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Updates from Jude

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

9 November 2018

posted 8 Nov 2018, 14:59 by Carolyn Brett

Many of you would have already heard me talk about the metaphor for strengths often used by Psychologist Robert Biswas-Diener. It also fits with our location! Visualise a sailing boat. There is a hole in this boat that we must pay urgent attention to or the boat will sink. However, we must pay equal attention to the sail as the strengths lie in the sail. Without a focus on the sail, the boat has no direction and will mostly stand still. 

This strengths-based philosophy is strong at our school and has been embedded over quite some years. Some of you have told me about this also becoming more of the norm in your work places too. If we think of the VIA Character Strengths, for example, this language is part and parcel of how the staff operate with each other and with the children in their care. In fact, every support staff member or teacher who has been recruited in the last few years has come to the interview armed with their character strengths assessment and ready to discuss what this means for them..... and therefore for us!  The Board of Trustees are also included in this mission! These character strengths tend to stay relatively stable over time. We can't purely base everything on the VIA  24 character strengths........ there are multitudes of strengths that we call on daily. 

Earlier this year, I was accredited in using strengths profiling. So far I have used this tool when working with a number of staff and colleagues. This tool looks at performance, energy and use and its dynamic - the results are expected to look different 12 months later. The aspect I enjoy the most with this work is the focus on energy. Nothing like finding aspects of your life a drag....... let's try and reframe that! The shadow side is, we all have strengths we call on, sometimes too much, which can become draining, ineffective or just plain annoying!

What's the big deal about strengths anyway?  Well it's not just a fad or a fancy biscuit to have with a cuppa. There is huge value when focusing on our own strengths and those of others. 

"Research shows that knowing and growing our strengths helps us feel energised and engaged. We learn faster, perform better and strive to do our best every day. We feel happier when we get to use our strengths in life or work, particularly when other people recognise and appreciate what we do well.

Our strengths are natural and authentic resources that represent what is good in each of us. They shape our character and our identity, influenced by nature, nurture, life experience and the urge to fulfil our potential; a fundamental part of who we are and grow to be as people. We feel intrinsically motivated to act on our strengths and get an energetic buzz that adds to our confidence and competence. We learn, persist and become more fulfilled over time."  Sue Langley

This Sunday we have a great opportunity to all use our individual strengths to work together to make the Worser Bay School Fair of 2018 really rock! Let's focus on doing what we do best - let's stay energised and engaged, appreciate each other, especially the Fair team who have done an almighty job. 

Kaitiaki o te Ao? You bet ya!

Please give it your all, and the Board looks forward to celebrating a great year of fundraising efforts the following Friday at the Chocolate Fish in Shelly Bay - Friday 16 November, 5pm - 6.30pm.

2 November 2018

posted 1 Nov 2018, 19:30 by Carolyn Brett

Last week I discussed the use and often overuse of technology in our lives. Although you will have differing expectations, some of you may be struggling in this area. Some years ago, one of our very tech-minded parents provided this list of their 'rules' which you may find useful.

Tech Rules - Parent to Parent

1: Laptop, etc, where you can see it + Key passwords with us
We are the parents, we don't let them leave the house on their own and so we don't let them wander around the Internet on their own.
 
2: Know the neighbourhoods they are visiting
We give them free access to the WBS known systems.
("school")
 
We give them access to the ones we are comfortable with.
("A home" + "their mate's place")
 
We get them to explain why for new stuff - "Because my mate is on it" is now known as a
("new part of town")
  
3: Screen time is screen time
TV + PC + mobile = the same thing.
Can do it any where, any time - yay OR boo! It's our job to manage it.
  
4: Keep safe, what does that mean online
"On the Internet no-one knows you're a dog"
 
Never EVER pass on your own name, address (Wellington), age or Parents bank account details.
AND never tell anyone the same about anyone you know (siblings, parents, family, friends ... anyone)
 
The key is what they do at their mate's house, not in yours.
  
5: Creative place 
Not just consumers but make it do what they want.
Blog, write, photo, video - the tools are there.


Here is another interesting article on moderation for children: "What screen time can really do to kids brains".

There was plenty of opportunity to contribute to being the kaitiaki of 'our place' and get a bit of physical and social activity happening last Sunday.

