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Updates from Jude

22 September 2017

posted 21 Sep 2017, 18:02 by Carolyn Brett

Yesterday was International Gratitude Day. So, it's very timely to send gratitude to all of our parent volunteers hard at work raising funds, pulling people together and hopefully managing to find some space to also enjoy contributing. I read something just this morning which is poignant. It was the description of giving being a selfish act - which may seem strange at first. But the thinking was that you gain so much more, as an individual, when you give. A bit of food for thought for a Friday! 

We have a few weeks of next term before Sunday 12 November is upon us and the WBS Fair of Legends reigns supreme! Hot on the heels of this major community effort, the Board invites all whanau who have supported the school in the way that best works for them to come along to:

The Chocolate Fish, Shelly Bay
Friday 17 November,  5pm - 6.30pm

This has been a great way to mix and mingle and celebrate together over the last couple of years. We can't guarantee the same beats or visuals like the stand out 80's Disco last Friday, but the atmosphere 'down by the sea' and the fact that children are easily occupied while you can have a well earned refreshment, makes it a great venue in itself!

On Wednesday we celebrated Character Day. The whole school worked in whanau groups of mixed ages and some of their learning around character strengths was shared in Assembly this morning. Remember to check out our Positive Education tab on the website to refresh what, why and how!

Additionally at this time of term, one week to go, reporting... sleepovers... holidays looming... work piling up... to do list lengthening... it is the time to be more deliberate than ever. "How will I use my top strengths in new ways today?

You may then find that the final week of term travels on calmer waters!

15 September 2017

posted 14 Sep 2017, 19:55 by Carolyn Brett

Lately, I have been reflecting on the depth of conversations I have with the teachers about student learning and the way in which we go about inquiring into practice - what's working for whom and how do we know? There are a lot of questions, there is an evidence base and research required and there is the expectation that 'we think like scientists' (even though we work in a people and relationship based industry).

When the teaching staff completed the VIA Character Survey - it is not surprising that we are heavy on the love and kindness strengths! It's hard to work with small people en masse if you don't have a decent dose of both, I guess!

Perseverence and Judgement needs to be brought to the forefront when teachers are going through their inquiry cycles. These are known as 'teaching as inquiry cycles' or TAI in our world of acronyms. At the moment, we have had a heavy focus on maths. Teachers all are undertaking an individual TAI into their maths practice. Over the last 2 weeks they have been observing each other and coaching on next steps and sharing their findings from their inquiry to date with the whole staff. This also links into appraisal processes. 

Underlying our teacher inquiries, we have a focus on girls' achievement in maths and movement from at to above..... through a variety of means!

We have some great new thinking in the maths world which is starting to have an impact on our programmes. You may be interested in reading this article What is Mathematical Beauty? It's excited us!

Expectations are certainly different from 1987 when I started my career and was pretty much left to my own devices..... for years, in fact!

Speaking of the '80s, see you rocking down in Miramar tonight! That's also excited us! Thanks to the Disco King and the crew for what will be another evening of great fun for our tamariki (and many parents!)

8 September 2017

posted 7 Sep 2017, 18:42 by Carolyn Brett

Our Year 6 Leavers' Profile:

Our Year Six students leave Worser Bay School connected, curious and confident thinkers.

When our children arrive in Autahi, they have come from a range of Early Childhood experiences. Over the next 6 years we will work with you to give them a vast array of opportunities to support them to leave in Year 6 as connected, curious and confident thinkers.

Over the years, some of us who have been in this profession for a long time come across adults who we have taught who are doing some incredible things. Sometimes we may not have recognised this potential when they were at primary school, sometimes we are surprised, always we are proud.

Something I have been working with the teachers on is 'to think like scientists' - observe, listen, gather information carefully, search for the 'seed of greatness' in every individual. Then we must nurture that seed to enable growth.

I come back to metaphor of the sailing boat again and again - from Robert Biswas-Diener's work.

