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Updates from Jude

23 June 2017

posted 22 Jun 2017, 16:04 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 22 Jun 2017, 16:04 ]

Learning is a social activity. That's why collaboration features so strongly as an underlying principle at our school. It's not because it's fun to work with others or 'hang out' with friends in class, it's for a scientific reason. From a neuroscience perspective, 'making learning stick' is more likely to happen when certain activity in the brain is enhanced - that supports memory and recall.

"The brain networks activated in social interaction will then be more likely to be linked to new content..... these networks include the medial pre frontal cortex.... a region important for processing identity, self-evaluation, and self- relevance." (Heatherton, 2011)

The other useful way to use collaboration to increase capacity for learning is for learners to be teachers. Teaching an idea is a definite for deeper learning. That's why you may observe a child teaching a group a particular maths strategy, another modelling a language feature with a group pf peers. So, when we think of how natural it is for young children to 'play schools', they really are providing a fabulous collaborative environment for great learning. The brain will be working in mysterious ways!

It's exciting to be in education in the times when we are learning a whole lot more about how the brain works and make the link with how to optimise conditions for deep learning. We are also wanting to break down the walls between learning and play..... you may have witnessed some very interesting 'contraptions' in the playground of late. I was chatting to a group of young ones the other day who had spent a few days constructing a roof out of layers of driftwood and flax over their playtimes. They said, "We want it stable and that's why we have pieces going one way and another and have tied it together with flax......." I heard maths, technology, science and learner attributes all tied together beautifully in a large flax bow! And do you know what? No playground 'issues' either! That's got to be a winner! Brilliant!

Now...... to work on how we are going to store our 'bits and pieces'....... I think that will be a collaborative task!

Have a lovely weekend and see you on Monday for Matariki Tree Planting and a Day of Appreciating Beauty and Excellence!

16 June 2017

posted 15 Jun 2017, 17:23 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 15 Jun 2017, 17:24 ]

As part of our commitment to children's wellbeing through our Positive Education programme, we are enjoying building whole days dedicated to the cause. Last term we held our inaugural 'Grow your Mind Day' where we invited parents and children to run a series of workshops around things they were passionate about, providing new opportunities for our children to try something they may not have ever done before. 

As mentioned in last week's Newsletter, hot on these heels is our next whole day, this time 'Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence' which will also tie in with our Matariki Festival. If you are keen to run a workshop around this theme - and we hope so - please see your child's base group teacher. 

What is Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence?  [It's about awe, wonder, elevation]: Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

In our busy worlds, how often do we have the opportunity to take the time to appreciate what's around us?  For some of us and the children, this may already be a big part of who we are, a key strength, for others it may be still lying untapped. So let's get our children connected to something greater than different sized screens and get into expanding their horizons!

This link to planting, to nature, to beautifying and being connected to 'our place', combined with the art, the science and the creativity required as we work towards the Arts Celebration, provides the types of rich and authentic learning experiences we value. So, thanks in advance to the teachers and support staff - it's high energy and innovation that will be required until the very last day of Term 2. I'm sorry- there won't be any 'plodding to the finish line' around here! The good news is that all of us - children, staff and community members, neighbours and whanau can all benefit in wellness!

Bring on the awe, the wonder and elevation!

9 June 2017

posted 8 Jun 2017, 15:22 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 8 Jun 2017, 15:24 ]

These short weeks are a bit interesting. I hope your whanau enjoyed some extra time together and stayed warm and well! 

Over the next couple of weeks we will have you all popping in and out for your child's Progress Meetings. This is a time when you meet with the base group teacher alone, without the children present, so it really is a good opportunity to chat about all the things you want to without their ears in the room, so to speak!

At these Meetings, you will also receive the first written report of the year. For some children, this will also include what is known as an 'interim OTJ' and for others a 'final OTJ' against the National Standards in Reading, Writing and Maths. An OTJ = Overall Teacher Judgement. The report will also include a piece about other areas of value - around character strengths, wellbeing, learner attributes, key competencies.... all those wonderful skills we need to be whole.

