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Updates from Jude

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

8 December 2017

posted 7 Dec 2017, 17:44 by Carolyn Brett

Welcome to the final Newsletter of 2017..... next week expect a shorter version - more of a list of 2018 dates to diary and any final 'wrapping it up in a big bow'.

On Monday night the Board and staff got together to celebrate the year and, more specifically, the achievements of our children over the year. 

We certainly kept 'the whole child' in mind and also paid heed to achievement against the National Standards. Even though we aren't sure what will be happening with National Standards in the future, there have been pluses since their introduction - in terms of the rich conversations we have about learners, about progressions and about expectations.

Here is what out children think:

As this states - What you focus on flourishes and this is very clear......... all of the areas mentioned by our children have been central to the programme this year. This reminds me of the quote "It's what teachers do moment by moment that makes a difference" and a difference they have!

When I got home from the Board meeting on Monday, my ever patient 'other' was waiting with a cup of tea at the ready. He said "You always say, it's the best year yet!" I pondered this for a while and agreed, yes, I do always say it, and it's true. Each year does get better and better - and it must, for there is no option!

We can't get better and better, however, without our children, our Board and our community being central and us all learning and making sense of this thing called education together.

I'm looking forward to catching up with some of you at the Year 6 Parent Drinks on Tuesday at 6pm and then many more of you, hopefully as many as possible, at 'The Wrap' on Thursday at 5.30pm where we celebrate 'the best year yet' together.

01 December 2017

posted 30 Nov 2017, 16:28 by Stephanie Williams

Kia ora e te Whānau o Whetūkairangi

From the beginning of this final term of a school year, our heads are very much in 2018. We want to 'hit the ground running!' and try to limit what is called the 'summer effect' on student progress.

As a whole school community, we need to constantly review what we can do differently to improve learning. This includes the teachers, leaders, whānau and the learners themselves. I think this is one of the biggest changes from 'back in the day'. The children, our learners, need to be insiders to their learning, it's not done to them and it's not a secret!

Teachers have spent a good part of this term analysing progress and achievement in Reading, Writing and Maths. You have been part of the conversations when you attended the Progress Meetings recently and received a written report. (A slightly different cycle for Autahi!). These conversations amongst the staff also include groups of students - whether it's gender, ethnicity, cohort... which groups are progressing as expected? which aren't? if not, why not? and what are we going to do differently? This forms the basis for Teacher Inquiry and Professional Learning in 2018.

When we look at our data, it's interesting to look at trends over time, at the national picture and international studies too. Some of you may have seen an article this week titled "Kiwi girls outperform boys". It makes interesting reading and also reinforces why we have such a strong focus on Positive Education and the whole child as "The report recommended schools support both boys and girls who have trouble forming healthy, positive and mutually supportive relationships with others".

We will be confirming our achievement targets for 2018 soon and look forward to sharing them with you at the beginning of next year. It's very much a wind up to the end of the year in this place and then we will be able to enjoy long summer days, safe in the knowledge we have done the best job we can.

I'm thinking we will see plenty of you in and around school in the next few weeks - whether it's helping out in a multitude of activities..... Enviroschools Meetings, Year 6 Parent Drinks, Dinners, Teddy Bear Picnics, Farm Trips, Poetry Evenings, Bush Exploration, Sausage Sizzles..... Beach Week, Duathlons...... remember to eat and sleep!

Ngā manaakitanga

24 November 2017

posted 23 Nov 2017, 17:24 by Carolyn Brett

If you have been in Assembly or came to the Wellbeing workshop, you will have no doubt come across the children discussing the concept of 'kaizen' in terms of goal setting. It can also be located in plenty of Blog posts and no doubt some Seesaw entries!

When we look at our school over time , we can see many examples of this incremental and ongoing improvement. I came across this example of kaizen being discussed recently by a company who design beautiful kitchen tools of all things!

"Do you feel your knife designs are always evolving?

The concept of ‘Kaizen’, continuous improvement, influences everything we do. Our goal is to make each knife as the best knife that we can make. In this way, we are constantly refining our knives and constantly evolving.

I don’t ever want to get to a place where I am perfectly happy with what we do, it will mean that I’ve lost the ability to push this craft to the next level."

I relayed this example to the staff as, although our 'craft' is most decidedly very different, we too are constantly refining our practices and constantly evolving.

