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Updates from Jude

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

27 March 2020

posted 26 Mar 2020, 12:41 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 26 Mar 2020, 12:50 ]

For the last 2 weeks, what I have written in advance has had more relevance than I ever intended, but has most definitely required some tweaking at the last minute.

Very quickly, our staff have adapted to a new normal for a while and I hope we have provided you with plenty of opportunity already to keep engaged and 'whole'. It has made me realise how, although the team have families, we are too very much a family. We are totally together, connected and supporting each other. This means we can continue to give our best to our children and community.

When I wrote the piece below last Friday, I was thinking about Worser Bay School as one part of the bigger us, the wider community of schools - the Kāhui Ako. I certainly didn't realise that a few days later that 'bigger us' was going to mean so much.

Miramar North, Miramar Central, Miramar Christian, Seatoun, Lyall Bay, Hataitai, Roseneath, Kilbirnie, Kahurangi, Evans Bay Intermediate, Wellington East Girls College, Rongotai College along with a number of Early Childhood Centres and us make up the Motu Kairangi Kāhui Ako. This means we are all working together on the same priority areas and learning from each other as we go.

Whilst the formal agreement and funding is between schools, it is important, and we are grateful that we work closely as a Kāhui Ako with all of the Early Childhood Centres that link to our various kura.

You may be able to hear Worser Bay School coming through strongly in this plan (above). Especially with our focus on Sustainability of Culture, People and Place, Cultural Responsiveness/Te Ao Māori, and Wellbeing - our strong focus on Positive Education. It doesn’t happen randomly or by chance. It is based on what our curriculum data gathering amongst the schools is telling us we need to magnify knowledge and practice to enhance student outcomes.

We are fortunate that at our school are well down the journey already with all of this work. This allows an opportunity for some of our staff to also contribute plenty to the ‘greater good‘ as well as give their best to the Worser Bay School community. This is important in terms of their professional growth and I applaud them for their passion and commitment.

If you were at karakia a couple of Friday’s ago, you would have heard me mention the Year 4 bus trip to Camp and what a totally incredible conversation Suzanne witnessed 2 children having for the entire hour with ‘Uncle Sonny’, the bus driver. (Who I have since heard is known as the best driver in town, no less!)

The conversation ranged from the importance of Whetūkairangi, the wider peninsula, Tiriti o Waitangi, land wars, Kapa Haka... onto the women’s suffrage movement, right to vote..... and on it went! WOW! I could see those achievement challenges in neon, flashing brightly! This is when you know you are making an impact.

Often, in primary schools, a lot of the hard graft put in socially and emotionally........ isn’t realised until many years later. Sure, we have great results in terms of moving children academically and we can witness the academic progress more easily. And, we also know that in terms of life outcomes it’s the other ‘stuff’ which will take them over the line - the Self Control, Perseverance, the GRIT. That’s why our achievement challenges, as a Kāhui Ako, are also what they are.

Our last Parent Wananga - the Hikoi - the History Walk - was a huge success. We are looking at doing something a little similar next term. This time, walking and talking and getting deeper inside Inquiry Learning and its links to Sustainability. We will keep you posted as we see what the lay of the land is, literally.

So, that was last week, but the messages around Sustainability, Wellbeing and Te Ao Māori remain the same, and I'm sure you will see those shining through the learning opportunities we provide.

Right now, I am more proud than ever of how we implemented such a strong and evidence based Wellbeing/Positive Education programme many years ago. If you haven't had a chance yet, I really recommend this short video for parents about supporting our children's wellbeing at this time (and our own).

You may want to highlight Character Strengths. Here is a PDF of our own Character Strengths poster that you can look at at home and here is a link to the VIA site with more information about the Strengths.

As for me - well, I need to engage my top 4-5 now more than ever. 
Humour, Leadership, Love, Honesty and Creativity. 

(But not dial up tooooo far......... or my marriage may have a wobble!)

Parents - you may want to give the free survey a go? 

20 March 2020

posted 19 Mar 2020, 18:34 by Carolyn Brett

“Online World Preferred over work, rest and play”

I came across this article in the paper over the summer break and, although it mainly focused on teenagers, I felt aspects of it were relevant to us as well.

Netsafe commented that ⅓ of NZ teenagers are going without eating or sleeping in order to spend more time online and internet usage is a huge cause of conflict in families. The Netsafe director of Education and engagement, Sean Lyons, suggested that the whole family should commit to no technology at set times with parents/caregivers leading the way. He discusses helping children measure their online use.