If it's all sounding a bit like educational gobbledy gook - don't worry- the teacher will talk you through and use diagrams and examples as they go if they are needed and explain the timing around OTJs. It's a little complicated and we all learn in different ways!
If you have a child new to school and/or in Autahi, things will also look slightly different. You will have been/will be contacted by the base group teacher to let you know what's what. They will sort you!

I love this simple double helix created by the International Positive Education Network. I think it sums up the way in which we are wanting to talk 'progress'. What we do know is that it takes both to enable a child to flourish. Let's keep that in mind as we discuss where they are at and how we support their development. 

26 May 2017

posted 25 May 2017, 17:47 by Carolyn Brett

There was a lovely article in the latest Education Gazette last week about using the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) model in an Early Learning environment. This was really timely as we are using the AI approach more and more - whether it's in our conversations about staff and student strengths, curriculum review or professional learning .... opportunities abound! 

This article also resonated strongly with the focus on outdoor learning. Last week our new shadehouse saw plenty of action. We are being supported by Te Motu Kairangi Restoration Group who have financed and helped to install the irrigation system. John (our John!) and Joakim (from Motu Kairangi) collected seed of endemic species and planted these with the children this last week. Seedlings will be planted in our immediate area and we are also supporting the Motu Kairangi vision which is to restore the Korowai a Tāne, Tāne’s cloak. Tāne being the God of the Forest! 

You can read the article here.

We are gearing up for Matariki Celebrations later in the term. If you are new to the school, you will soon realise that we always mix things up a bit with these celebrations and will rarely rock out the same thing! So, this year you can anticipate some planting of your own! Yes, whanau/family planting among some other activities which will soon be finalised and then revealed. Please pop aside the date: Monday 26 June 2017

If you haven't celebrated Matariki before, you can find out more about it here.

Discos, Fair Meetings, Helping with swimming, sports, trips, up and coming Ceilidh........ and on it goes. I had a parent say to me last week that she just can't believe how engaged this community is. Go us!

19 May 2017

posted 18 May 2017, 19:11 by Carolyn Brett

Serendipity was alive and well last Friday when an email popped through from a parent titled "Back in the Day!". I'd been discussing the history of the school with a visiting colleague the previous day and sharing the book 'Open School House' printed in 1980, where we feature on the cover. I'd also been flicking through the booklet '100 Years at Worser Bay' and thinking about Miramar's past, as this is the context for Student Inquiry in the Juniors at the moment. 

So, it was just brilliant timing to receive this email with an excerpt from Lauris Edmond's autobiographical story "Lauris Edmond - An Autobiography". Lauris was a highly regarded poet, writer and teacher here at WBS for a time. It's just too good not to share:

"In the third term I moved again, to Worser Bay, a small school on the top of a hill, high up among the soughing pine trees and pohutukawa, and overlooking the Miramar plain on one side and the steep slope down to the sea on the other. It was a remote, windy place and the school, appropriately enough, seemed outside the system that bound other city schools. This was perhaps because the headmaster, a retired sea captain, had come to teaching late and with an unusually casual attitude to the job. He was a fanatical bowls and golf player. He spent every afternoon, and some whole days, at the bowling club or golf course or, if the weather was disappointing, dozing on the staffroom couch. He was a genial, whiskery old chap, adroit at easing his way through differences of opinion with his teachers - indeed at morning tea, or on his rare visits to my Standard 2 class, he didn't show a great interest in educational matters at all. He talked of his days at sea, or in the Old Country, asked how we were. It was as though only by chance did he find himself in the company of people who spent their days shut in rooms talking to young children arranged in rows before them. He himself did no such thing, and after lunch appeared not to concern himself with whether we continued to do it either. There was much getting out early at Worser Bay."

So, although clearly some things have changed hugely from this time (ha!), Lauris does note it seemed 'outside the system' which is interesting.

We host many schools from all over NZ and beyond who are looking at building collaborative learning spaces and designing a more future focussed curriculum. We certainly operate 'in the system' and what we do is not so different anymore but....... I do get a very strong feeling that more of a boundary pushing, child-centred philosophy runs deep and is well established at our place!

