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Updates from Jude

11 August 2017

posted 10 Aug 2017, 15:41 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 10 Aug 2017, 18:15 ]

Talk about thunderbirds are go! There are layers upon layers of great stuff happening out there! If you made it to Assembly last week, you would've witnessed an array of rather complex mathematical problems, some singing and grooving, some witty presenting...... a bit of everything to suit a range of tastes and maturity!

It's a bit like that here on a daily basis. We are dealing with so many different personalities, passions, strengths, needs - it's the word balance that comes most frequently to mind. A balanced mind, a balanced team or a balanced curriculum, balance within the community - yes, it's an important word!

Tōtika - Balance
Mahia i runga i te rangimārie me te ngākau māhaki
With a peaceful mind and respectful heart, we will always get the best results

How heartening it was to pull the Word Clouds together - thanks so much for contributing. Some of the information was processed straight away - like more notice for school trips, clarity about health and safety reporting. Some made us think about our messaging on Blogs, in Newsletters and the like - one asked for more Maths, another less PE. There were calls for thinking about before school care options, lobbying of government and more car parking. Some things we can action, others not so easy..... it's all good 'intelligence' and appreciated. 

Some feedback is more strategic - more long term and big picture around what's going well and we should definitely keep doing - The Sense of Community and The Whole Child - absolute stand outs!  What's also interesting is that some of the WWW (what's working well) also features big time in wishes for the future. So it's, yes, we like it and we want more of it, thanks!

You will find staff, parent and student voice (a lot also about food, swimming and the beach!) 

You will also find some very clear standouts about the Arts and Music especially.

Answer 1:  What is already working really well and we should definitely keep doing?

Answer 2:  What are your 3 main wishes for the future? What would you like us to start doing or improve?

I clearly see the word 'balance' all over the images.

Soon, the Board and staff will be getting together to check on our strategic direction. We will be using this information, plus what we know about best practice, what the research tells us, what the government direction is (let's wait!), what our student data tells us.... many pieces of the jigsaw.

4 August 2017

posted 3 Aug 2017, 17:09 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 3 Aug 2017, 17:12 ]

Our Student Wellbeing Parent Workshop is coming up fast on Tuesday 22 August at 6.45 pm.

Student wellbeing, or actually wellbeing in general, is being talked about, written about, thought about wherever we turn. Wanting our children to grow up resilient, adaptable, open to new experiences and feeling good and doing good has to be something we all want. It's not just a grab bag of feel good 'stuff' - there is a science behind this. 

Eighteen months ago we introduced what is known as Positive Education. “Positive Education is the bringing together of the science of wellbeing with best-practice teaching to enable individuals to thrive.” We are looking forward to sharing a bit of background, the model we use and some of the outcomes we have had with you on the 22nd. 

We will hear first hand from some children, get to experience some of the activities and a couple of our parents will also be linking this with life outside school. Plus, Board members will introduce you to our Online School Policy site 'Schooldocs', many of which link in some shape or form to student wellbeing.

I'm sure you will have plenty to contribute to the discussion. It's a great chance to chat about what you do at home already in this sphere and also learn from others. That's what a community is all about. Let's grow and work together to build a strong foundation where our children can flourish.

We aren’t making a choice between wellbeing or academic pursuits as there isn’t a choice to be made!

From IPEN - the International Positive Education Network

Hope to see you there. (Hope is actually a great predictor of wellbeing and performance!)

28 July 2017

posted 27 Jul 2017, 15:34 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 27 Jul 2017, 19:02 ]

Nau mai, Haere mai - Welcome back!

We are certainly looking forward to a great 10 weeks of opportunity! 

I came across a wonderful clip from 1950 during the break - all about how education was changing, becoming more focussed on developing curiosity and independence of thought... fast forward to 2017! Interesting! I'd suggest a viewing, we wouldn't consider some of these practices to be hygienic or that 'politically correct' these days, but the sentiments are very similar! 

What is considered good teaching practice has gone through many changes in the 30 years I've been involved in the business. As we continue to know more, as new research comes to light the emphasis on where to put the energy can change. What hasn't changed is the relationships teachers need with children and the necessity to 'know the learner'. 

For this to work, it's the relationships teachers also have with the learners' parents that are going to make a big difference. You know them best! 

In the first term we had the Goal Setting Meetings, last term we had the Progress Meetings, this term we have small group Student Led Conferences and next term the final Reporting on Progress Meeting for the year and another written report. (Schedules are a bit different in Autahi.) As well as these 4 formal times, we have a host of other opportunities to get to learn more..... some of these can also occur from the comfort of your own home or workplace via technology - Seesaw or Blogs, weekly Newsletters and website.

So, whilst some things seem similar to the archived film from 1950, the emphasis on parent involvement in children's education has most definitely moved forward.

We look forward to connecting in a whole smorgasbord of ways again this term and in the words of Milton Berle, "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door", in other words - if you need to chat, make an appointment to see your child's base group teacher - please don't wait!   