Massey University Clinical Psychologist, Kirsty Ross, says it’s important to set predictable boundaries around devices “keep the technology out of bedrooms... get them to hand it in at particular times". She stresses that, despite children not being happy with limits, it is important to have confidence that this is the best parenting decision. I couldn’t agree more! 

Over 30 years ago when I started teaching, technology was one thing we didn’t have to worry about…... and a cost schools/whānau didn’t need to front! I’m not against technology but am certainly all for well managed use of technology to support learning, to enhance learning not just replace a pencil and paper! AND it makes it very difficult for the staff when we have children come to school completely attached to devices. (Bring back the cuddly blanket and soft toys instead!)

At school, teachers do their best to balance the amount of time spent on devices and, whilst it increases as the children move through the school, we are not wishing it to be excessive. Whilst senior children can bring their own laptop, phones are not a learning tool and are required to be handed in to the office at the start of the day and picked up at the end of the day if they are brought to school. We have policies, procedures, agreements and layers of firewalls and, and, and……. And, the best thing we can do as adults is be tough, consistent and model a balanced world. We need to encourage children to sniff the flowers, look up at the sky, get physical, talk, talk, talk......, take them for a bike ride, talk some more….. and not allow them to be shut in their bedroom on devices. I’m sure there will be a shortage of physiotherapists any minute now……

Right - well, I've pledged to turn everything off for a dedicated period of time on weekends and I’m sure I’ll feel much better for it in every which way!

Netsafe has good information for parents.

13 March 2020

posted 12 Mar 2020, 13:50 by Carolyn Brett

Mā te rongo, ka mōhio 
Mā te mōhio, ka mārama 
Mā te mārama, ka mātau 
Mā te mātau, ka ora

Through perception comes awareness 
Through awareness comes understanding
Through understanding comes knowledge
Through knowledge comes wellbeing

There are not many professions where you would be expected to be responsible day and night  in 24 hour shifts for others. This is why Camp is a big ask of staff and why not everyone offers or is able to commit to providing children with this experience. It's an experience we continue to embrace as we have witnessed first hand the delight of a child having a first time success, of getting over fear, of leading in an area they may not have before, of forming new relationships, of increasing their independence, of building rapport with teachers and parents in a different setting, of having a cool environment to explore...... the list goes on. All children bring something different away from a Camp experience with them, all grow in richness, all have a story to share. Some may appreciate home comforts that little bit more!

Once children get to overnight in Years 5 and 6, it is just a hop, skip and jump until intermediate and secondary school. A few more blinks and school life is over.  So, an overnight at this age is an important step - a rite of passage almost on their way forward.

Sitting behind all of this is a pile of risk management, safety plans, behavioural plans (for teachers!), health documents...... piles of information. It's a big exercise in itself, many hours of thought and preparation. Not every child will get the cabin they want, not every child will complete the activity they want, not every child will sail through the 3 days smoothly. This, after all, is good preparation for life! It's what we do when things don't work out that is a major factor in how we navigate. We do a lot of teaching about Optimism, Hope, Perseverance - GRIT. 

An expert on this topic, Angela Duckworth, has done a pile of research into GRIT and its connection with achievement. GRIT is what we want for our tamariki - so, as parents and educators, we need to watch them get things wrong, make mistakes, poor choices and bumble the odd friendship or two. It can be hard to watch but we must guide from the side for them to learn and grow........... and achieve.

Angela's Research:
"My research focuses on two traits that predict achievement: grit and self-control. Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals (Duckworth et al., 2007). Self-control is the voluntary regulation of impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005; Duckworth & Steinberg, 2015). On average, individuals who are gritty are more self-controlled, but the correlation between these two traits is not perfect: Some individuals are paragons of grit but not self-control, and some exceptionally well-regulated individuals are not especially gritty (Duckworth & Gross, 2014)."

You may like to try the GRIT test for yourself?

Here's to thinking about grit and self-control this weekend!

6 March 2020

posted 5 Mar 2020, 15:52 by Carolyn Brett

I’m very proud of the Positive Education journey that the school has been on over the last 6 or so years. If someone asks me what one of the biggest contributions I’ve personally made to the WBS whānau - this just may be it. It really does feel that, in general, NZ Education is just catching on to Positive Education and all that it brings. This is the place where the science of wellbeing intersects with good quality teaching and learning. It doesn’t replace academic learning, it’s an AND, a both. Our focus on and high expectations on our children making excellent progress against our targets in Reading, Writing and Maths does not falter.

Supporting teachers and children in developing strategies to support their own social, emotional, physical wellbeing surely must be an extremely valid outcome in its own right, aka a “no brainer”.

