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Updates from Jude

Also see the Positive Education page - one of Jude's passions!

21 September 2018

posted 20 Sep 2018, 16:52 by Carolyn Brett

At our last formal parent/teacher communication with you about your child's progress and achievement at mid year, you also received a written report. Again, later in Term 4 teachers will meet  with you about your child's 'End of Year Progress and Achievement' and you will also receive a written report. 

These 2 sessions, combined with the recent SLCs and the Goal Setting Meeting at the start of year, along with real time Seesaw communication, plus the teacher to student postcard, are all the pieces of the formal 'knowing what and how your child is doing at school' jigsaw. Multi-faceted with many angles.

At the mid year communication point, we sought your feedback. Thank you for your thoughtful responses. We have taken some time to go through the feedback and have some actions going forward.

In terms of the final written report, you can expect some minor tweaks in Term 4. We will also be directing you to websites that give a good range of explicit ideas on how to help at home.

Looking ahead to 2019, you can anticipate the design looking different, with the content being more representative of our whole child philosophy and still providing clarity about how your child is progressing against curriculum levels in the '3 Rs'.

Some of you mentioned feeling unclear about how best to contribute to goal setting. Goal setting is not an easy process...... as many of you will know from your own lives. This is an area we will work on as a teaching team to make sure we can provide greater clarity and support as it's also extremely important! 

Not only is "I am a goal setter" one of our learner attributes, in terms of Positive Education - having an achievable but slightly challenging goal, a purpose.... and striving towards it... provides a sense of accomplishment once you have arrived.

No matter how big and audacious or small, steps towards the goal need to be celebrated! As adults in the children's lives, our language, our positive attitude and our role modelling is paramount. 

Well know Australian Professor, Lea Waters, has great stuff to say about positive strength based parenting. I highly recommend her work

14 September 2018

posted 13 Sep 2018, 18:20 by Carolyn Brett

A few weeks ago, all of the principals, teachers and some Board members of our Mōtu Kairangi Kāhui Ako all got together for what was called a 'super staff meeting'. You may have even seen Suzanne featuring on the front page of the Cook Strait News from Thursday 30 August.

  • Worser Bay School
  • Seatoun School
  • Miramar Central School
  • Miramar Christian School
  • Miramar North School
  • Kahurangi
  • Lyall Bay
  • Hataitai
  • Roseneath
  • Kilbirnie
  • EBIS
  • Wellington East Girls College and
  • Rongotai College
are all formally part of a community of learning, a Kāhui Ako. We are fortunate to have Early Childhood Centres and Kindergartens in the East involved and totally committed to the community. To read more about the whole concept of Kāhui Ako, you can find it here.

The purpose of piling all of the staff into the Rongotai Hall was to hear everyone's voice around successes and also what we see as key priority areas for our work together. The data still needs to be more refined but it's looking very much like wellbeing as the standout number 1, learner/student agency as number 2 and cultural responsiveness as number 3. These areas already feature strongly in our strategic direction and annual goals for 2018/19, so we are right on board with this.

Wellbeing, as you will know, is a priority in this school and we have been building our Positive Education programme for some years. Ximena is our lead on the learner agency work and Suzanne our lead on cultural responsiveness as we pilot 'within school' positions for the remainder of the year. It's likely they will be seeking parent voice, so it would be great to have your brains in this work too!

We throw the word 'collaboration' around often. It's not simple and it's not easy to have authentic collaboration. It will be an interesting time as the schools and ECEs work together to figure all of this 'stuff' out. But, what we do know is, we won't be figuring it out in isolation on the hill, so that's got to be a good thing!

7 September 2018

posted 6 Sep 2018, 20:08 by Carolyn Brett

I came across an interesting article a couple of weeks back titled 'PE, but not as you remember it'.

It resonated - we are so keen to get our children moving......... moving more! 

Now that spring is officially here, it is a perfect time to initiate some new regimes or reinforce existing ones. Whilst we often hear the older generations lamenting about the breakdown of the family chat and general exercise due to the invention of the television - it's a similar conversation now - but one about multiple screens. 

There is often debate about the wider effects of screen time on children and young people.

"Many of the concerns around screen use relate to sedentary (or inactive) behaviour. The idea being that time spent in front a screen is time that is not spent exercising or doing other forms of physical activity. Sedentary behaviour may be associated with poorer physical health, wellbeing and mental health and some research has connected screen use to increased sedentary behaviour in children.....

There are also concerns that the use of screens can impact children and young people's sleep, something that is important to both physical and mental health and wellbeing. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that the use of screens at bedtime is linked to children having fewer hours of sleep, poorer sleep quality, and increased tiredness." 