Visualise a small sailing bobbing around in Worser Bay.
This boat has a small hole in it - if we don't 'plug the hole', it is likely to sink.
However - it has a terrific sail billowing in the breeze.
The strengths are in this sail and provide the direction.

We have to pay attention to both.

(If you are interested in finding out more about Robert's work - plenty of his TED TALKS are here.)

Student Led Conferences are coming up for most children soon. Let's all observe and listen 'like scientists' as they discuss their achievements. Let's search for the 'seeds of greatness' so that we optimise the opportunity to leave at the end of Year 6 a connected, curious and confident thinker.

1 September 2017

posted 31 Aug 2017, 20:14 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 5 Sep 2017, 17:41 ]

Last Tuesday all of our teaching staff around half of our parent community and even some of our 'yet to officially start' parents had a great night out!

The Wellbeing Workshop lived up to its title in so many ways. Your feedback continues to come rolling in and I'm pleased it wasn't just me who was all hyped up about it!

For those of you who couldn't make it this week, I am going to do a quick summary of what was covered and also very soon we will have a dedicated 'Positive Education' section on the website that we will keep adding to..... so you can get up to / keep up to speed. Plus the Class Blogs always have plenty of 'Pos Ed' news.

The rundown:

Music - to evoke positive emotion
Breathing - to promote positive health
Mixing and Mingling BINGO activity - to encourage positive relationships
A little experiment to highlight 'the Power of the Question' and how questions can determine the reality.

About 5 years ago I asked the question "How can we build greater resilience in our children?". This created my reality in terms of intensive study for 2 years in Positive Psychology and, later, what this means in a school setting, Positive Education. "The science of wellbeing combined with best practice teaching" - I stress the word SCIENCE. 

I shared an excerpt from the Prime Ministers Chief Science Adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman's very recent discussion paper concerning youth suicide, a sobering read. I highlighted his concern that children are too protected from 'emotional stress and aren't prepared for the risks and rigours of adolescence'. I highlighted the piece about changing context of a young person on Page 1.

This is not a choice, an addition or a nice to. Primary Schools (and ECEs) must get on board!

For the last 18 months or so, I have been leading the teachers in the learning, encouraging the living part...  (I mentioned, it's actually work!) and they have been engaged in the teaching - now it's the embedding firmly within the culture of our community. 

We know from your feedback that you are on board, it isn't a hard sell - that many of you are working on aspects already. This focus at WBS on the Whole Child is very alive and well.......... well! It is important for us to be continuing to ask the right questions, be deliberate about the language we use...... learn from what works in our quest for our children to become resilient teens and, one day, adults.

After all - one of my well worn quotes:

"The words you speak become the house you live in" (Hafiz)

We shared some of the work we have been doing with the children in the form of a movie:


We also introduced some live children! Janne, Elliott, Yoshi and Hadley gave first hand accounts of growth mindsets in Maths and also Kaizen goal setting (small incremental, manageable steps).

The teaching staff ran a series of hands on activities that introduced parents to our model of Positive Education which comes from Geelong Grammar School. We know this is heavily researched and based on science - not a grab bag of "do these 5 things and you will be amazing and all of your problems will disappear!" 

Once again, I stress the word Science

We were also very fortunate to have 2 of our parent community supporting our work in this field:

Natalie Hogg:

When I was at school in Ireland a “whole child" education was one that incorporated music, sport AND academics. The development of resilience and psychological wellness was certainly not part of the fabric of the education system. Now I work as a Clinical Psychologist in health and sport environments. I often see clients with immense talent and ability who have yet to realise their potential due to this lack of psychological resilience and wellness.

At the same time, I have watched my twin five year olds embark on their first year at Worser Bay School with both excitement and trepidation. I have a firm belief that my role with them is as much about developing their ability to be connected, to find ways to cope with challenges, and to find ways to achieve their goals, as it is about reading, writing and arithmetic!