Over the break, I was contacted by the Times Education Supplement UK to discuss our Positive Education work as they were doing a feature article. I sat under canvas and clouds conversing with the Editor and I was thrilled to be able to share our highlights, challenges and next steps. (It has just been published this week and, although it’s come out as just a small sound bite, hey, we are still in there!!)

I also wrote a chapter, which some of the staff contributed to, for a NZ Positive Education book that is also due to be published, so you may well see WBS featured out there too, ...... so I hope it reads favourably!

We certainly haven’t arrived at an end point. I don’t think there is one. I am always learning, which means the staff are always learning……... which means the children are always learning. I’ve talked before about a balanced curriculum……. we know that this work around wellbeing is more important than it’s ever been. So this is an area of the curriculum that will permanently be burning bright.

Please have a read of our Positive Education Strategy.

I’d love to talk more with you, if you are interested, ……. I may not stop!

I have attached a copy of the article if you want to read more. Get your magnifying glass out for us!

28 February 2020

posted 3 Mar 2020, 13:42 by Carolyn Brett

This morning was a wonderful celebration of learning, of connection - past, present and future and of community. Thanks to our staff, parents and children for the passion and commitment to always deliver the goods! 
As a staff, we have been learning more about our links on the Peninsula to Taranaki Whānui and have been working on changing some of our practices to reflect new knowledge.
Last evening for those of you able to join us on the Hikoi had more of a chance to get inside this rich history. It's something that makes where we work and play that much better! Special thanks to John for leading this. Nga mihi nui ki a koe John mo tou matauranga.
If you couldn't make the Pōwhiri this morning, I thought I'd share my words again anyway.
Tēnā koutou katoa e te whānau o Whetūkairangi
E ngā rangatira, Mikayla,Teuila me Holmes Construction 
Nau mai haere mai ki te kura ahurei
Kei konei mātou hei tautoko, hei manaaki i a koe.

Whenever we gather here at an occasion like this, it’s with all the strength of the people who have come before…...  and there have been many before us, here at Whetūkairangi Pa and surrounds. I only realised recently that it was just over 50 years later that this school was built in 1897, the first school on the Peninsula, a very cute tiny rectangular building with paned glass windows housing 16 children and 1 teacher. These were the days when women staff members were not allowed to show their ankles! 

Fast forward and now………..

Now, almost 130 years later we find ourselves as kaitiaki/guardians of the site through an exciting new phase in its life.

If you are new to the school, you will soon become familiar with our references to the past, to our namesake, ‘stargazers’, and hopefully get excited about the rich history of the peninsula.

As Tane went through the heavens filling his ketes of knowledge, so will your child as they journey through our own heavens of Autahi, Tautoru and Māhutonga Matariki.

Tane had a call to adventure.

Your children, yourselves and all of the school community has had a call to adventure in 2020. A new decade, a new style of roaring 20s!

Like the story line in mythology, or any good story, we start with:

Part 1 - the call to adventure. Along the way, there are helpers and mentors, there are a few ordeals on this journey, there is more than likely an opportunity to experience a transformation over your time here. 

Our staff and many whānau have confirmed this notion of transformation and feel very bound to the school and what it represents for many years after they have moved on. My hope is that this is also a reality for you all.

I love this idea of great mythology expert, Joseph Campbell, and the hero's journey and seeing the big picture of dynamic movement….. not just event to event, thing to thing, date to date, sushi day to sausage day to pizza day!

None of us will always get it right along this journey - in fact, often there is no right or wrong….. and this is where we must always assume good intent for our home/school partnership to be rock solid. In the end, schools exist for the children and we need to do our best by them.

I’m a bit of a David Bowie fan - Like his song 'We can be heroes - just for one day’, if every one of us, children, staff and parents, ‘team builders’, could be a hero for one day - that’s at least a year's worth of hero-ing!

At the end of that, our school will be far more on its way of the property equalling the quality of what goes on inside. What a great start to the decade!

At the 100 year commemorations 23 years ago, local MP Annette King stated "..... this is a real neighbourhood school, inclusive, the glue, the children are winners in this supportive, cooperative and stimulating environment that promotes the balanced growth of each individual.” A quarter of a  century later - this hasn’t changed - it’s still the strong central philosophy - it’s our job to keep it so and keep adding flavour and spice and relevance to the future to this highly recommended dish!

Aesop, in his fables, was apparently the first one to use the phrase “United we stand, divided we fall”. United we must be!

No reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa 
On that note...
Kia pai tō rā whakatā

21 February 2020

posted 3 Mar 2020, 13:40 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 3 Mar 2020, 13:50 ]

Each year we set student achievement targets in Reading, Writing and Maths and also in other areas that we are wanting to focus on. This year, Wellbeing/Positive Education, Te Ao Māori  and Sustainability. These are the key aspects of our Strategic Plan. 

This doesn’t mean that all of the other learning areas are not valued or taught! The Arts, Social Sciences, Science and Technology, PE all feature strongly. It’s a balance in Primary Schools between integrating subjects and also having them as discrete entities. It’s interesting how many Secondary Schools are now adopting more of a Primary approach to make learning more meaningful. More and more, the Secondary timetable has become more flexible, integrated and students are getting more of a chance to delve more deeply into their learning rather than the bell ringing every 50 mins and rushing to the other side of the school to take part in a totally unrelated lesson. It’s far more real.

As educators, we need to think like nutritionists and ensure there is a good balance of  protein, carbs, fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals and water! Not to mention a colourful palette!

There are always new expectations - Computational Thinking, Financial Literacy, NZ History…... and, very recently, a big concern that “Arts Education is in a  crisis in NZ”.

So, here’s to a little bit of everything and also why we need to set the targets to also ensure there are key areas of focus where there are extra spoonfuls on the plate!

View our local curriculum.

View the NZ Curriculum which is the Umbrella document.

14 February 2020

posted 13 Feb 2020, 18:34 by Carolyn Brett

Nau mai, haere mai and welcome to an exciting new decade and the Year of the Rat! 

“Rats are clever, quick thinkers; successful, but content with living a quiet and peaceful life.”
Sounds ideal, but hopefully we won’t find any real ones on the Peninsula!

Like at the beginning of all school years establishing effective relationships looms big. This includes child-child, child-teachers, parent-teachers, parent-child-teachers - the triangle!

A huge body of research shows that relationships in a child’s life are like roots of a tree. When the roots are strong, the children can grow, they can thrive and weather the storms that may come their way. It makes perfect sense but it’s not always straight forward for everyone. 

I came across a piece on 5 key elements for Parents by the Search Institute in the States which I thought useful to keep in mind as we start this new year…..
  1. Express Care - The goal isn’t to have a ‘nice’ relationship, it’s to have a ‘developmental relationship’.
  2. Challenge Growth - Keep pushing and allowing for children to grow.
  3. Provide Support - Support doesn’t mean becoming a helicopter parent and taking away all opportunity for children to attempt something on their own and fail. The independence to make mistakes is important and then there is the need to have an adult to talk it through with and discuss what they might do next.
  4. Sharing Power - It’s not relinquishing power. It’s about giving children voice and choice appropriate to their age and stage and situation.
  5. Expanding Possibilities - Exposing children to things outside of their limited world view - new places, new people, new concepts.
They also had researched what works for staff when building strong relationships with children which I also thought was a simple process for the start of the year which I’ll be encouraging the teachers to use:

The Four S's
  1. Sparks - find out what sparks them, their passions
  2. Strengths - what are they proud of, their abilities
  3. Struggles - the challenges, what they are worried about or find hard
  4. Supports -  the people and environments that make them feel they can be themselves.
I’m hoping that by investing time in building relationships with children and each other we can help our children build those strong roots that can withstand the worst Wellington storm!

With Goal Setting Meetings very soon on the horizon, we can pull all of this information together and support the children to set goals that make sense to them - not too easy, not too hard, just right! (Please make sure you have booked by visiting:  www.schoolinterviews.co.nz/ and entering the Worser Bay School Code:  fjzgu by midday on Monday 17 February.)

In terms of further relationship building opportunities come to:
  • The first Parent Workshop/Wananga of 2020 - Thursday 27 February, 6.30pm
  • The Pōwhiri - Friday 28 February, 9.15am
  • Autahi and Tautoru Parent Workshop - Worser Bay School - Tuesday 3 March, 6.15pm to 7.00pm

13 December 2019

posted 12 Dec 2019, 18:31 by Carolyn Brett

Welcome to the final Newsletter for 2019.

The school year has a bit of a predictable pattern with layers of different flavoured icing. The last term always goes like the clappers and it’s also definitely a foot in both boot camps - completing the current and focused on the next.

We have had some total highlights this year. All of our children have progressed academically in the 3 Rs with some noticeable acceleration. This means they have made well over a year's progress in a year, no easy feat for the children, the staff and yourselves!