Please find a scanned copy of a couple of pages of the WBS booklet I was referring to. There is a copy in the office if you want to have a closer read. The photos are great!

Please remember to take a few minutes to fill in the Google Feedback form. See separately in this week's Newsletter too. Due end of May!

12 May 2017

posted 11 May 2017, 19:48 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 16 May 2017, 19:48 ]

Our school's vision:
Worser Bay School Children love learning.
At our school, the entire school community can:  See achievement celebrated and children valued as individuals;  Feel motivated and inspired to participate;  Experience success.

We also have our 3 principles:  Valuing the Whole Child, Knowledge Building and Inquiry and Embracing Collaborative Learning

.... and our Year 6 leavers profile which is we aim to have our children move on as curious, confident and connected thinkers.

To read more, go to: Worser Bay School Curriculum

Our community changes frequently. With every new family joining we have new opportunities....... and every family brings new hopes, dreams and aspirations..... for their children.

It's timely to check in with you all, parents, staff and children, as to where we are at right now and if our direction needs a fresh ingredient or two to create a different flavour!

A methodology that provides a great structure is that of Appreciative Inquiry.... starting with what's already working really well and what we should absolutely keep doing. Then, thinking about 3 wishes for the future, the where we could be heading or working on further. The strengths will support us to move forward with challenges too. 

The idea is to create a Word Cloud for each in visual form that we can have for motivation around the place! In this way, we can pull the information apart to see responses from children, staff and parents separately and then also as a community, a whole. The most common words will be large and the less common words smaller - which will give us an immediate steer!

So here's what what we would love you to do from now until the end of May:

Go the Feedback form and add your comments. We would prefer your answers to be one word answers or up to three words, ie. "Creative" or "Friendly atmosphere".

As this is a really important exercise for us, we really need to hear as many voices a possible - please expect plenty of reminders!

5 May 2017

posted 4 May 2017, 15:29 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 4 May 2017, 19:41 ]

Nau mai Haere mai - welcome to the first of our more wintery terms! 

It's somewhat chillier on the outside, but, rest assured, more warm and action packed underneath! 

Grow Your Mind Day was the big highlight at the end of last term. What an opportunity for parents, friends, teachers and children to learn from each other. When I think about what we hold most dear, it was all happening....
  • Valuing the whole child - Tick!
  • Knowledge Building and Inquiry - Tick!
  • Collaboration - Tick!
We will certainly have more on the Positive Education/Wellbeing front on the go this term and are looking forward to holding a Parent Workshop later in the year when we can share ideas, look at where we have come from and work on the master plan for the future together.

Celebrating both Matariki and The Arts (focussing on visual art this year) will most definitely be upcoming highlights full of learning and growth. Both of these events will take place later this term - we will provide specific details as they emerge. It used to be so simple in 'the old days' when we didn't have 'student voice'! Simple, yes, but so much more engaging now!

Teachers are hard at work writing Progress Reports so you can look forward to having conversations with the base group teacher this term, coming up from 12 June (Weeks 7 and 8), this time without your child present. Of course, if you are worried about anything, please don't wait........ you may become more worried...... and we don't want that! Please make a time with the teacher that's convenient for both of you to connect sooner rather than later.

The other event coming up very fast is the DISCO! The first DISCO of the year.

Date: Friday, 19 May 2017
Time: 6.00pm to 7.30pm
Place: Salvation Army Hall, Miramar
Cost: $5 to be paid via Wrap It Up

The theme is Jungle Safari - full of opportunity! If you have volunteered, or are going to, thank you so much - we can't hold events like this without our parents getting stuck in, and the children certainly love it!

7 April 2017

posted 6 Apr 2017, 16:54 by Carolyn Brett

Next week, being a short week, means that this will be the last 'full, jammed to the gunnels' Newsletter for the first term. 