The Transition Programme in Term 4 is a great example of this. If I look back a few years, this process was fairly quick and minimal. Teachers discussed children in detail with the following year's teachers, but the conversations were more hard data based - not necessarily focussed on the whole child.

We moved onto transition days, then weekly transition sessions which were mainly observing the social and emotional side - now it's very much focussed on the 'whole' and, this year, also including parents who are able to come and connect as well.

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher of the late 6th century BC, of Ephesus (one of my favourite places!) said, "You cannot step into the same river, for fresh waters are flowing in upon you".

I love this, as this is exactly the way we need to respond to our learners' needs, fresh waters are definitely flowing as they grow and develop across their time with us. 

We had a Board member a few years ago who enjoyed using the word 'nimble' - I think of her every time I now say it - and agree - for this is what our children need the adults in their lives to be, especially as they transition into new spaces - agile, flexible and quick thinking!

17 November 2017

posted 16 Nov 2017, 17:42 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 16 Nov 2017, 17:57 ]

Well, the Fair of Legends is behind us, and legendary it totally was. 

The atmosphere was tremendous and to observe the community pulling together so tightly to do the best job possible is difficult to put into words that give it justice.

At our staff meeting on Monday, we had a bit of a chat about what a great day the Fair was and also how when we arrived at school the next day it was impossible to believe there had been all of those people inside and out, with bulging bags and smiling faces present. The rooms were 'normal', the grounds spotless and I even noticed that the Fair Signs were down as soon as it was a done deal. Remarkable work on all fronts! Talk about great role modelling for our tamariki!

I know the team will have already started thinking about the successes and having brainwaves for the future (not too many this week maybe!). Similarly, in terms of learning, we always need to keep looking down the track and keep things relevant and aspirational. A few months back we checked in with whānau, staff and children as to what you absolutely loved about the school and wanted to keep, and also areas for improvement. You have seen the outcome of this in the form of the 'Word Clouds'.

From here, we could see that some of this was put in the bigger 'strategic direction pot' and other items will be featuring in the 2018 Annual Plan. We have our vision, our values, our principles and have now redeveloped our Strategic Goals too! This can all be found in our Curriculum Document, including the current Strategic Goals.

If we think of a New Entrant starting in Autahi today........ what big picture goals will support them to leave in Year 6 as connected, curious and confident thinkers?

Draft Strategic Goals 2018-24

We are committed to:
  1. Educating for the future
  2. Providing rich and powerful learning opportunities
  3. Connecting learners
Underneath these, fit various layers, illustrations and diagrams still in early formations, still incomplete.

What do you think of these for big picture goals? Can you see your child/ren reflected in these? Any thoughts please get in touch before December is upon us.

Hope to see you tonight at the Board 'Thanks to the Community' for all the support over 2017:

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

This is a 'family friendly' event. The Board will supply platters for adults. Drinks for adults and drinks/food for children can be purchased by parents.
The forecast is looking good! Plenty of room for children to play, parents to mingle and a great opportunity for us to thank you for your energy!

10 November 2017

posted 9 Nov 2017, 16:07 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 27 Nov 2017, 16:22 ]

A note of gratitude on behalf of the staff @ WBS:

Dear parent volunteers

This weekend we have our Fair of Legends - that's the one 12 November 11-2, rain or shine! I very much recognise the many hours of thinking, discussing, planning, deliberating and just plain hard physical work that goes into this 'biggest fundraising event' in the life of the school. 

Many of you are also engaged in monthly pizza making, weekly sausage sizzling - donning the apron wind, rain, sun or out in the freezing cold. There are our discos - what a hit they have been this year! On the dancing, fun and frolic front, the Ceilidh must be highlighted - the great thing here is the crew this also attracts from wider than 'just us'.

We had some new initiatives this year too - the eco soaps and the very cool hoodies. Our incredibly high percentage of families who pay voluntary contributions (this actually combines to over half our fundraising budget !), plus those who provide generous extra 'donations'........... for the benefit of all.

The gift of time is precious. 

The helping in the classrooms and EOTC events, the sports managers and coaches, the parents keen to help out with our environmental focus, our languages and fab events like 'Grow your Mind Day' and 'Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence' - keen to be in the mentor seat.

The enthusiasm to find out more about teaching and learning - the massive turn out to our Wellbeing workshop, learning treasure hunts, reporting, SLCs........... mini workshops, celebrations.