Thank you so much to the parents and children who came to the Working Bee and really got stuck in! You achieved so much in such a short period of time and the school will be looking on its way to being 'shiny' for the upcoming Fair! The Fair signs look terrific and are planted very strategically all around the place! I had a huge smile when I saw one venturing into almost...... Oriental Bay - our reach extends widely! There are still a few jobs to finish off. If you're interested in helping out, please get in touch with Dana Carter on 021 526 053. 

In anticipation of a big week before the grand finale on Sunday 11 November....... it will be the culmination of many conversations, physical toil, brainpower, connections....... and just plain hard work for a very mighty cause - our WBS kids!

Please make sure you also have the Chocolate Fish diaried for the following Friday! It's the annual Board "Thank You" to the community for all the hard work in fundraising - please come along 5pm - 6.30pm - Shelly Bay.  

26 October 2018

posted 25 Oct 2018, 16:15 by Carolyn Brett

"Come tramping with us", said our energetic, wilderness loving friends! 

So that's how we found ourselves embarking on a bit of a Labour Weekend adventure involving lots of hills, great views and the requirement of a growth mindset on multiple occasions!

I'd looked at the information about the track and thought I'd seen that there wasn't mobile reception at one of the huts. I could do that..... it's only for one night, I told myself - yes, doable. No sooner were we over the first large (and, I must say, very steep!) hill, I checked my phone and, yes, there it was "no service". In fact, it remained "no service" until we were nearing the end of the 3 days.  

The first day I did a bit of an inward mini panic, by the second day I'd relaxed into it and reminded myself that this is how my life used to be, by the third day I was actually starting to enjoy the fact that I was out of reach, it felt spacious. It was so interesting to reflect on how 'always on' I have become. The constant scrolling, the constant checking, the constant half listening for the ding or the ping, the quick responses, the brain always ticking..... no time to admire the beech forest, that's for sure!

How and when did that happen and how can I dial it back so I can still do my job well? The big question so many of us are faced with! I am not alone in this, that I know!

This reminded me of an article I read a couple of weeks ago by a health professional, paediatric physiotherapist, Julie Cullen, "Technology and our tamariki - are we getting it right?". Julie discusses some of the research that has been done in the last year about the use of technology in NZ schools and the effects of too much screen time. She also discusses the 'global push to moderate tech'. I recommend having a read as it's not just the screen time between 8.55 am and 3.00 pm. Some of our children have access from the minute they get home until they leave for school again the following morning. 

I believe we provide a good balance here. Many activities using screens are collaborative, it's limited time frames, there is plenty of action, talking and listening, inside/outside. Our curriculum is big and broad but it's always that tension with also making sure we are equipping our children for the future. As Julie Cullen says in the article, "Here in New Zealand, the time is right to become world leaders in the excellent use of technology in schools, and to find platforms to prepare our children to use computers as tools, while promoting safe use and balance both in schools and in the wider community".

This is a home and school issue. We will keep evaluating what we do at school, and let's make use of this summer term and its longer evenings to make sure our children are out and about doing some hands on physical exploring, getting close to nature and maintaining balance. 

"No service!"

19 October 2018

posted 18 Oct 2018, 18:32 by Carolyn Brett

Welcome to Term 4 and all the plans and happenings!

Over the holidays, the teachers have been working on the children's End of Year Reports (Autahi is on a slightly different cycle). These reports will be the same format as the Mid Year Reports. Having the opportunity for change, and after considering your feedback, we will be changing things up a notch in terms of the format and what we are reporting on in 2019. You will still receive clarity around where your child sits against expected curriculum levels in the 'basics' and, equally importantly, what they are achieving in so many more ways. You can expect to meet with the teachers in Weeks 7 and 8 (26 November to 7 December) and please watch the Newsletter for when the bookings open.

In this final term, we also focus on transition into new 2019 spaces. This means teachers are observing the children, the dynamics, understanding their learning progress and strategies that work/don't work for them and basically putting thought into the learning design for them. It's very much a term of head in 2 places (or 2 heads may be more useful!)!

Also in the holidays, we had Ximena and Nicola presenting at the biggest National Education Conference in our fair land - uLearn. 