7 July 2017

posted 6 Jul 2017, 19:18 by Carolyn Brett

Here we are, the end of the second term of the year - half way through - plenty accomplished and plenty to come!

WOW! WOW! WOW! The Arts Celebration 2017! Can our children and their teachers put it on or what?! The thinking, the maths, the science, the technology, the creativity, the writing, the art! It was all going on. How privileged and grateful I am to be the leader of this extra-ordinary school, where everyone is committed to learning and growth, pushing boundaries and going the 'extra mile'.

Looking ahead to next term, we have some key events - Student Led Conferences....... a Wellbeing/Positive Education Parent Workshop on 22 August at 6.45pm, The Year 3/4 Sleepover, Eastern Zones Sports, Whanau groupings for another whole day event (which is always so interesting and we love!). Plus, a headsup about a Milk and Cookies night for Autahi children and parents on 6 September at 5.30pm and a Parent Connection Point for Rising 5s parents 30 August at 2.00pm.

There will be plenty of great learning opportunities within the context of POWER. Both the junior and senior teams are excited about their respective Inquiries and you can look forward to plenty in their Blogs and Newsletter pieces next term. The juniors are all about the body/science angle and the seniors finding power through their voice in terms of what they are passionate about. It's looking good and the depth and time that goes into the thinking and planning is immense.

Following on from "I am connected" and earlier "I am a goal setter"....., we now turn attention to "I am powerful" as the learner attribute which also doubles for Principal Awards. You can find out more about how all this fits within our curriculum here.

We are also looking forward to completing an internal evaluation on our maths programmes - so look out for more information in Term 3. There is a lot of new thinking and great thinking happening in the mathematics world right now. You may find this short article interesting. Jo Boaler is a bit of a favourite of our teachers!

We look forward to hosting a group of Auckland Principals and teaching groups from outside our immediate vicinity who are interested in how we work and the outcomes we  achieve for learners. 

The extra wonderful School Fair is hotting up and is always a community highlight. Please get involved - collaboration is one of our key principles at WBS after all!  Please remember you can find out more about fundraising here and here

There is another Disco to look forward to as well and I'm sure our Disco Hero is already working on the tunes!

Rust never sleeps on the school property front! There has been a lot going on behind the scenes. You can read a lot more about this in this Newsletter and expect a lot more from now as our building work is becoming more of a reality rather than a dream. Good things take time, they say, and what's that other one about patience being a .......... well... let's just leave it there! 

Speaking of property, as kaitiaki, the guardians, we would appreciate you all keeping an eagle eye on our place over the holidays, if you are up here. Feel free to grab something from the gardens too for a dinner accompaniment. The compost bins are about to get a makeover so we can anticipate the veges flourishing... in due course. Now they will be delicious roasted in the pizza oven and great power for the body!

Have a happy relaxed holiday.

30 June 2017

posted 29 Jun 2017, 19:03 by Carolyn Brett

Whakarongo ake au ki te tangi
a te manu e rere nei
Tūī, tūī, tūī, tūīa
Tūīa i runga, tūīa i raro
Ka rongo te pō, ka rongo te ao
Maranga mai Pūanga.
Maranga mai Matariki.

...... and what a wonderful day we woke up to on Monday, our special Matariki Celebration Day. The people kept coming, the food kept coming, the plants kept getting planted, the parents, staff and children kept on 'appreciating beauty and excellence'...... friends and parents helping out, guiding, sorting, cutting, sewing.... Stan Chan teaching Chinese painting (thanks to the Asia NZ Foundation for supporting this), nephews reading, daughters supporting...... this was a true community event in every which way and we loved it! 

On days like Monday, our school really puts itself up and out there for all the things we hold dear and what we believe we do well. The big three being:

1. The whole child
2. Knowledge building and inquiry
3. Collaboration

It was all happening on so many levels. Next week, we step things up another gear with the Arts Celebration scheduled for Tuesday 4 July and Wednesday 5 July. Come on either day, anytime between 5pm and 7pm.
The timing is important, so please don't come any earlier than 5pm, it won't be accessible, doors will be closed. It's too hard for the people putting the works up, they need space and no interruptions or distractions.

Once again, our staff will push limits to give the children a great experience. I see that Sir Ken Robinson (one of our favourites) has a new book out "Creative Schools - the grassroots revolution that's transforming schools". It's on order and you can anticipate hearing more about that some time soon. In the meantime, if you are new to the Sir Ken Robinson world, I would strongly recommend checking out his Ted Talks for a start. He has very clear ideas about education and his definition of the overall aims of education is: 

"To enable students to understand the world around them so that they can become fulfilled individuals and active compassionate citizens.

Now, that's hard to disagree with!

Look forward to seeing you enjoying a wide array of 'action on inquiry' through art and an element of appreciation of beauty and excellence on Tuesday or Wednesday evening next week. 

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!

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