The whole article can be found here.

Last week I was at a meeting .... yes, it was long and getting rather boring, BUT I couldn't help but look around the room and notice that the majority of my colleagues, including myself, were either overtly or covertly checking emails or texting.

"Stop it, Jude .......... be a role model!" I screamed internally. 

Please help us in our plight to provide the conditions and opportunities for healthy, active children to grow up into healthy, active adults and don't entertain couch potatoes! (Only for small periods of time at least!)

Tama tu tama ora, tama noho tama mate

31 August 2018

posted 30 Aug 2018, 19:08 by Carolyn Brett

A different type of 'normality' reigns post Arts Celebration week! 

What we witnessed was a true celebration of Inquiry learning through the Arts. Our Inquiry model can be found in our localised Curriculum Document and it's a document we are really proud of and it doesn't sit on the shelf collecting dust!

You may have noticed some similar themes coming through the Celebration of Learning - many picking up on the theme of Kaitiakitanga / Guardians of our Land. Which is wonderful as it's also the theme for the upcoming School Fair and the Fair poster looks terrific - look out for it coming your way soon!

When we reflect on all of the learning that went into the 2 evenings of performance, we can also see many nods to all of the facets of our Positive Education Model:
  • Positive Health - tick
  • Positive Purpose - tick
  • Positive Accomplishment - tick
  • Positive Relationships - tick
  • Positive Emotion - tick
And, underpinning this, the opportunity for children to let their Character Strengths get some exercise! 

This focus on wellbeing has never been so important. I feel incredibly fortunate to have got heavily involved in this work some years ago and have been able to lead a willing team to embed this deeply into the fabric of the school. There is no room for a 'nice idea' or a 'maybe, if we have time'. You will have heard of our recent Mental Health statistics in this country - the focus on wellbeing and mental health in primary schools is an absolute necessity. 

In the brand new series which started last weekend, "The Curious Mind", Nigel Latta examines the big question "What is your brain?" I think it could be a good watch. The more we understand, the better support we adults can provide our little people so that they have every chance of flourishing. 

I'm sure we will be popping some brain 'stuff' into the Parent Workshop on Maths at 6.00pm to 7.15pm on Thursday 20 September. Come along!

22 August 2018

posted 21 Aug 2018, 19:38 by Carolyn Brett

The Character Strength of Creativity's definition is: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualise and do things. The Character Strengths with the highest correlation to Creativity are Curiosity, Bravery, Perspective, Zest and Judgement / Critical Thinking. Interestingly enough, research highlights that Creativity is one of the most common strengths in young children (of which we have 211!), is enhanced by supportive, open, informal and reinforcing environments (well, that certainly sounds like us!) (from Ryan Niemic, VIA)

Sir Ken Robinson, the champion of the importance of creativity in education, talks about the need for all children to have a creative outlet. Here are some of his thoughts:
  • Creative intelligence is dynamic, it’s diverse and it’s distinct.
  • Creativity is as important as literacy and we should treat it with the same significance. 
  • More and more children are educated out of taking risks and they become numb to trying and failing before they succeed. 
  • We need to teach them to be prepared to be wrong and to be original. 
  • The world is becoming more and more dynamic and the ability to be adaptable is now a valued commodity. 
  • Creative intelligence generates the perfect skill set which we need to equip young people with so that they can navigate an increasingly complex and unpredictable world. 
So, the stars aligned this week and you have witnessed an explosion of creativity, imagination, curiosity and evaluation through the Arts on Wednesday and will again tonight on Thursday evening. Our Positive Education model - positive purpose, positive accomplishment, positive emotion, positive relationships and positive health have also all been paid close attention. This demonstrates our whole child philosophy well....... but it is important to embed the fact that creativity is not just about the Arts - it needs to be recognised and promoted across everything.

As Professor Guy Claxton wrote: ‘‘Creativity is not just about music and art, etc; it is an attitude to life, one that everyone needs.’’

That's certainly an attitude we want to nurture in our children - especially when we think of the world they will one day be living, working in and contributing to. We aren't educating for the world we adults work in any longer. It's moving fast and we want them to be ready!

Teachers, support staff and parents who helped bring the Arts Celebration 2018 to fruition - your energy and creativity has been very much appreciated. Thank you for your role modelling and finding joy in the tricky moments!

School is closed tomorrow for mid-term break..... maybe practise 5 finger breathing so we are ready to roll, with aplomb, Monday!

17 August 2018

posted 16 Aug 2018, 20:20 by Carolyn Brett

What's the big deal about having a positive school culture?