They say, time flies when you are having fun...... they also say, the older you get, the faster it goes (which I'm not so keen on!). We are looking forward to Grow Your Mind Day, Monday 10 April. Thanks so much in advance to all of you who have offered to come and share your passions and talents and provide an opportunity for our children to possibly experience something they haven't before. The timetable is looking really exciting, so varied!

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” (Brain Trace)

Along these same lines, Nicola has been looking into the growth mindset and girls' Maths research recently as our girls' National Standards data, in general, is not as high as our boys'. There is quite a bit of research out there! 

She came across this interesting TED TALK which you may like to check out. "Jo Boaler explains why mathematics is so traumatic for many people and shows a different way that people can relate to Mathematics. She also shares the latest brain science to show the ways our brains process mathematics, the importance of visual learning and the importance of self belief to our learning".

Some of the senior students created this video.

It will be very interesting to see where this Maths Inquiry leads. So, it's clearly all about growing around here after all in the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." 

Kia pai tö wä whakatä 

Have a good holiday (when it comes!)

31 March 2017

posted 30 Mar 2017, 14:01 by Carolyn Brett

There was plenty of opportunity to see children experiencing new things and testing themselves at Camp Kaitoke this week! There are many stories.......... about the child who was 10% more brave on the second attempt at abseiling, the child who mastered the flying fox (although way out of their comfort zone), the child who demonstrated very clearly that they could handle their emotions a whole lot better than a year ago on Camp...... yes - stories galore! This is what an experience like Camp can do. Camp can increase GRIT. 

Oh yes! I've talked about the concept of GRIT many times, and will many more times to come, as it's such a relevant topic. I've also mentioned Angela Duckworth too. Angela defines GRIT as a child's "perseverance and passion for long term goals......". Mounting research on GRIT suggests that your child's ..."ability to work hard, endure struggle, fail, and try again may be the key to determining long term success and happiness".

I came across a parenting article "What is Grit, Why kids need it and How you can foster it" by Jenny Williams. In this, it states that "kids are not able to just spontaneously grow up to be gritty people without being supported in that".

Camp certainly provides a great opportunity, but opportunities exist everyday. It's up to us as educators and parents to shine a light on these times, for the children's benefit.

Kia ora rawa atu to our gritty staff John, Gabrielle, Nic and Anna, our camp parents Steve, Deb, Steve, and on Tuesday David, Cath and Lesley.
We were so sorry that Gabrielle fell ill, John sustained a bad physical injury which saw them both needing an early exit....... which was hard for them both.
So to Hamish, our extended whanau member, ehara koe i a ia! Lucky you were there, that you are still 'a big part of us' and were happy to roll out the sleeping bag!

24 March 2017

posted 23 Mar 2017, 17:01 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 23 Mar 2017, 17:09 ]

Every year in March the school sends its Charter to the Ministry of Education. This comprises of the Vision, Values, Context, Strategic Goals, Annual Goals.... National Standards Data, National Standards Targets.......and so forth. It's a rather large tome this year comprising of almost 100 pages and has taken many, many hours of thinking and collating and analysing and planning to get it to the final stage. 

The bigger picture goals with key actions can be found below. 

Strategic Goals and Key Actions 2015-2018

More can be found on the website.

We know we are there when we can:

  • the variety of ways the school and community interact
  • dynamic teaching and learning programmes
  • key competencies in action
  • excitement in the classroom and students supporting each other
  • parents understanding their child’s learning and achievement and how to best support them
  • a seamless transition through the school
  • a vibrant and welcoming environment
  • achievement being celebrated
  • a sense of guardianship by the community

Now, as staff and board members, we are closer to this document but I'm hoping that these words on a page resonate with you and yours and seem something like the school you belong to - our Strategic Goals can't be like a tumbleweed!

Definition: a plant that breaks away from its roots in the autumn and is driven about by the wind as a light rolling mass.

No thanks!!

We are wishing our teachers, children and camp parents a fabulous few days next week. Enjoy the beautiful surroundings, the birdsong ...........the calm?!! Remember, if all else fails "Which character strength would be important to call on right now?!"

It will be a wonderful experience and thanks in advance teachers and parents for the commitment. Sleep well. 

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