The time you take to let us know how things are going for your child, to work with teachers to do the best by the children, the thought and care you put into families in the community in times of need, the general 'mucking in'.

Our Parent Net reps, our people people, our networkers, our Board Members, our get our tools out and 'fix its', our designers, our printers, our doers.....our bakers.....our 'silent partners' who just actually go and do things....... silently!

I certainly feel, and I also know this is echoed from the staff, grateful to work in and be part of a community who understands the importance of contributing and why, in a school 'like ours', we can't move forward without this energy and drive from our parent volunteers.

So, in anticipation of a massive weekend ahead, please know that the WBS staff thank you all for all that you will do this weekend and have done all year in all the rich and varied hues.

We look forward to working alongside you this Sunday and the Board looks forward to inviting you to celebrate and thank you:

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

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Aim for the highest cloud so that if you miss it you will hit a lofty mountain


What 25 Experts Say About – Empathy, Social Emotional Learning, Mindfulness

I am familiar with the work of a few of these speakers, who are all very highly regarded - you may want to check this out!

3 November 2017

posted 2 Nov 2017, 18:16 by Carolyn Brett

When you have been 'in the business' as long as I have, you do manage to collect a large number of friends who are also in the same field and, like many professions, teachers do tend to talk teaching ALOT. This is possibly due to the fact that many of us don't really view it as a job, more that it is who we are - as it is difficult to have an on and off button. We are constantly searching for better ways of doing things, new ideas and building knowledge. (So I'm sure my partner wished he was wearing headphones when he spent Labour Weekend with 2 teacher friends and myself!)

One of these friends had just returned from a study trip to Scandinavia to look into the Forest Schools Concept. Wow - her photos and stories were just incredible. What a two year old can do when they are given the licence, it was very exciting and I am keen to try and get her down to share her experiences and knowledge with our staff in some way next year. We are situated in such a fantastic spot for starters!

Back from the weekend, hooking into the news I came across this article about Green School in Bali.

I know some of you have also read it, as you have mentioned it to me - but it's worth a read if you haven't. So many of these ideas were aligned with my friend's Scandinavian experiences and also resonate with many things we are just scratching the surface.

We have recently become an Enviroschool! We are doing so much in this space already, it made wonderful sense to network and learn with others and see where we can move to!  I know the teachers and, no doubt, students are keen to also work more closely with a group of interested parents with progressing this work - so if you are keen, please let John or Scott know ASAP. Follow the link to find out more.

The Fair of Legends is almost upon us. The signs look amazing out there and the Fair Team and helpers have been heads down for quite some time planning and sorting and thinking ....... to make this happen!  Let's join together as a community and get 'stuck in' to making it a great day for the benefit of our WBS children!

27 October 2017

posted 26 Oct 2017, 16:49 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 26 Oct 2017, 16:56 ]

A great deal can be packed into 4 days - I have witnessed this very closely this week! Like I mentioned last week, it's also a short term and also an interesting time for Education Policy ahead.

Much is uncertain but much also remains constant. What we know about learning, what we know about child development, what we know about school culture and what we know about what makes a good school doesn't change.

We are excitedly in the throes of 2018 planning. Nearing the end of the third term of each year my focus certainly moves well into the following year. The teachers have already been delving into the 'hard data', accompanied by plenty of narrative and observation to get their heads around curriculum design for 2018. 

At this school, we place a big value transition from ECE to school, via our highly regarded Rising 5s programme. We also put a lot of energy and thought into transition across the school. Now, similar to a rural school - this really only happens twice in our children's primary school lifetime - we know them well! In saying that, we have a change of dynamic each year, so we need to fit programmes to needs, not the other way around. This is why teaching is such a creative profession!

This year we are keen to have parents along to one of our transition sessions. It's not just children that might be moving into a new space after all. This will give you an opportunity to connect with other parents and teachers in the new spaces too - well before 2018. It'll be on a Friday morning - late November / early December. Date to be confirmed in next week's Newsletter.

I really want to congratulate and acknowledge our children and staff. The soccer coaches working with us for the next 7 weeks had their first session last week. They couldn't speak highly enough of both the smaller and the bigger people at our place! These coaches were absolutely impressed. It's always nice to hear, but especially heartwarming when the feedback is so unsolicited and from people engaged in many schools. Ka mau te wehi!