Researchers who have studied culture have demonstrated a significant  correlation between an organisation's culture and performance. 

Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell, from Harvard Graduate School of Education has looked closely at culture and discusses the notion that culture is connections, a strong or weak, negative or positive culture is dependent on the interactions between all the members of the organisation. Culture is core beliefs and behaviours and what exactly people believe and how they act depends on the messages - indirect and direct that everyone in the organisation, that's all of us, send!

We have a big responsibility!! I often have prospective parents in my office and when I ask them what they know about WBS the response is more often than not around this notion of  a strong positive culture. We can never be complacent!

When I reflect on the role of our ParentNet reps and the Rising 5s programme, I can see how important this combination is to welcoming all new whānau and a great example of culture-connections, beliefs and behaviours in action. 

On a smaller person level, all starters will also be placed into a whānau group and linked to big buddies to provide that extra support until they feel 'part of the furniture'. We are not only kaitiaki of the environment but also of each other.

"Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress. Working together is success." - Henry Ford 

10 August 2018

posted 9 Aug 2018, 17:52 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 9 Aug 2018, 17:56 ]

"What will our children do in the morning if they do not see us fly?" Rumi

I always remember my start in the teaching world. I had a very scary senior teacher who said to me on Day 1 "I hope you know you have the power to make or break a child's day."

We are human, we make mistakes and don't always get it right, but the quote above from my favourite, Rumi, really speaks volumes to me.

As the adults in a child's life, we have a massive responsibility. We need to model that mistakes are OK and that challenges are worth the risk. We need to support our children to be kind to themselves, to get over the blips in the road and pick themselves up and try, try, try again. We need them to feel secure in the knowledge that perfection does not exist and kindness trumps all.

When a child follows the example of any adult, they will pick up habits and perspectives that could last a lifetime. Many of you will be aware that we have a strong focus on language use at WBS. I have many favoured quotes but the one I use the most is by Hafiz: "The words you speak become the house you live in".

I know that the staff will remind me if I am not a positive model for them, just as I will remind the staff if I'm not hearing or seeing what I would like to in their interactions.

If it's true that "it takes a village to raise a child", I would like to think that all adults within the WBS community take this responsibility seriously and recognise the importance of positive role models and how they can use their 'power' for good.

We want our children to fly, we need to show them that we can.

3 August 2018

posted 9 Aug 2018, 14:53 by Carolyn Brett

My musical journey started with the recorder, as it often does! From here I moved onto a fancy melodica - the small 'piano' with a windy tube that you blow through - so 1970s! Then I upgraded to the violin - this was an instrument that I never bonded with. It may have had something to do with having to leave the house at 7.15 am on cold winter mornings with the violin strapped to the carrier of my imitation Raleigh Twenty (that's another story!) to get to the lessons at the Intermediate I went to...... and I do vividly recall accidentally banging into many parked cars.... often.... on the way - the violin case was wider than I was used to!

These were all of the instruments I played over my career in the school orchestra. The violin managed to get me on an exchange trip to the big city of Wellington. I also have a vivid memory of knocking more than one music stand down and papers flying everywhere at the final concert of the trip at Raroa Intermediate and getting a complete dressing down - yes, in public!  Oh, the humiliation of it all!

Then there was the piano. I started piano lessons at primary school and learned all the way through to finishing high school. A stint of guitar lessons over this time with the neighbour was relatively short lived - he was pretty stuck on the House of the Rising Sun and anything by Neil Diamond!

I started relearning the piano a few years ago. I hadn't touched it really since high school. I find it the perfect balance of being challenging but not too hard, it gets the positive emotions rolling and I think I really am in that state of flow and can't think of anything else at that time. 

I feel very fortunate that I had the opportunity to be introduced to music young.

How great it was to meet with an enthusiastic and passionate parent last week who is very keen to get a few other musical parents together and help us to get a school orchestra, in some shape or form, off the ground. 

Drumming lessons are in full swing as we lead up to our Arts Celebration the evenings of 22 and 23 August and music is most certainly in the air (daily!) Music is also something your community feedback for the strategic plan came through loud and clear as wanting "more of, please". 

The time is nigh. Let's do something about this and expose all of our children to the beauty that music can provide. We know about the link to Maths achievement, emotional wellbeing and....... many positive outcomes.

"Let the wild rumpus begin!" (Where the Wild Things are!)

27 July 2018

posted 26 Jul 2018, 21:17 by Carolyn Brett

Welcome to a rollicking Term 3 and I hope that the break treated you all well and that you had ample opportunity to have a more relaxed pace. 

