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Updates from Jude

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

7 December 2018

posted 6 Dec 2018, 13:53 by Carolyn Brett

Here we are at the final 'full Newsletter' for 2018! You can anticipate a page of important dates and any last minute information next Friday.

These last couple of weeks are a bit of a whirl - with so much action on all fronts going on. I do think when a teacher comes here, the advertisement must scream in lights and loud hailers "overachievers only". I thank them for making sure they do the very best they can for our very fortunate children. If they haven't been squashed into a small space chatting with you about your child's progress, they have been donning wetsuits, cycling, getting out into the community, adventuring into the bush, at Capital E, at the City Gallery, building, painting, analysing data, meeting with the Board, organising Poetry evenings, pool trips, picnics, helping Year 6s with speeches and dinner organisation, sorting transition days and finalising all the planning for 2019, working on other secret things that you will find out about at the Wrap... (just saying!). I will have missed some things out for sure - it's been so full!

This couldn't happen with our fantastic Office staff for they are often the brain power behind the scenes, connecting dots, communicating far and wide, and getting all the information to the right people at the right time. Their heads are in piles of paper, figures, graphs, plans, names, lists, documents, timelines, calendars, payments... they are awash with information!

Christine, our Librarian, works Fridays.... or so she is meant to. Christine goes the extra mile whenever she can, and can often be seen dashing in and out on days that certainly aren't called Friday - just because she wants to.

Our Teacher Aides are supporting our children in the classroom, in the playground, socially, emotionally, physically and academically - focussing on the whole child. They have to be flexible, creative and care a good deal.

This week it's an ode to our staff. 

What they can achieve in terms of moving children along academically has been incredible this year! 40% of our target students made accelerated progress. This means that these target students' learning and progress show a noticeably faster movement towards NZ Curriculum expectations. You can look forward to our full report against curriculum levels in Reading, Writing and Maths in February - it's impressive! More than that - they inject fun in learning, are hugely focussed on their own growth and development, smart and creative... happy to model 'mistakes grow your brain' and support each other hugely.

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” -Voltaire

Thank you to the Worser Bay Staff. You make me smile (most days!). Please take plenty of  time out to stargaze after the 18th!

30 November 2018

posted 29 Nov 2018, 18:04 by Carolyn Brett

We had such a hilarious time last Friday at 'Worser Bay's Got Talent' show!

I was so thrilled to especially see some of our very young ones up there dancing, performing magic tricks, playing instruments......... with so much confidence! Student led without a doubt! Our senior students organised and ran the whole thing with aplomb! Give these children the opportunity and the waypower and they can totally deliver!

This is an aspect of this school that we treasure. Although our Year 6s have particular expectations on them as the biggest (and wisest!), all of our seniors have council roles, our juniors and seniors are whānau buddies for Rising 5s and a child of any age can lead Assembly. Leadership comes in many shapes and forms - leadership of paper recycling, leadership of gardens, leadership of sports' tournaments, leadership of games, leadership of playtime activities, leadership of lunches........ you name it, they do it! 

I am constantly told of the leadership our WBS children show well past their time here - at Intermediate, at Secondary... onto wherever life takes them. The most important thing, however, I would hope we instil is, first and foremost, leadership of self for "Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.” Lao Tzu

One of our biggest responsibilities is leadership shown on road patrol - the crossing of our people safely to the other side! We need your help with this as well - as you know we are situated on a corner site, with fabulous views and all the rest, BUT surrounded by dangerous roads and some very dodgy drivers. If road patrollers are not out for some reason (and our aim is that they/teachers are there), please make sure your child crosses safely and doesn't bolt out of the car door without looking and listening. 

Today was our final Assembly for 2018 and our next big opportunity to get together and witness some great self leadership is the WRAP as we have a sing along and listen to our Year 6s as they say their "Farewell Speech" to their community. It's such a great opportunity to share and celebrate the year together.

Bring your picnic and a cushion to sit on in the courtyard (better be a nice evening - no wind and a bit of sun, thanks!).

Hope it's diaried! Thursday 13 December from 5.30pm to 7pm.

23 November 2018

posted 22 Nov 2018, 16:46 by Carolyn Brett

We have had a bit of everything this week - rain, hail, sun and, at the stage of writing this, not a lot of wind!

In amongst the weather gods having a party, there have been multiple class trips going on and many more in the pipeline.

I congratulate our teachers and support staff for making such an effort in the last few weeks of the school year. We don't 'limp' to the finish line around here!

But what this organisation does take is a lot of documentation, pre-approvals, approvals, Risk Analysis and Management documentation, payments to work through, bus bookings, payment sorting, uploading on Kindo, checking payments and on it goes.......

I know what it will mean for you is multiple requests for parent help, multiple requests for payment and a large amount of information to digest. Please know, it will be worth it! Education outside the classroom "EOTC", "Learning without walls", "Ubiquitous learning", it's all the 'stuff' that happens out of the confines of Matariki, Māhutonga, Autahi and Tautoru. 

"EOTC programmes provide students with access to hands-on experiences that are not available inside the classroom. They offer unique and stimulating learning opportunities that support your child’s learning and achievement" (TKI, Ministry of Education)

Come on, weather, please help these stimulating learning opportunities to go as smoothly as possible!

On top of all the out and about, we are in the midst of signing off final written reports - in preparation for our communication with you as to your child's successes, progress and next steps. Please ensure you have booked a time (see Newsletter for more details).

The Year 6s are getting hyped with their speech writing - when they will be farewelling you all at the WRAP..... cupboards and shelves are being cleared and ready for some further sparkle and shine.... transition days into 2019 spaces are being finalised, we even have our final Assembly for the year next week, which is very hard to believe. You know when you get to the stage you don't know how old you are anymore? - it's officially arrived for me!

It's all go with a bit of help from a sense of humour and 5 finger breathing!

16 November 2018

posted 15 Nov 2018, 17:27 by Carolyn Brett

Last week I spent some time talking with the Year 6s about what their last few weeks at WBS might look like and how they might best 'give back' over this time. I reflected on how long I've known them - some since they were born - and now look at them! Ready to spread their wings and take another leap towards independence. The Year 6 speech is looming and they all made a great start on these. I'm starting to ponder what I would like to say to them come the grand finale at THE WRAP on 13 December. I always manage to get a bit choked up when I think about how far they have come, how much they have grown, learned and changed over their years here. 

One of the many fantastic things about the School Fair is the return rate of our 'old' pupils and their whānau. I love catching up with them and finding out about their teenage life! Quite different experiences from those at starting school. I always feel grateful that they want to connect and chat..... and still have that sense of belonging.

One of the most important things we can do is give these children in our care the skills to make good choices as they weave through life beyond #168. There was a piece in Saturday's paper on just this. "How to raise your kids to be confident decision-makers" - How parents can help their kids learn to make good choices. The key tips being:
  • Empathise, but don't solve the issue
  • Help your child listen to him/herself
  • Provide structure
  • Practice decision-making
  • Encourage reflection
  • Discuss learning to live with regret.
Let's think about how we can all encourage our children to make good decisions as early as possible, as it really will be up to them, not us, before too long.

Make a great choice to join us this evening from 5pm to 6.30pm at The Chocolate Fish to celebrate a fantastic 2018 of community.

If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

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.
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

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