, you would have had a very brief introduction to our Flourish Model. When you say "yes" to the call for the Sausage roster, Pizza crew, Disco helpers, ParentNet team, Board, Fair team and helpers, School Trips, Sports Coaches/Managers, Team Ukulele and Orchestra, helping in class, gardens... whatever it is.... you are right in there ticking off some Positive Purpose, Positive Engagement, Positive Relationships, hopefully Positive Emotions (!)..... and maybe even Positive Health. When things get a bit much, time is tight and it’s another thing on the list, maybe a reframe and a reminder of the personal benefits, the opportunity to dial up your own wellbeing may win out.
So, to all our many parent volunteers, on behalf of myself and the staff, we wholeheartedly thank you. As I said at the mihi whakatau last week, there is beauty in the AND. You AND Us = we.

Give an extra hip jiggle for me tonight, please!

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