It is so easy to become overwhelmed by parenting advice flying at us from all angles. The all-knowing Google will always produce some blog to support any and every parenting approach we care to search for. So how do we choose which line to take? Well, the research into psychological wellbeing strongly supports mindfulness approaches, growth mindset philosophies and the development of psychological flexibility. What is so important about the positive education approaches that have been introduced at Worser Bay School is that they are grounded in this evidence.

What a great opportunity we have to provide our children with consistent approaches across the school and home environments. Thank you to Jude and all of the teachers for the wellbeing session. It was wonderful to be introduced to very practical and fun strategies which we can easily use to support our children through their early lives and beyond.

Nathan Price:
  • The area of mental wellbeing had gained significant momentum over the last 5 – 10 years and the same is true in an elite and professional sporting environment. In professional rugby one of the concepts we refer to is mental fitness – we want our players to be mentally as well as physically fit, so we ensure we work on areas such as resilience, adaptability, grit, as well as building some of the protective factors that we can call on during times of high stress or pressure.

  • Some of the techniques our professional players use are:

    • Mindfulness: Our All Blacks and other professional Rugby players get taught mindfulness. This is a great way to calm the brain stem, reduce stress and re-focus, there are great apps available for this.
    • Gratitude: Being grateful is a great way to change the way you think – teaching your brain to scan for the positives instead of the negatives has a huge impact on your mood. Some of our players use a gratitude journal which we have made available, where for 21 days they write down 3 things they are grateful for. This is great for resilience and positive thinking as well as your mental health. There is evidence of this happening at Worser Bay through the gratitude trees.
    • Learning to fail: Success is a lousy teacher. By learning to fail, and accepting that, we build resilience and learn alternative ways of completing tasks. It is important that we as parents are OK with our kids failing and making mistakes. Quote from Michael Jordan "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
    • Problem solving: We teach our players how to solve their own problems, sometimes we live in a very structured life, so to empower people to solve their own problems is great for resilience, adaptability and self-esteem.

  • The Government has recently allocated 100 million to mental wellbeing initiative including wellbeing programmes in schools

  • I also briefly touched on the importance of parents looking after their own wellbeing which included, making time for the things you enjoy, spending time on important relationships, giving back/community service, laughing/humour, having meaning and purpose, exercise and gratitude.

  • The Board believes that Worser Bay are ahead of the curve in terms of the focus they place on our children’s wellbeing – which was certainly on show last week and we are 100 percent supportive of the focus on the whole child.

Additionally, the Board introduced our SchoolDocs - online policy tool. You can find out all about that here.

As I said, we will have more material under a dedicated page ready to roll soon. Thank you for being so engaged and keen to learn together.

In appreciation to the teachers who really did a tremendous job with all those rotations well into the night!

18 August 2017

posted 17 Aug 2017, 21:04 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 17 Aug 2017, 21:10 ]

Last Thursday we had a large group of Principals visiting from the Eden/Albert Cluster in Auckland. They were specifically coming to chat about and observe our curriculum in action. It was a wonderful opportunity to share what we are up to and discuss big ideas and new thinking about learning. We found it both motivating and challenging - that's a good thing!

Our children did us very proud! The mihi whakatau was brilliant. Our manuhiri remarked on how much noise could come from a small group! The haka, the waiata, topped off by a confident karanga, was all child-led, and lead they did! 

With one big powhiri / formal welcome happening just the once a year, we have been looking to create a new welcoming ritual for groups visiting through the year for some time. We now have it confirmed! Thanks so much to our senior students, John and Suzanne for creating yet another specialty!

The Principal group commented on the school culture, the atmosphere, the sense they had of relaxation and calm, the confidence and most of all happiness - yes, our children 'look happy'. That goes a long way! I guess it wasn't a surprise when we reflect on the Word Clouds and what you recognise is working well and we don't want to lose. 

Please come to the Student Wellbeing Parent Workshop at 6.45pm on Tuesday 22 August in Tautoru (more details below). Learn with us as we continue to find ways to build resilient children.... who will one day...... become resilient adults.

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. 

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