Many years ago now, I read Martin Seligman's book 'Flourish'. This spurred a passion for me which saw me then spending a couple of years studying towards a Certificate in Positive Psychology, which manifests itself in school as 'Positive Education' - the science of wellbeing combined with best practice teaching.

This really has been quite a journey for our staff and many of our parents who are also interested in this work. Then there are our smaller people who I'm sure are benefitting in many ways, shapes and forms.

My topic for the final part of my study was based on the language we use and the ability it has to completely change a conversation. We often use the quote "words create worlds" in our work here. When we are conversing with colleagues and children - what are we focussing on? Where is that language leading? We know that human beings are wired for what went wrong rather than what went right, we know it's easy to ruminate and dwell on mishaps. 

But, it's also easy to reflect on what we are saying and change it up. A simple "What was the best thing about # today?" or a "What did you enjoy most about the #?" rather than a "What did you do today?" or "Was the lesson in # too hard?" can alter an after school conversation and evoke positive emotion...... or not. It's interesting when we reflect on our own language.

In saying this though, we also want our children to experience the whole range of emotions - they need to feel sad, angry, frustrated and all of the others in that list! This is about being human and building coping mechanisms and increased resilience. If we are forever saving them from the full range of emotions/feelings, it's not in their best interests, even though we would like to protect and think it's better for them. 

Martin Seligman has a new book out 'The Hope Circuit'. I came across a couple of sessions with him in the break on the Australian Radio station - ABC - All in the Mind series (scroll down a few!). The First on Positive Psychology in general and the second on Optimism and Hope where he discusses Positive Education. 

If you are interested in our work in this area, I think you will enjoy these sessions. 

At our last Positive Education Whanau Day, the children (with many of our parents helping out) created images of the character strengths for our very own personalised WBS Character Strengths poster. I've had a peek at the freshly produced finished product and it's gorgeous and need to share immediately!

06 July 2018

posted 5 Jul 2018, 19:36 by Stephanie Williams

Kia ora e te Whānau o Whetūkairangi

It won't be a surprise to you that I rate Sir Ken Robinson. I mention his name often enough! 

Recently Sir Ken made a trip down under. Unfortunately the Conference was slightly unreachable but all isn't lost as there is a very good article in the latest Metro Magazine.  This is timely for many of you who are thinking about Intermediate School and then the move onto Secondary School and where and what and how....?

In the article titled "How to choose the right school" - Education expert Sir Ken Robinson lays out the priorities to keep in mind when picking a school - and explains why learning dance is as important as mastering maths and can be found here:  How to choose the right school

The key idea from the article being that the quality of education is how curriculum, teaching, assessment, schedule/ timetable, environment and culture combine together- the balance needs to be right. When I reflect on these last 10 weeks of this term- there is not one of these elements that have been left untouched nor will be.... Every aspect requires attention and ongoing review and improvement. Mediocrity is a banned concept! There is some very interesting material in the article- it's a good short read I encourage you to give it a go.

What a great way to start Wednesday. ....wrapped up, fire burning, singing, listening to stories and a bit of a walk along the beach and up (and down!) the hill. The reflection aspect of Matariki is very special and what an opportunity to show gratitude for where we are and whom we are with and also remember those who are no longer here. Special thanks to John and Suz for the momentum and the staff for the early alarm.... the positive energy and leading a fabulous day of whānau learning. It was also lovely to have parents and friends in helping out and of course the support of Dean and Xavier from Heritage NZ and the formation of a new link that stretches across the water to Muritai School.

Half way through the school year is also a time for reflection and to review the progress against the annual goals, where we are against our targets in reading, writing and maths, what movement we have made towards our strategic direction and where the emphasis needs to go in the second half of the year. If I'm completely honest around this time my head is well into 2019. Better than living in the past I guess!

As we pull this information together I congratulate our teaching and support staff on the systems they have created and the incredible amount of learning they have done in 2 terms. When 3 pm comes the study, the planning, the analysis, the moderation, the other 'major brain power required' part of the job starts.

So to our staff - the next 2 weeks are a time for a refresh and a reboot please. We will be full on into gathering student voice for the upcoming Arts Celebration in Term 3 - 2 evenings the 22 and 23 August - before the Mid Term break on Friday 24 August. This is always a terrific experience and wouldn't Sir Ken be thrilled that the humanities are kept alive and well at WBS?! 

Find some time for a spot of dancing these holidays and see you all full of beans on Monday 23 July rearing to get into Term 3.

Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti
Let the uniqueness of the child guide our work

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