They received such positive feedback about our work and thinking. We can be really proud of them. I especially want to recognise the energy and commitment they have for advancing our thinking about Mathematics. In fact, learning and good 'modern' practice in general.

This week we also had our new kapa haka teacher start! Every Thursday morning for an hour, Henare Parata will be here working with our children and staff. This is really great news as we have been on the hunt for a while! I witnessed his expertise first hand at another Wellington school and thought "we need some of that too, please"! He is very much in demand, but had a small space for us - this is exciting for us and fits our goals beautifully.

When we think about all that kapa haka involves, we also tick many of our Positive Education boxes - positive emotions, relationships, health, accomplishment..... it's so interwoven PLUS we are providing a greater insight into Te Ao and Te Reo Māori. If you are newer to the country and are unsure what kapa haka is, here is a resource that may be of interest.

There is plenty of community action happening too with the upcoming Working Bee on Sunday 28 October from 1pm to 4pm, and then, of course, the biggest fundraising event of the year - The School Fair!


Without all the hard work of all of you, in a decile 10 school which doesn't receive much Government funding like ours, we couldn't have kapa haka, we couldn't keep our teaching staff up to date and well supported, we couldn't send 3 of our staff off to uLearn and we couldn't improve our senior spaces (that happened over the holidays too). Check them out - very light and airy!

28 September 2018

posted 27 Sep 2018, 20:08 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 27 Sep 2018, 20:16 ]

He rangi tā Matawhāiiti, he rangi tā Matawhānui
The person with narrow vision sees a narrow horizon, the person with a wide vision sees a wide horizon.

In the final Newsletter for the term, a big thank you must go to our teachers and support staff  for the focus on a wide horizon! 

The term started with big lofty plans..... and those big lofty plans have been accomplished! We go into the holidays really pleased with what our children have achieved over these 10 weeks. That Arts Celebration was something special and, as we celebrated in a recent Assembly, this was a great example of student centred learning, nothing pre-packaged here!

Last week we had the Parent Workshop on Maths Learning. As I said, we are very proud of our Maths academic results. In 2017 a colossal 86% of our children were at, exceeding or well exceeding curriculum expectations in Maths for their year level. And we are tough on our judgments, as the reviewers from the Education Review Office noted in their feedback to us! But that doesn't mean we rest easy. We have never known so much about how students learn - thank you to the inventors of  MRI scanning technology.

All of our teachers are undertaking Maths professional development through Stanford University - focussed on the latest research and thinking in Maths education as to where and how you get the biggest shifts in achievement. The Board recognises the importance of ongoing teacher development and, as a consequence, Nicola was awarded a study grant this year, yes - you guessed it - focussed on Maths. Nicola and Ximena have also been selected to present at the largest national educators' conference ULearn these upcoming holidays, which we are really proud of. (And their session is booked out!)

So we were very excited to have the opportunity to share our ongoing learning and thinking with many of you last week. We started with a little activity - asking parents to simply answer this question:

BEFORE: What did Maths mean to you at school? (3 words)

Then at the end of the interactive workshops we asked this question:

AFTER: What does Maths learning look like for kids at WBS? (3 words)

Please find the first and second Word Cloud results below:




This was really great and informative feedback for us, and I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up on a screen in Auckland at ULearn sometime soon as part of a presentation!

If you couldn't make it, you may find this Jo Boaler Ted Talk interesting. Or What our Children Think.

I also realise that last week was a double whammy with the workshop and then many of you helping out again the next night at the Disco ...... and then this week some of you camping out at school for the Year 3 & 4 Sleepover. It is so very much appreciated - and thank you for your willingness to work with us to do the best by your child/ren in so many different ways. It's time for us to have a slight shift of gear for the next 2 weeks and look forward to a lively Term 4.

Please make sure you have diaried the WRAP on Thursday 13 December. This is where all families come together to celebrate the year, have a sing-a-long, bring a picnic and farewell our Year 6s in style. Plenty of water under the bridge yet - but it's a must do!

Sadly, Susie's WRAP was today - our aroha, kaha and manaakitanga travels with you to Christchurch, Susie. Go well and continue to flourish in the Garden City!

Hararei hari, happy holidays.

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.

SO:
  • 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!

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