We have had numerous positive accolades about our WBS children’s conduct in the sports arena. Fairness, Teamwork, Perseverance and skills in abundance! That goes for all of the coaches and managers too! To hear our children speaking so articulately about different themes within our Positive Education programme has been a true highlight. With words creating worlds it is clear to me that our curriculum is having an impact - in the right direction.

Te Ao Maori - another of our Strategic Goals has also been highlighted in reporting processes, witnessed at Kapa Haka and shone brightly throughout the Year 6 Speeches. The Strategic Goal around sustainability is huge - sustainability of language, people, culture, place.... this is the one we want to create a more specific focused target around in 2020. I’m sure we will be seeking your help here! Plus, isn’t it cool that Miramar is on track to be the first predator free area in the World..... and we have been part of that from the start!!

The Year 6 Dinner - Thanks to the teachers for all being there to help out and join in the frivolity. The children and parents had a good night out!!

There is still a lot of merriment to be had at the WRAP and the Poroaki. Come along and be part of a school community celebration of people that have given so much over 2019 and reaped the benefits in doing so. Click on the links for the programmes.

Me mahi tahi tatou mo te oranga o te katoa
We must work together for the wellbeing of all

On that note, I wish you a great festive season and time to pause, breathe and smile!

6 December 2019

posted 5 Dec 2019, 17:30 by Carolyn Brett

Last Friday at the Year 6 Assembly, I shared the story of Winnie the Pooh and his friend Eeyore. Pooh says to Eeyore:

"You can't wait in the corner of the forest waiting for people to come to you, you have to go to them sometimes."

I was attempting to illustrate how things don't tend to just fall in your lap ....... you have to make the most of opportunities and give them a go.
I had noticed the word opportunities in pretty heavy rotation in the Year 6 speeches to date. (I will have to wait until after the Poroaki to hear today's 'batch'!)

It was fortuitous that before last Friday's Assembly we had received a lovely email from a previous student who had found out the evening before that she was to be Head Girl at her secondary school for 2020. She immediately thought to email to thank us for all of the inspiration and opportunities she had during her primary years at Worser Bay School. She went out of her corner of the forest in the juniors and obviously has continued to do so since. 

The old adage I often refer to 'children are like popcorn, they pop at different times' continues to be reinforced year on year when I hear stories about what children are up to now - and, hey, I'm talking since my first class in 1987! (Don't do the Maths!) It's my hope that with every child who enters our gates we have sown 'seeds of greatness' in all sorts of ways. It will never be the same way. 

Secondary Schools have been awash with prize givings and the like. In the last few weeks, I have heard of WBS children being recognised as academic scholars, talented sports people, outstanding musicians, actors and artists, orators....... not all children are awarded the big prizes but I sure hope they all have been more Winnie the Pooh than Eeyore.

We have less than 2 full weeks of the school year to go now....... but, in the meantime, I will end with a bit more of Winnie!

"What day is it?" 
"Today" said Piglet.
" Ah" said Pooh "my favourite day."

29 November 2019

posted 28 Nov 2019, 14:37 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 28 Nov 2019, 15:35 ]

Welcome to the final 2 weeks and 3 and a half days of school for 2019. Don't know about you, but I've noticed increased frenzy on the roads, frazzle in the shops and even a bit of pre-Christmas tension in Bunnings!

I don't know whether it's real or it's just what is expected at this time of year and we don't want to disappoint, we want to meet those expectations or, hey, even exceed them! Let's not! I am determined to breathe on through all of this and be optimistic that 'it' will all get done and all plans will come to fruition, that all events can go ahead because of stunning weather (?!) and we achieve all that we hoped to.

This is the week that Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) really stepped up a few notches, where final reporting sessions with teachers and yourselves continued, where those infamous Year 6 Speeches continued on, loved by everyone, some frivolity and merriment at the Poetry Evening, and where the transition programme started..... and..... and........ It's a total smorgasbord of opportunity to connect before we go into the summer break.

We have 2 whole school events to go this year:

The first is the WRAP. This year, there will be a host of musical delights, performances by every class, the orchestra, the ukuleles, the band and a chance for a couple of community sing-a-long songs. For those of you new to the school, everyone piles into the courtyard with a cushion and a picnic and has a bit of a party!

Then, the following morning, it's the community farewell to our Year 6s, whānau and staff leaving. There will be a bit of a bite and tea/coffee in the staffroom from 8.55am to 9.20am before we get seated for the Poroporoaki.

Yes, the calendar is bouncing. Let's approach it all with healthy degrees of optimism...... it's easy to join the frazzled, the frenetic and the fraught at this pre-Christmas time!

I liked this article in The Guardian last week - you may too!

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