So, at the moment, I can see that the adults in our community have a lot going on - whether it's teachers, support staff, fundraisers - especially the FAIR TEAM, helpers........ all for the benefit of our children. Pop the build up to Christmas frenzy and holidays, combined with work expectations and deadlines - on top it can all get a bit crazy. Let's remember to look for the best in others, to spot their strengths and let them know. 

I came across this great example of strengths spotting in an Australian High School - I urge you to take a look.

20 October 2017

posted 19 Oct 2017, 18:08 by Carolyn Brett

Nau mai Haere mai - welcome back to the last term of the year. 

I love that Dr Seuss line "How did it get so late so fast?!" I'm also wondering how we will manage all we have in store for the term in these nine and half weeks and come out at the end smiling - but, rest assured, we will - with your help!!

Rallying troops for a slice of Fair Action is a big priority at this time of the year, each and every year. For those of you newer to the school, to gain a full and quick understanding of why a school like ours relies so heavily on community fundraising, I urge you to check out this link on our website

Please also remember to diary the Board of Trustees "Thanks to all parent helpers for 2017" in all the many different forms and varied hues..., hot on the heels of the Fair, you are invited to:

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

It's also a lovely way to make some new connections too. 

The recent 1980s Disco made a record profit in all the WBS Disco years I have known - $1452.46. I think it's just got to have something to do with the videos and music, the outfits and, oh, the memories! Tino pai rawa!

While the diaries are out, please circle Thursday 14 December, 5.30pm to 7.00pm for the WRAP. This is a time the whole community gets together to farewell our Year 6 Graduates and have a bit of a sing along with a dash of Christmas Cheer. The Year 6 Dinner and Year 6 Parent Farewell is scheduled for Tuesday 12 December, 6.00pm to 7.30pm.

This term is also heavy on the reporting on student achievement side (please remember Autahi is a little different in terms of schedule), it's big on the getting out and about and learning outside of the 4 walls, it's expansive on seeking support from you, yes, it's going to be full of opportunity.

“We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it's an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.” 
― Ken Robinson

Let's be energetic and work together to keep building on what we have, let's be the best 'farmers' we can be in this last term of 2017.

29 September 2017

posted 28 Sep 2017, 14:15 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 28 Sep 2017, 14:17 ]

Welcome to the holiday break! 

I'm sure when we come back we will have an energetic spring in our step as we look forward to so much during the final 'summer term' (with healthy doses of optimism and hope!) Thinking summery thoughts, please remember check out our Sun Protection Policy and ensure your child/ren has the best chance of keeping safe in the sun.

Our children, teachers and parents have been out and about making connections all over the place - whether it's for learning, fundraising or simply building relationships. In terms of learning - venturing outside of the classroom walls and school perimeter is expected, both in terms of the New Zealand Curriculum and also our local place based curriculum. When we look at our Year 6 leavers' profile of a "connected, curious and confident thinker", this idea of 'venturing out' is essential. 

These days we also have the support of technology to connect to the world and when you dip in and out of the very lively Blogs, this is evident and opens up so many opportunities, but our children also need human, real, face to face interaction and connection to build so many skills for their future. Sitting alone in front of a screen with headphones on and a bowl of chips won't cut it. 

As was mentioned in Board Shorts last week, we had a motivating Board and Staff Strategic Planning session a couple of weeks ago and will be doing more sharing soon. A number of teachers gave short presentations as part of this. John provided a thought provoking piece about "What should/could Schooling, Teaching and most importantly Learning look like in the rapidly changing world? Rethinking what is taught, how it is taught, and how learning is assessed". There were many links to the purpose of schooling, the work of great thinkers in this field and it really helped us think big picture and well ahead. As John mentioned, these are really exciting times to be an educator - we have never known so much! Whether it's about the nature of learning, plasticity of the brain, emotions... it can be difficult to keep up and make sure we are current, without jumping on the next bandwagon or catching onto a fad, as there are plenty!

As part of the presentation, John outlined the 7 Principles of Learning by the wonderful Sir Ken Robinson. These capture a lot of what we are talking about daily in a few simple bullet points:

We look forward to continuing to give our children a great array of learning opportunities next term and also know we can't do it without our parent community. Let's keep working in partnership to keep moving the school forward with energy and passion and knowing that we will be doing our best for our children starting in Autahi to leave for Intermediate with so many tools in the toolkit, ready to embrace a different wider world to the one we, 'the adults', entered into. 

See you with your sunhats in Term 4.

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!

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