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Updates from Jude

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:

See
  • the variety of ways the school and community interact
  • dynamic teaching and learning programmes
  • key competencies in action
Hear
  • excitement in the classroom and students supporting each other
  • parents understanding their child’s learning and achievement and how to best support them
Experience
  • 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. 

17 March 2017

posted 16 Mar 2017, 13:56 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 16 Mar 2017, 14:41 ]

Core Education is a large NZ education consultancy. We had one of their educators, Mark Osborne here a couple of years ago to run a Parent Workshop about 'future focused education' and why the need to change direction from 'when many of us were at school'. Sir Ken Robinson, who you will find me often referring to, sums many of these ideas up in this 10 minute chat. I really encourage you to push play and have a listen if you haven't seen it before.

Every year Core pulls together a whole lot of research and provides a list of the top ten trends that are expected to make a growing impact upon education in New Zealand in the coming year. Here's the list from 2016:
Education is a moving feast. Everyone has an opinion. It's going to be very interesting in the lead up to this election as to where education sits in the mix. It's sure to be a hot topic, that's a given. Wherever the direction heads next, we need to be flexible, yes, but also determined to keep the school community's vision and the 3 key principles for our children - valuing the whole child, knowledge building and inquiry, and embracing collaborative learning as the touchstone for all decision making.

10 March 2017

posted 9 Mar 2017, 13:01 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 9 Mar 2017, 15:37 ]

Last Friday I had a self appointed deputisation arrive in my office at lunchtime. They were unhappy about a game of 'tag gone bad'. Rightly so too! In light of all of our focus on 'filling buckets', using character strengths and being 'powerful', I decided to use these as a basis for the discussion.

What was very interesting was that the entire conversation was turned on its head. The children involved discussed the strengths they and others could engage when a situation like this arises again, what was possibly being underused and or overused and how they and others could address things differently another time. In the end, the group talked of a greater need for fairness, honesty and self control. I was impressed.

Over the last 2 years or so, we have had a big emphasis on building strengths and using these to support the areas children find more challenging. You will have also seen this in action at the recent Goal Setting Meetings. This emphasis on wellbeing or what is also known as Positive Education is part of developing 'the whole child'.

This week I will be presenting our work at a Conference in Christchurch. The intention is for us to have another Positive Education Day per term as a whole school, to accompany what is happening regularly within the class programmes. I would love to share more about my study and the work we are doing at this time too...... it's a fascinating field! This short article will give more insight and here's a great one for parents about developing children's strengths.

3 March 2017

posted 2 Mar 2017, 16:28 by Carolyn Brett

I love the New Zealand Curriculum! 
I especially love our own Worser Bay Curriculum!

All state schools follow the National NZ Curriculum but develop their own local curriculum that fits with the desires of the community, needs of the children and 'place'.

The stunning Powhiri last Friday was a great example of our curriculum in action on so many levels. 'We are powerful!'

I came across an article in the Guardian recently which resonated and reinforced how fortunate we are to have the opportunity in New Zealand to provide rich learning experiences for our children.......

"...it’s not a matter of high-tech or low-tech; the point is that the world a child enters is rich and diverse enough to ignite their curiosity, and allow them to discover a way of learning that best reflects their character and skills."

To read the whole article, and I encourage you to, please see below:

"In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant." By George Monbiot

It's not always easy in this climate. You may have seen the article on schools' funding this week:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/89716828/school-budgets-have-increased-so-why-are-so-many-principals-struggling-to-make-ends-meet

As a community we need to model all of those skills we are wanting to develop in the children. We, too, must be confident, curious, creative thinkers when it comes to how we manage ever decreasing government funding and do the best by the children who are here now. We also know that "It's what teachers do minute by minute that has the biggest impact on achievement ....." 

Teachers need the professional learning opportunities and adequate resourcing to ensure those minutes are quality!

Our fundraising calendar will be online soon once a few more energetic and keen to contribute parents are assigned! If you would love to be more involved and aren't sure how, please contact your ParentNet Rep.

24 February 2017

posted 23 Feb 2017, 17:49 by Carolyn Brett

In 1988, almost 30 years ago, David Lange, New Zealand's Prime Minister at the time, launched “The Reform of Education Administration in NZ – Tomorrow’s Schools”.   

This meant that the Education Department, Education Boards and School Committees were replaced by an autonomous Ministry of Education, Education Review Office and a Board of Trustees to govern each school and also a change of role for Principals.

These changes have certainly meant greater responsibility, but it has also allowed for greater influence in the direction that parents, Boards and staff have on the school's unique 'flavour' and the types of learning experiences based on the children's needs and also the resources available. 

The truly wonderful Powhiri this morning is a wonderful example of one of the aims of this reform - we are talking about the Worser Bay School Community. Yes, we are all stargazers! We must travel through the heavens, like Tanenui i te Rangi retrieving the three ketes of knowledge together. 

From our Curriculum Document: 

"The home/school relationship is a very important feature in how we facilitate children’s development. There are many opportunities for parents to learn alongside their child, come along to Parent Workshops, and deepen understanding of the rich learning opportunities that are provided. We encourage parents to get involved in planning, to share expertise and to support inside and outside the learning spaces too. We expect to work in partnership with parents, sharing information freely and respectfully. Together we can provide optimal conditions for student success."

So, thank you for coming to the Family Picnic, for joining Karakia, for helping out with learning, for goal setting, for making an effort to come to the Powhiri and meet new whanau - the "Welcome to Our Learning Space" morning is coming up fast too. It's not always possible to find the time, but, when you can, it will be worth it!

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